On 3/27/2021 at 8:30 PM, gfweb said:
Any opinions on the French Culinary Institute books? eg https://smile.amazon.com/Fundamental-Techniques-Classic-Italian-Cuisine/dp/1584799900/ref=sr_1_35?dchild=1&keywords=fundamental+techniques&qid=1616894396&sr=8-35
I bought the CIA book years ago and was a little disappointed.
I think they are good enough books respecting their core emphasis, which is the French curriculum that has been in place with Ferrandi for a century. Nothing really bad to say for what they offer but eventually, if you’re like me, there are a million “fundamentals” books - my deepest appreciation, mon Cher Jacques; L’Institut Bocuse, Ducasse, many others that cover similar fundamentals in similar ways. It’s easy, at least for me, to love shelf space taken up with books, even if they cover very similar ground.
FCI takes the Ferrandi approach (you will see it in Jacques Pepin’s earliest books as well), namely, learning a mastery of 400 or so fundamental techniques considered necessary for entry into the profession via your “C.A.P.”
If this is what you are interested in, I’d recommend more you obtain - and work cover to cover - Pepin’s flagship books, as well as the Ferrandi books, which I consider pretty top notch. Their “Grand Cours de la Cuisine” (only available in French, unfortunately), as well as their Patisserie and Chocolate texts. If nothing else, work off your pains au chocolats by lifting these things, as they are massive and imo more bang for your buck.
My appreciation for the Ferrandi materials notwithstanding, a valid complaint is that they just sort of begin, throwing you in to fonds, jus, fumets, etc., with very little explanation or background info to each technique. However, the books really excel in giving bona fide recipes from MOF and other chefs at each of three levels of difficulty. Essentially, études of a central ingredient - the apple; John Dory; Saddle of lamb.
One other I recommend in this vein is La Cuisine de Référence, which is sort of the national standard for young French cooking students, all over France. It is not as sophisticated as the Ferrandi materials - think exceedingly elegant old-school - but the techniques and information learned within are gold standard. The aim of this text, too, is to enable the culinary student testers to pass their CAP’s. Orthodox in the extreme - but I see only virtue in that for the purposes of training and building a foundation. The French has now been translated into English as The French Chef Handbook: La Cuisine de Reference. I am assured from the publisher the English is in every way a faithful translation of the original:
On FCI’s Italian materials, in full agreement with weinoo. Personally, I think Hazan and Buglialli are fantastic primary texts.
oh, LaRousse Gastronomique.
Oh, and Great Chefs of France.
Oh, and a Cook’s Tour of France.
Oh, and Anne-Sophie Pic’s book, Paul Bocuse’s “Market” bible, and the “recettes originales” séries of the frères Troisgros, Haeberlun, Meneau, Blanc, Robuchon, Chapel..,
Oh, and Point, and Bocuse, and Verge, and Guerard, and Escoffier, and Nignon, and Careme, and Taillevent, and Waverly Root (France; Italy), and... and ...
CAS. Cookbook Acquisition Syndrome. An ancient and virulent form of acquisition syndrome, wherein the cook finds comfort in the promise of mastery in the kitchen, measured by how many fundamentals texts she or he can amass in one’s cooking library. Terminal condition, I’m afraid.