French Provincial Cooking Hardcover – Feb 1 2008
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From Library Journal
France and Italy are especially famous for wine and food. David studies and analyzes cooking the way a scholar analyzes literature, and, as a result, her titles are far more than just cookbooks. Along with the recipes, of which there are many, she explains at length the histories of the dishes and offers splendid advice on serving wine with the meals. Both volumes, published in 1960 and 1958, respectively, contain forewords by Julia Child. Italian Food was the author's personal favorite.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
It is difficult to think of any home that can do without Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking.The ObserverSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a coincidence of no small meaning that this book appeared within two years before the publication of Julia Child et al's landmark 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. Child was even worried, when David's book appeared, that it may steal a lot of the thunder from Child and her colleague's effort. The fact is, the two books are very much like the Wittgensteinian 'duck rabbit' optical illusion in that they deal with the same subject but from different points of view.
One distinction is that while Child's book is simply a cookbook of French recipes, David's book is a long essay on French cuisine, offering the sketches of recipes more as exercizes to be completed by the reader than as true recipes. In fact, it is one of the most enduring legacies of Child's book that it redefined the detail to which a recipe writer should go in order to adequately communicate the process of preparing a dish.
A second distinction between the two is that they deal with two different facets of French cuisine. As David recites from work by Curnonsky, there is haute cuisine, la cuisine Bourgeoise, la cuisine Regionale, and la cuisine Improvisee. David discourses on the third while Child, et al present the second.
For many, including such luminaries as Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters, Elizabeth David is the fountainhead of thinking on the French notion of 'la cuisine terroir', sometimes interpreted by the notion 'what grows together goes together'.Read more ›
It was this book that got me started on a lifetime of home cooking. Like all great cookbooks, it can be read and savored without cooking at all. Her ability to evoke time and place is startling -- for example, her recipe for little courgette souffles is wrapped in the story of how she first enjoyed them. Of course, this was in a small country restaurant where the proprietor used his own recipe to make them for her.
She talks vividly about La Mere Poulard and her Mont St. Michel omelettes, for which she offers the original recipe. Roughly translated from the french, it reads: "Monsieur, I get some good eggs, I put them in a bowl and beat vigorously. Then I put them into a pan with good butter and stir constantly. I will be very happy if this recipe gives you pleasure".
I remember, over 30 years ago, the first time I made her recipe for pork chops "to taste like wild boar". They do indeed, and very good they are. Her recipes for classics like Cassoulet, and Bouillabaisse are vivid and provide the cultural context as well as precise directions. Her description of a bouillabaisse on the beach makes you want to catch the next plane there.
She explains the environment of her recipes, their milieu, and their progenitors so that you get right inside the whole theory and practice of french cooking.Read more ›
On further reading, however, what unfolded was something beyond a "cookbook," and ultimately more useful. This is a superb book. French Provincial Cooking should be approached and read as a series of short stories, as well written and evocative as the best literature. The voice is highly personal and opinionated, sometimes sharp and catty, but always true and ultimately sympathetic. It is always entertaining.
And the recipes, it turns out, are less intimidating than at first glance. Most importantly, they work if your aim is to produce the most excellent food imaginable. There is nothing slick here, no L.A. hype or N.Y. blah blah blah, and obviously, they have been tried and perfected; what initially seem to be annoying details (e.g., for omelettes, eggs "should not really be beaten at all, but stirred," whereas for scrambled eggs, they should be "very well beaten") are actually secrets not to be skipped, that elevate a good dish to a superb one. The lesson is that good food should be done simply, but it takes care, attention to detail, and frequently, time.
I find these recipes don't stint on the butter, cream, and wine, making them seem a little frumpy, but every one I've tried has been delicious. Ratatouille, salade Nicoise, terrinee de porc, piperade are all the best I've had. It doesn't get much better than this.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book is unequaled, engrossing, superlative. It remains, despite the four decades since its publication, the finest book on authentic French cooking in the English language. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2002 by Christopher Johnson
An enjoyable, anecdotal cookbook that has rightly become a classic. Having inspired a whole generation of post-war cooks, this text remains relevant to readers and cooks today. Read morePublished on July 18 2001 by little_bounce
I have little that is critical to say about this book: I bought it with certain purposes in mind (to find a few authentic recipes for certain classic French dishes such as Coq au... Read morePublished on March 3 2001
Before Elizabeth David Britain and Australia had no cuisine. Meals consisted of overcooked meat served with three types of boiled vegetables. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2000 by Tom Munro
In 1968, twenty years before I wrote "At Home With The French Classics", two books started me on my lifelong quest for raising ones appreciation and enjoyment of fine... Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2000 by Richard Grausman
Elizabeth David went to France in the still dark days following WWII -- an English friend told me that meat was rationed in Britain until 1953 -- to earn a master's degree in... Read morePublished on July 19 2000
I bought this book while living in England over 20 years ago. Needless to say, my book is falling apart and when I wanted to buy a new copy a few years ago, I was very... Read morePublished on Dec 7 1999
This book is straightforward, written with a definite point of view, and upon occasion absolutely hilarious. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 1999