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Simple French Cooking for English Homes (Classic Voices in Food) Hardcover – Illustrated, 5 Sep 2011
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Includes recipes for everything from frites to cervelles au beurre noir (sheep's brain) Bon appétit
--Sunday Telegraph (Stella), September 11, 2011
About the Author
French-born British chef, restaurateur, and author, Xavier Marcel Boulestin (1878-1943) has been called 'the most subtle, imaginative, and liberating food writer of his day' and was a major influence on the work of Elizabeth David. In 1925, Boulestin opened Boulestin's Restaurant Francaise in London. It was called 'the prettiest restaurant in London' by Cecil Beaton, and writer Edward Laroque Tinker declared in The New York Times that at Boulestin's 'one gets the most perfect and recherche dinner to be found in all London'. Boulestin followed the success of his restaurant with cooking courses and popular books, and wrote many articles about food in Vogue and The Manchester Guardian. Boulestin was also the first television chef, appearing on a BBC programme in television's earliest experimental days, in 1937.
Top customer reviews
Admittedly, some of the dishes are, as would be expected, not in line with modern sensibilities. Fried sheep's brains, for example, is not something I have an urge to try. Three recipes for brains is three too many. But there are plenty of other dishes of interest: a traditional blanquette de veau, for example.
The book isn't one for novice cooks. Many of the recipes are really just a few notes to remind one about the essentials of a dish. It's assumed that the cook will already have a feeling for such things as how long a piece of fish takes to cook.
I particularly like the recipe for roast chicken. Simply "Birds should be roasted in front of a clear fire". Sounds good to me. I'm less sure about the salad of beef and herrings.
This is not a large book. There are no photographs or pictorial illustrations in it as it is wholly text. It is reproduced to reflect the way recipes were written at the time. The recipes are remarkably simple (as the title infers) and easy to follow, and consist of just a few sentences in many cases. It's intriguing to compare books like this to current food/drink books from modern chefs, this book was first published in 1923 and little has changed in some respects, for example, a soup recipe then is not that dissimilar to now.
If you are a novice cook I think you would find a good number of these recipes more easy to follow than those of current TV chefs, which may surprise you. If you are a cook that relies heavily on seeing the finished dishes illustrated with photographs, then this book may not suit your style. Simple French Cooking...will not teach you how to cook but if you like a bit of history and easy to follow recipes then this will be right up your street.
The narrative can seem very old fashioned (as it should) but this adds to the charm somehow.
This would make a wonderful gift for someone who is interested in food history, or a person who loves to study the style of writing and language used in books in years gone by.
The clue is in the title with this book: the dishes and instructions are fairly simple and are offered in the way that they would be spoken as opposed to being written as a list of ingredients followed by step by step instructions. The tone of the writing makes even the 'not so simple' French dishes in this book seem more accessible.
The reader is offered a basic dish, such as Ouefs Durs (hard boiled eggs eggs), followed by numerous variations such as Oeufs Au Beurre Noir (Eggs with Black Butter). I love the fact that even something as simple as a hard boiled egg is given as a proper recipe! Perfect for things you aren't quite sure how to cook but are too embarrassed to ask? The writing style does however make the task of checking ingredients a little tricky as the reader has to read the full recipe and make their own list of what is needed.
Another criticism, though I hate to criticise such a lovely book, is that not all of the recipe titles have an English translation. I am lucky enough to be able to speak conversational French, but I struggled to translate all of the dish-names without reading through the actual recipe. As this is a book released for English homes, perhaps all of the recipe names ought to have been translated.
Despite my slight criticism, I would recommend this book to both 'foodies' and novice cooks. The recipes are simple and can be made with ingredients which are easy to obtain from most Supermarkets. There is a glossary of terms to help if your kitchen knowledge fails you mid-recipe and even weekly and dinner party menu suggestions. With this book as part of my collection, I now feel confident tackling some of my favourite dishes at home.