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Customer Review

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Cooking Inspiration, 5 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Cooking in Provence (Hardcover)
There is one line in this book that sums up the entire spirit of it: the author suggests peeling tomatoes for a recipe but then adds "but as I become more of a cook and less of a chef I do this less and less".
This is a book for cooks not chefs. It is warm hearted and user friendly and inspirational. It draws on the fine skill and love of food of a chef but translates the recipe in to something real and human for a cook. The ingredients lists are beautifully short. The pictures gorgeous. The rythym of the book follows the rythym of the seasons.
Alex Mackay has a real understanding of food and provencal food but is never academic or obsessional in approach. Each recipe is given space and a meaningful introduction.
It is in essence a book of relatively simple recipes but each with a true and unique provencal flavour. I have so far enjoyed the Onion Tian - a kind of onion pie which where the onions are braised and baked for hours until they are meltingly gorgeous. Also mushrooms with chestnuts in red wine as a first course with crusty french bread - which took all of 4 minutes to prepare but look and tasted superb. Daube Nicoise - the regional equivalent of Boef Bourginon - which was a triumph: I used very cheap cuts of stewing steak (to save money) and simmered at 95 degrees in the oven for many hours (with the orange peel and black olives for true provencal flavour) and the result was tender melting and delicious beef, in fact a dinner party for 6 for a about £5 of beef.
The book is not at all about being parsimonious - quite the opposite. But it is a delight to make wonderful food for pence because each cut of meat, or ordinary vegetable is valued and treated with creativity.
A delightful book that knows its subject, is a pleasure to use and actually encourages and inspires one to cook the recipes in it. Also a wonderful coffee table book if you're in to that sort of thing.
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A Customer