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4.6 out of 5 stars
French Provincial Cooking
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2010
Recently voted by The Guardian to be one of the greatest cookery books of our time, the placing was well deserved. It has been a source of information, technique and delight (for Elizabeth David wrote like a master) for my long cooking life. My new, hardcovered edition is a handsome book and will long outlast tghe span of its predecessor which, after some forty years, had crumbled to loose-leaves. To anyone who is tempted or, more likely daunted, by the antics of TV cheffery, let them open this book and read the 1960 introduction and thereafter hold before them always the injunction she quotes from Escoffier, "Faites simple", Make it simple. That injunction is displayed on every page and in every recipe she gives.
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103 of 110 people found the following review helpful
REVIEW APPLIES ONLY TO PENGUIN PAPERBACK EDITION: I bought this edition to replace our Penguin book from 1964 which had gradually worn into a pile of disconnected pages over decades of loving use. All the inspiring writing is still there, of course, all the no-nonsense, no compromise common sense of Elizabeth David that makes this book an essential for anyone who loves to eat well, cook well, or both. But oh, Penguin, you have chosen the cheapest of thick paper, and the print is woefully smaller than the old edition, on pages that are larger! This looks like a scan of a hardback edition. Juliet Renny's delicate line drawings now appear coarsened. Once upon a time, French Provincial Cooking was mostly for browsing -- you simply could not find all the ingredients. Today you can get everything, so you have the pleasure of cooking authentic French dishes with Elizabeth David's unparalleled expert guidance. Nevertheless, you will still want to settle down and read your way through recipes you plan to make some day and learn what makes them so good, and you might just want to do it with a rather nicer edition than this one. So 4 stars out of 4 for the content and 0 stars out of 1 for the production.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2011
I was glad to locate this hardback reprint of this Elizabeth David classic. My 1973 paperback edition was falling apart after nearly 40 years of constant use. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone who enjoys simple but creative home cooking in the French style. It is a far cry from lavishly illustrated books by modern ego-tripping celebrity chefs. Its only illustrations are a few line drawings. The many recipes are generally straightforward and rely on quality basic seasonal ingredients and are geared to a kitchen without modern gimmicky gadgets. It was compiled long before deep freezers or imported exotic foods affected our approach to cookery. It is very much a 'back to basics' book. It has very many useful comments about techniques and the handling of specific ingredients and a mine of information on how to prepare and use them. As a bonus it has a comprehensive index. It is also full of anecdotes and makes a pleasant book for any amateur chef to browse.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 1999
This is the book that more than any other introduced the English to wonderful French food. Many of the foods that are now taken utterly for granted in every supermarket were unknown and alien before this book. It may well have encouraged exploration to France and of its food that began with the hoards of English tourists to France of the 1970s. It is also the perfect book to read outside the kitchen- she conjures up all those times when in France that you feel that you are the first person to have eaten that onion tart or coq au vin...
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Provided you have a few basic skills, this book is excellent.
The recipes are authentic, imaginative and always go down well with guests. The techniques suggested bring out the flavour of the ingredients to a tee and are transferrable with application of one's own imagination.
The recipes are also not fussy or predicated on knowing your butcher on first name terms.
You could cook from this book for ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2010
I really enjoyed this book, it tells you so much more about french provincial cooking than mere recipes, and is, as other reviewers have said, a kind of historical travelogue too. But the thing I really enjoyed most about her writing was the warmth of her character that comes through in the book despite her sometimes controversial views about subjects like the standard of Parisian restaurant food and the relative merits of famous dishes such as Bouillabaisse when compared with similar but (in her opinion) vastly superior Italian dishes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 November 2010
I bought my first copy of this book over 20 years ago. Since then I have given it many times as wedding presents, christmas presents and for birthday gifts.

There is a clarity to David's writing that sings out - many decades after she first wrote it. The ingredients are easier to come by than when the book was first published - which is a blessing.

Her recipes are tempting, her instructions very clear and her prose inviting and descriptive.

This has been a classic for decades. Every food lover should have a copy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2009
If you want to understand what French cooking is all about, then this is the book for you. It's got loads of great information that will help just about anyone, even a novice like me. I'd highly suggest this one, along with Simple French Cookery.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2009
This is one of those cookery books that's a pleasure to read, aside from being a very useful resource for anyone looking to recreate classic French dishes.

Lots of text to read for interested foodies with good descriptions of essential cooking techniques, standard equipment and practical kitchen advice. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow recipe book with plenty of colourful pictures, this might not be the best introduction to French cuisine, but for amateur cooks with some basic knowledge of technique it's a must for your kitchen bookshelf.

I have the smaller paperback version and the text is pretty small, and it's thickness makes it hard to prop open and read whilst cooking, so some people might prefer to buy a larger print version (I think one exists).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2010
I have wanted a copy of this book for 25 years, since I first started to visit France. At last, I have got round to buying a copy and am enjoying reading it almost like a novel. It has become my companion, left where I can pick it up when I sit down. David incorporates the history of French cooking and explains why they do things like they do, then I become inspired to try a new recipe. After almost 50 years of family cooking, this is no mean feat!
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