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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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on 9 August 2005
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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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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on 21 October 2014
I've had this book for a couple of decades, and it is always the first one I go to for a good French recipe; in fact, of my many recipe books, I might even say it is my favourite. The best quiche lorraine, boeuf a la bourguignonne, etc - every French dish you think you know well but realise, after tasting Elizabeth David's version, that you've never had the real thing before. The creamy onion tart, the apple tart with butter-sauteed apples, or the fruit tart made with yeast dough are amazing. You will always find something in here to impress your guests and family and give them a memorably delicious meal, and many dishes start with cheap ingredients. This copy was for my sister, who was fed up with hearing me describe dishes without passing on the recipes.
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on 5 August 2007
I bought this book on eBay and found myself in proud possession of a hardcover `second edition' reprint from 1965. (I have no idea if the current version is updated or even converted to metric, sorry).
Elizabeth is a darling ! and definitely the first English Domestic Goddess, long before Nigella et al came onto the scene. Her delivery of these many, many regional recipes is neither as school madam-ish as early Delia, nor as infuriatingly chummy as Jamie-the-mockeny-Oliver. She engages us in such a way as to make one really believe that nobody cooks like the French, but at the same time that anyone can recreate this culinary wonderland here in grey old England.
This book is so much more than a list of recipes, it is an adventure in France. Given that, when it was written, France was somewhere most of us had only heard of, this book takes us on a fascinating tour into the psyche of a foreign people.
Buy this book today. Even if you have absolutely no interest in cooking. It really is that rip-roaring a read !
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on 20 May 2011
Like another reviewer, I am so disappointed in Penguin's sloppy treatment of this classic. Yes every kitchen should have a copy, and if I had to cook from one book for the rest of my life, it would be this one, but not this edition. The reprint has been done from (rather dirty) scans of an earlier edition, and the effect is like reading from a rather grubby photocopy, and is both wearying, and dispiriting. Sadly the Grub Street hardback edition uses the same material, however good clean second hand hardback copies can still be easily found at reasonable prices, and would be a much better long term investment.
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on 20 January 2006
This is undoubtedly the greatest cookery book ever published in the UK.
Mrs David's passion and knowledge just comes through on every page. The background essays are fascinating, as are the various chapter introductions.
The style is authoritative, even authoritarian in places, but with writing as lucid as this there is hardly any room to quibble about Mrs David's somewhat didactic tone.
This book has been my constant reference point ever since the mid 1980s and it is the basis for virtually everything I cook.
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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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