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Bux

A book to read as well as to cook by?

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Someone will probably ask you why you don't have photographs in the book, but I won't be that one. One of the things that appeals very much to me about the book is that it's a reader's book as much as a cook's book. It should have an appeal to travelers who will, or have dined in the area. The culinary, cultural or historical information preceeding each dish may help inspire a cook to replicate the dish, but it's also invaluable to those who have the chance to sample these dishes in the Pyrenees and who never pick up a pot or pan. Headnotes to a recipe are rarely so interesting apart from the recipe to follow. I can think of a few other cookbooks like this as well as books that offer this sort of look at a culture through its food without recipes, but what inspired you to write this kind of a book and was it written for an audience you know exists or to satisfy your own ideal?


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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The answer is a little of both. I am very pleased that you defined this as a reading book with recipes. Although saying that I wrote the book to satisfy my own ideal might be a bit extreme, I did want to make sure that the introductory narratives I wrote provided background information that was more satisfying than mere vignettes and homespun tidbits of information. I took some inspiration from cookbook authors I admire, such as Diana Kennedy, in my approach to the subject of the Pyrenees.

I tried to achieve a cookbook that I would enjoy reading, by writing a hybrid between a cookbook and background “guidebook” to some of the region’s foods. My discussions attempt to illustrate the correlation between the natural history of the area and the ingredients or recipes, and to emphasize that no distinct boundaries exist between the actual food practices, habits, and natural resources of the area.

While it may seem obvious and interesting to some of us that human migrations and historic geopolitical events, native plants and animals, and the natural history of an area would play key roles in shaping the tastes and direction of a culture’s cooking style, I haven’t found many cookbooks with this sort of information woven into them. The information is usually relegated to volumes dedicated to the history of food.

I tried to write a cookbook for travelers who appreciate and have an interest in learning about the food of the Pyrenees region before, during, or after traveling through the area. Since far fewer travelers visit the Pyrenees region than Paris or Barcelona, I surmised that the type of traveler, actual or armchair, who is drawn to the Pyrenees, is primarily one with an attraction to nature, countryside exploration, and outdoor activities -- and would have an interest in learning about the natural history of the area. The background on native game and natural history, was written with this in mind.

For a preemptive response to the question that has not yet been asked, about the lack of photographs in the book – it was a publisher’s decision based on economics.

- Marina


Marina C.

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