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Authentic French cusine
on 27 November 2008
Having lived in France, I have long tried to find an authentic recipe book that captured that French 'difference' in its cooking. I could never understand the secret of why meals made in France tasted so different to English recipes.
And god knows I have tried many recipes books from people who claim to be writing 'authentic' recipes! - from Rick Stein (who is not bad, admittedly) to the awful 'French Leave' from John Burton Rice. My home is littered with discarded recipe books, that have been tossed aside in frustration.
Ripailles is the first one I have tried that shocked me when I served up the meal. It was like a different cook had been let loose in the kitchen! I haven't tried any of the more exotic meat recipes, but some of the more standard recipes - eg the 'braised beef with carrots' tasted fabulous and made me feel I had landed in Granny Leroux's farm kitchen in Provence, surrounded by all her family.
There is a good range of recipes - they go from simple soups/lunches like:
'potage cultivateur' (farmer's vegetable soup)
'garbure' (gascon cabbage and vegetable soup)
'oeuf cocotte au roquefort' (baked egg with roquefort cheese)
to standard meals:
'épauloe farcie' (stuffed lamb shoulder)
'rôti de cochon tout simplement' (roast pork, pure and simple)
'canard à l'orange' (duck à l'orange)
'moules marinières' (steamed mussels in white wine)
to more exotic sounding stuff:
'civet de sanglier acidulé' (Jugged boar in a sharp sauce)
'rouille du pêcheur' (stewed octopus with rouille sauce)
And yes, there's recipes for frogs' legs and snails... There's also a sugar section with recipes for eg brioche, mille-feuilles, profiteroles, flourless chocolate cake, crème brulée - and Galette des rois (Epiphany cake), to name but a few.
There really is a good choice of traditional cooking, and the book is beautifully illustrated. There is a lot of humour too in the book, it's quite quirky (eg one recipe instruction is 'buy a stone cottage in France and build a bbq'. I wasn't too keen on that part, but I guess that's just a personal thing. I also wasn't too keen on the inclusion of the occasional musical score/French tune, which is part of the equally quirky regional/background text. I think I would have preferred more recipes.
The only other gripe I had is that sometimes the recipes are so simple, the novice cook (like me) who wants to be lead by the hand could be a bit disconcerted by the vagueness/freedom, but it's still a wonderful book. At the price on Amazon it's a bargain, so I'll definitely be giving a few away for Xmas.