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French Cookbooks


FoodMan
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Hallie,

Putting on my librarian hat, I compiled a list from the responses to your request:

La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange

Escoffier cook book (or Guide culinaire)

Larousse gastronomique

Mastering the art of French cooking (2 vols.)

Paul Bocuse's French cooking

I was reading through the intro of my book, Le Cordon Bleu at home, and it mentioned a book that was hailed as "the most comprehensive, authoritative, and up-to-date book on French cooking and gastronomy ever written." That book is:

L'art culinaire moderne (or The great book of French cookery) by Henri-Paul Pellaprat

If your husband can get any of these cookbooks for you for Christmas, you're doing well.

Edited to add: Hallie, did you post this question in the France forum as well? I didn't check yet.

Edited by rjwong (log)

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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There is a short review of La Bonne Cuisine de Madame St. Ange on page 58 of the November edition of Gourmet Magazine.

Given that it was first published in 1927 it is likely to provide a thorough treatment of classic French cuisine which in and of itself makes for a beautiful collection. However if you are also hoping to cover Nouvelle and modern French cooking some of the other suggestions may be a better choice.

Edited by gruyere (log)
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I love the book for its detailed descriptions on how to prepare "French" dishes.

One fault is the book hardly deals with regional cooking. For example, you won't find any recipes for duck, goose or pork confit.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Given that it was first published in 1927 it is likely to provide a thorough treatment of classic French cuisine which in and of itself makes for a beautiful collection. However if you are also hoping to cover Nouvelle and modern French cooking some of the other suggestions may be a better choice.

Good point. A well-worn copy of La Cuisine de Madame Saint Ange was given to me me about 10 yrs ago by the mother of a French friend. It's been invaluable as a reference resource--for example, another eG thread inquired about dealing with fresh escargot, and this cookbook described the entire (disgusting) process. But I can't say that I turn to it for recipes. I'd also say the same thing about Larousse.

I vote for Julia, however dated her books might be in some respects, you will definitely cook from them.


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  • 9 months later...

I didn't realize Ali-Bab had been translated; I have a 1920s edition (moldy, but a steal!). Lots of fun and surely a hefty (and in my case, smelly) tome.

A few months ago I picked up Ali-Bab's "Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy" when in New Orleans on a recent trip. Its the 1974 translation. In reading Julia Child's book she makes reference to the French edition of Ali-Bab's book. I have compared some recipes and see a very strong relation. More detail and instructions in Julia's tome.

Anyone cooking from Ali-Bab's book?

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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I recently bought the splendid "French" by Sydney chef/restaurateur Damien Pignolet and I am still wandering through it, choosing dishes I want to make. There's a thread about it here on eGullet.

The only real reservation I have about the book is the use of the font Tribute which is a little heavy on ligatures.

Website: http://cookingdownunder.com

Blog: http://cookingdownunder.com/blog

Twitter: @patinoz

The floggings will continue until morale improves

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How could I not have mentioned Richard Olney??  'Simple French Food' and 'The French Menu Cookbook' are treasures.  So is 'Lulu's Provencal Table.'

Ali-Bab's 'Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy' is another wonderful resource. 

Yes, FM, tell us more about what you're after.  Recipes?  Technique?  Classics?  New ideas?

I'll second that. Although he seems to have gotten lost to today's generation, perhaps since he wasn't a grinning presence on television (nor did he have a hot bustline...) his books are great, and some of the best food writing ever.

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  • 1 month later...

With regard to books in French, I'm a fan of Georges Blanc's Cuisine en Famille. It's a very clearly set out set of recipes for food from the Bresse region and I've found it straightforward to follow.

PS

Edinburgh

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm surprised that only one person mentioned Madeleine Kamman, and then not her great book "When French Women Cook".

I'm certainly in favor of all the Julia Child books and most of the others mentioned, but this book takes a different approach, in that it tells you how to make the (sort-of) simple, hearty, comforting fare that French grandmas have always made. If your knife skills and pastry techniques are not school taught, remember that theirs weren't either. But you'll be eating some pretty, pretty delicious and robust dishes to tide you over while you master the more scholarly works.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Note that Benson's English translation of Ali-Bab, cited repeatedly in this thread, got sharp criticism from the same source John Whiting cited above on the floured-sauce fad (the Hesses' broad, often critical 1977 Taste of America, ISBN 0670693766,* which besides its original content is a concentrated sourcebook on US and historical cookbooks). The Hesses mentioned unacknowledged omission of sections and of half of the recipes, and questioned some specifics of recipes retained and excluded. Adding (by coincidence) that the measurement conversions also implicitly increased the flour content of sauces.

Same source also favorably reviewed Olney's Simple French Food and contemporary books (not all on French cooking) by Hazan, Wolfert, Diana Kennedy, Madeleine Kamman, etc.

Of the (now) three main English-language editions of Larousse Gastronomique, all are readily available (US used book shops for decades have had inexpensive copies of the first, the 1961 Crown edition, which is close to the 1938 French original in many parts, and is enjoyed for reasons beyond just recipes).

-- Max

The Taste of America was reprinted in 1999 with supplements. It's in acid-free paperback as ISBN 0252068750. At the risk of repetition, you can quickly find any book with an ISBN by searching on that number at your favorite online used-book source, or at dealers like amazon.com that both sell new books and act as clearinghouses for used ones. You can even simply Google the exact phrase such as "ISBN 0252068750" and find copies of the book (which is how I verify ISBNs here before posting them). That's one thing online sources are very good for.

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What about Boulud's books? I'm tempted to try one of them.

I have Braise and have to say it is really good. I like the fact that it is more world cuisine than just French. Btw Paul Bocuse has a new cookbook out in March. Check the link to Barnes and Noble I have included. I should also add that I love my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, a very handy guide. If you want a cookbook with a smart ass attitude ( and just consider who the author is.) Les Halles Cookbook is really good too. You just can't own this cookbook though if you are easily offended by the colorful language. It is described as more of a field mannual and it does not disappoint. Le Bernardin Cookbook is really good too if you want a cookbook that just specializes in seafood.

Barnes and Noble

Edited by kristin_71 (log)
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At the more day-to-day end of the scale it’s worth taking a look at Le Petit Larousse de la Cuisine. It has all the standard recipes, is very approachable and absolutely reliable. I believe it is only available in French.

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Old thread, to which I have little to add; beginning 30+ years ago, as a kid, I relied on M. Pepin's La Technique, and it has stood me in good stead over the years; Madeleine Kamman's Making of a Cook and LaRousse have been among the weightier tomes I've used as well. Many, many others as well, most of them having already been brought up.

With the technique books, I've always sought out information on French regional cooking. Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France, Mme. Kamman's Savoie Cooking, M. Bocuse's Regional Cooking (an old friend, now - uh, the book, not the Chef!), and, well and often, Waverly Root's The Food of France. Not a technique or recipe book in any sense of the word, rather (in my mind, at least), a wonderfully crafted tale of French culinary and cultural history - why French food is what it is, from a regional point of view. Perhaps my favorite read (well, when I am not enjoying Bourdain, or wistfully musing on a time I will never be part of, reading Zola).

Edited by paul o' vendange (log)

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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I like and use some of those mentioned already: "Simple French Cooking" by Olney, "Bistro Cooking" by Wells, "When French Women Cook" by Kamman, "Simply French" by Wells and Robucho and "Bistro" by Hirigoyen. Also,Wolfert's, "The Cooking of Southwest France".

Two other books I turn to often:

"Backyard Bistros, Farmhouse Fare: A French Country Cookbook" by Jane Sigal and

"French Farmhouse Cookbook" by Susan Loomis.

The former focuses mainly on dishes from the regions of Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Provence and also includes interesting sidebars with background on the origin of the recipe which is often a chef, local or an artisanal food producer. The book is also interspersed with essays on artisanal and traditional food production for different items. The recipes in the latter book are uniformly more homey.

edited for some typos

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Ludja - the book by Jane Sigal sounds great.  Just grabbed it off of Amazon, many thanks. (Just a note, for anyone wanting to get the book - the author's name is apparently Jane Sigal).

Hope you'll enjoy it and thank you very much pointing out the typo on the author's name! My fingers must have still been asleep. (I went back and fixed it.)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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What about Boulud's books? I'm tempted to try one of them.

I have Braise and have to say it is really good. I like the fact that it is more world cuisine than just French. Btw Paul Bocuse has a new cookbook out in March. Check the link to Barnes and Noble I have included. I should also add that I love my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, a very handy guide. If you want a cookbook with a smart ass attitude ( and just consider who the author is.) Les Halles Cookbook is really good too. You just can't own this cookbook though if you are easily offended by the colorful language. It is described as more of a field mannual and it does not disappoint. Le Bernardin Cookbook is really good too if you want a cookbook that just specializes in seafood.

Barnes and Noble

I will check out those books, thanks! The Bocuse book looks like what I'm looking for. Simple French cooking. Something I might use more than once in a while for super-special occasions.

Edited by Elrushbo (log)
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What about Boulud's books? I'm tempted to try one of them.

I have Braise and have to say it is really good. I like the fact that it is more world cuisine than just French. Btw Paul Bocuse has a new cookbook out in March. Check the link to Barnes and Noble I have included. I should also add that I love my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, a very handy guide. If you want a cookbook with a smart ass attitude ( and just consider who the author is.) Les Halles Cookbook is really good too. You just can't own this cookbook though if you are easily offended by the colorful language. It is described as more of a field mannual and it does not disappoint. Le Bernardin Cookbook is really good too if you want a cookbook that just specializes in seafood.

Barnes and Noble

I will check out those books, thanks!

Just a note - but I love the Les Halles book. But then, I love all things Bourdain. He has a comment there on a customer ordering ribeye (a comment which I will leave out on this august forum) which is priceless. Actually, too close to home...we actually had that very thing happen once. Customer ate 2/3 of the plate, then wanted money back as the ribeye "had fat in it" - not even that it was "too fatty," but, verbatim, "it had fat in it." The one time I refused to comp. Ah, Sir Bourdain, how well you know this peculiar corner of the world...

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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I am amazed that in this long standing thread contributed to by so many illustrious eGulleteers that nobody has mentioned one of the most interesting & authentic French cook books.

That is "Goose Fat & Garlic" by Jeanne Strang. Lots & lots of recipes beautifully explained accompanied by wonderful descriptions of the rural life in SW France. I use it frequently.

IMHO every bit as good as Paula Wolfert if not quite as slickly produced.

Try it you'll like it.

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Just a note - but I love the Les Halles book. But then, I love all things Bourdain.

Yea I like this cookbook too, but again the language, while absolutely hilarious, especially if you are familar with Bourdain, is not for everyone. Some do get easily offended and should know that the language is salty. It is a fantastic cookbook though and I really enjoy using it. The recipes for the most part are not too difficult for a cook with somewhat advanced skills ( if that is even what I can call my skills in the kitchen.) and the pictures are nice too. The smart comments in the margins are really very funny. :biggrin:

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