French Provincial Cooking

Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking is an amazing resource. It's a well-rounded cookbook, a classic gem, and the key to delicious, amazing food, not just in the French style.

The recipes are no boring lists of ingredients and the techniques to combine them - no, rather, each recipe is a paragraph, a story, complete with notes like, "The carrots are not essential to the soup, but they add a little extra flavour and colour." The amounts are usually in weights, but there's a great weights and measures chapter. Also, when exact amounts aren't important, she doesn't bother quantifying them needlessly. A small lump of butter, a dessert spoon of flour, a few sprigs of parsley.

David doesn't talk down to the reader and doesn't fill her recipes with jargon. She makes suggestions to tailor dishes to the real world. For instance, she might say that an ingredient is difficult to obtain in winter, so this is how to change the recipe for the cold months. Some details of the recipes seem exceedingly finicky: in describing how to make Carottes Vichy, she mentions that the water in Vichy isn't chalky and that makes the vegetables better, so the reader can simulate the effect by adding a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water. But then you try it, and it works, and you wonder why you never thought of that before.

I would particularly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn the secrets of Coq Au Vin (p.599) or the simplest, most delicious chocolate cake (Gateau au Chocolat, p. 454), but this book is tasty reading for everyone, whether you love to cook or you just surf past the Food Network occasionally.

French Provincial Cooking Cover Image
By Elizabeth David, Julia Child (Foreword by), Juliet Renny (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780141181530
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 1st, 1999