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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and inspiring. Part memoir, part history, part peasant-French-cookbook, very aesthetic.
In purely practical terms this a fairly short memoir interspersed with recipes, beautiful photography of the food and a few old, tiny, French-captioned, family snaps of "Mes grandes-parents maternals" and "Service militaire a Toulon." Divided into the four seasons, with each season begins with a few, beautifully written and engrossing, pages detailing something of...
Published 18 months ago by G. Wake

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Retro cuisine...
Memories of Gascony is a reprint of Pierre Koffmann's celebrated 'demi-memoir-demi-cookbook' about his early life in South-West France, a journey through the cuisine and the kitchens of his childhood. Usually, I'm not the biggest fan of chef biography, I'd rather just have the recipes, but this is a better written and more evocative nostalgia trip than most. It helps that...
Published 17 months ago by techpuppy


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and inspiring. Part memoir, part history, part peasant-French-cookbook, very aesthetic., 27 Jan 2013
By 
G. Wake "gregwake" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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In purely practical terms this a fairly short memoir interspersed with recipes, beautiful photography of the food and a few old, tiny, French-captioned, family snaps of "Mes grandes-parents maternals" and "Service militaire a Toulon." Divided into the four seasons, with each season begins with a few, beautifully written and engrossing, pages detailing something of Koffmann's childhood memories, things his grandparents did and reminisces about the region, village or even the double chiming church clock. This is world made beautiful by varied imperfections, made special by ordinariness and magical by nature. I have never been what you might call a Francophile but reading this has made me want to visit Gascony and see a little of what Koffmann saw, it sounds too good to miss

Recipe names are given first (and largest) in French then in English underneath, the bilingual titles help maintain the feel of the book without making it overly confusing to read. There are a lot of recipes in here from pickles, pates and omelettes to stews, aperitifs and tarts, but their being arranged by season can make it hard to find just what you're looking for, though the excellent (and only half in French so you can find things regardless of which language you know the name in) index allows the book to be useable. While varied ingredients and methods employed appear entirely traditional with a lot of game, wine, onions, pork and other things you might expect a Gascony farm house to have access too so don't be expecting pasta, chili or avocado and don't be surprised to discover new uses for cabbage and offal. Be aware that some recipes require ingredients or kit, such as the blood of four freshly killed chickens, that you might struggle to obtain on the high street. Equally cooking eggs in the hot embers of the fire isn't going to work for the majority of folk who just have gas or electric. It's by no means the majority though so don't let that put you off and you could always try such techniques when camping or if renting a holiday cottage.

As a piece of book design `Memories of Gascony' is wonderful. There are many cook books which try to take the scrapbook or handwritten notebook style and some simply don't work but this is done very well. The text is not rendered in some hideous faux-handwriting font but in a readable serif, with slightly less easy to read italics for the ingredients. The photographs of recipes are good, well shot and colourful but are neither captioned nor necessarily next to the recipe they show so it can take a little reading to decide exactly which nearby recipe is being depicted. I spent some time looking, in mild horror, at what I thought was cooked chicken blood before realising it was the rice pudding in apricot coulis from over the page The paper is of good quality, matt finish, white which should probably be kept away from the kitchen work surface lest it be spoiled by the mess of cooking.

I love the bright, colourful cover, the orange edge of the back cover visible while reading gives the book a lovely, warm, feel even when reading `winter.' There is no dust jacket to lose or tear, the hardback cover has the design printed directly onto its smooth surface with the only hint of roughness coming from the impressed text on the spine. The fore edge (the edge of a book opposite the spine edge) has a delightful rough cut feel and this, combined with the cut-and-stick family scrapbook design give the book a personal, intimate and hand crafted feel. Which makes it a tad disappointing, not to mention slightly hypocritical of a book promoting traditional, local methods and sourcing, to see that the book was printed and bound in China.

Memories of Gascony is a nice story with some lovely recipes and beautiful presentation. While some of the recipes are not going to be practical the majority are and a full range of abilities are covered from the quick and simple to the really rather complicated and time consuming. I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in cooking as the little stories and rural, often intimate, details help you understand the why behind many of them and bring them a little closer to life. If, like me, you cook your best when your imagination is engaged then this book is for you!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Walk Down Memory Lane, 2 Feb 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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This is much more than your average cook book, as Pierre Koffman takes you with him on a journey through his early life to meet his family in Gascony. The family pictures are charming even down to a picture of Pierre, himself, as a baby.

The author takes you through the seasons and the changing Gascony countryside. His memories come out as little gems and the narrative is so well written that you can almost feel that you are there. This is a rare talent in a chef and a cookery writer.

The recipes follow the seasons and the ingredients as they become available at different times of the year. Hence the book is divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. There is an English translation for all the recipes with French names which is very helpful - although I am not sure I would confess to my guests that I was serving them Rats Tail Fritters!

The ingredients are well set out, the methodology is quite clear and there is an indication of how many people the dish would be expected to serve. There are some pictures of finished dishes, but by no means all of them and overall the book is not as lavishly illustrated as many of the genre.

This is a lovely book and really so much more interesting than your average cook book. It is more like a walk down memory lane on a path that led to the author becoming a master chef. This would make a lovely present for anyone who knows and loves the Gascony region.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a cook book, 31 Jan 2013
By 
B. Bello (Stourton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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Pierre Koffman is described by Michel Roux as `the Chef's Chef' and also
as a `genius, an authentic and pure Gascon.'

The book is attractively presented with a map of the region on the inside cover
The type of paper is quite thick and the torn edges which give it a unique
earthy feel.

The narrative is focused on the seasons in this part of France and
laced with fabulous black and white photographs from the chef's
childhood, so it is both a story and a recipe book.

The interplay between the seasonal narrative and corresponding collection
of recipes is inspiring in its own right. You do sense without a doubt that
this is cooking on another plane.

Be warned though we are talking very gutsy French cooking, and the
recipes include a generous amount of fats be it duck fat, goose fat,
butter or cream but the food is remarkable, no question about its
appeal and the traditional French desserts miraculous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appealing, 1 Jan 2013
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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Renowned chef Pierre Koffmann presents a very personal cookbook. Centered around his childhood in France where he grew up on a farm with parents and grandparents, Koffmann recalls this period and intersperses it with noteworthy food he enjoyed from this time. The result is a collection of good honest recipes based on the available produce from the farm; duck and chicken seem to predominate along with robust vegetables, with duck or goose fat frequently included in the list of ingredients.

This is a well produced book, printed on heavy stock and with the rough page edges lending a hand-made paper feel to it. Many, but far from all, of the recipes are illustrated in full-page full-colour photographs, not always on the same page as the recipes itself.

A very appealing cookbook, this is very much food for home cooking and enjoyment and not fancy restaurant recipes adapted for the domestic kitchen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderful, 20 April 2013
By 
Nick Flynn "NickF" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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It is not that often that a cookbook makes me drool, but Pierre Koffmann's sumptuous Memories of Gascony has just that effect on me. The whole experience is a feast, the quality of the book itself, the paper, the print and especially the photographs that seem to leap off the page, just inviting you to try.

Whilst I could never hope to fully emulate the great chef, the recipes I have tried to date have actually been pretty easy, and most of the ingredients have either been store cupboard items, fresh from the garden or available in my local supermarket.

The recipes range from rustic simplicity to haute cuisine ... the common factor being everything I have tried has been bloomin delicious.

It is not that often that I have a cookbook out of the book case and have read pretty much cover to cover, but Pierre Koffman's Memories of Gascony is one of the few. As I write this I can almost smell olive oil, garlic and onions gently sautéing in my pan.

I think it will have to be a Koffmann inspired dinner tonight.

So good, it takes me back to my long Summers in France many many years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much desired re-print, 20 Mar 2013
By 
Pompom (Devon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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This is a lovely book, very deservedly in The Times Top 40 Cookbooks of the year. Evokes a lovely sense of Gascony. Not simply recipes, but full of memories. I have made a few things so far which have all been glorious. The only problem has been that I feel every recipe should be eaten on a sunny day... Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Offal, 19 Feb 2013
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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I thought that this was offally good.

There are quite a few recipes in here and they were a bit different from the usual.
Quite a lot of offal is used (hence the awful puns for which I offer profuse apologies)

As a memoir it works very well, it is genuinely interesting and really makes you want to try some of the recipes.

Everything is well presented and the photos are nice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Retro cuisine..., 4 Feb 2013
By 
techpuppy "aka stylepuppy" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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Memories of Gascony is a reprint of Pierre Koffmann's celebrated 'demi-memoir-demi-cookbook' about his early life in South-West France, a journey through the cuisine and the kitchens of his childhood. Usually, I'm not the biggest fan of chef biography, I'd rather just have the recipes, but this is a better written and more evocative nostalgia trip than most. It helps that the cuisine of Gascony is so renowned, even if a bit out of fashion these days - maybe our collective concerns about cholesterol and calories have seen to that.

One of my Summer holiday jobs as a teenager was working as a kitchen assistant in a country house restaurant and the recipes in this book brought it all back. The restaurant wasn't in France but the kind of French Provincial cookery in this book was exactly the kind of cuisine fashionable in restaurants at that time. I wasn't a great success, I ruined the Hollandaise. It also brought back the time when we were all a lot less concerned about the amount of dairy produce we ingest. There's hardly a recipe here that isn't full of eggs and butter and you can tell they're mostly country-style recipes - not that it's a bad thing, it would just be quite helpful to own a small farm to supply all the lovely fresh produce you need to create some of these dishes. It's not the ideal cuisine for squeamish vegetarians either, featuring all manner of meat and poultry in all manner of guises, and it should be remembered that Gascony is the home of Fois Gras (featured in only a couple of recipes) which is just animal cruelty in the name of gastronomy.

The recipes for deserts and puddings were among the highlights for me, somehow you can justify the calories more easily when it's something that's already indulgent, and there are tempting recipes for French classics like Tarte aux Pommes and Koffman's signature 'Souffle aux Pistaches'. As a cookbook it's never going to be your waistline's best friend, but for nostalgic indulgence you couldn't do much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country Cooking, 24 Jan 2013
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
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Lucky me - for the last 40 years I have stretched the goodwill of a friend and every couple of years my family have holidayed at his chateau near Auch. During my visits we have tasted the best of Gascony cuisine - and I have partaken of Armagnacs back to year 1933! Now I have the most impressively presented of cookbooks: `Memories of Gascony'. It is large size at 7 ins x 10 ins and over 1 inch thick, it has striking board covers, delightful `map' endpapers, a colourful marker ribbon, and it is printed on high quality paper with serrated edges (with hand made feel). The physical publication is a work of art. Inside it is a masterpiece.

Chef and author Pierre Koffmann explains how the book is about his childhood, and it grew out of gratitude and affection for his maternal grandparents who farmed in a small village in central Gascony. His recipes are inspired by the everyday country meals prepared by his grandmother and mother, and they are presented with personal commentary that goes way beyond a series of culinary directives. He interweaves recipes and idiosyncratic stories which additionally have mouthwatering illustrations (though not all recipes are pictured) plus the support of family photographs (with typical French writing style captions). Narrative is divided into 4 parts based on the seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and by title definition the recipes are regional. Rather than `haute cuisine' or `grande cuisine' they are comparatively simple with reliance on a limited range of ingredients and therefore suited to home cooking (in rural France anyay!). My wife confirms the straightforward instructions ensure what is prepared matches sumptuous illustrations - and I can confirm the tastes are delicious and delectable. As I await my next visit to Auch planned this summer [2013] I can prepare my palate for gastronomic Gascony - and my bookcase is enhanced by Pierre Koffman's superb publication which looks as luscious as his country cooking.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book, 17 Oct 2012
This review is from: Memories of Gascony (Hardcover)
As Gordon Ramsay reviews Koffman on the front cover, An extraordinarily talented man, not only in the kitchen it seems but also in the presentation of this book. A beautifully bound book with the most tactile paper I have ever felt in a book.
After more than 40 years in cuisine this book is not just a recipe book but almost a testament to his life.
Written almost in diary form containing personal photographs from Koffman's life.
This can almost be read as a book, rather than a recipe book. It's a private insight into his life and those around him sprinkled generously with some of the most delicious sounding recipes.
A lovely gift for someone who likes to cook and read.
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Memories of Gascony
Memories of Gascony by Pierre Koffmann (Hardcover - 1 Sep 2012)
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