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on 8 March 2012
A beautiful book, with wonderful and inventive recipes. Makes me feel I can cook interesting vegetable dishes, even if I have to use supermarket products. I like the way the recipes are set out, they are easy to follow, and the advice and suggestions for alternative ingredients are invaluable. However, the print is in different colours, and rather faint, which makes following a recipe in artificial light very difficult, the yellow, pale green and grey in particular just disappear on the page. Definitely five stars for the recipes, but only three for the final result.
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To the enthusiastic cook this might be the nearest they ever get to working with Alain Ducasse, one of the greatest living chefs of our time.

Through this imposing yet accessible hardback book, one is given direct access to Ducasse and gets the chance to learn a bit about his culinary philosophy and modus operandi as he turns his expert eye to natural, simple, healthy and good-for-you ingredients that can be transformed into some rather spectacular dishes. Proving there is more to Ducasse's repertoire than rich, intricate French dining, the reader can see Ducasse's take on a much more simpler French-dining experience that will still have you wanting more.

In many ways this book is a modern-day curate's egg. It certainly has its quirks such as the cartoon-style imagery that can be found throughout. They just seem to jar the otherwise pleasant flowk, its full-colour photographs and the great text. They didn't work for the reviewer in any case and proved to be a bit of a distraction.

Once you start digging in the book you begin to get on the Ducasse wavelength. Nothing has been taken for granted. Need a chicken stock? Lemons? Ketchup? Yes, there is a Ducasse recipe for that which forms part of its "larder essentials" section. Ducasse is serious about working with only the very best materials and nothing is left to chance. You might think this is fussy and over-the-top but one must presume that Ducasse really does know what he is doing and why. Even a busy chef, no matter how prolific and experienced, would not seek to do unnecessary work if they can avoid doing so as it would be a major draw on their resources. Put your trust in the master.

The book is split into a few distinct chapters - for the larder, condiments, grains and cereals, soups, vegetables, sea, land and desserts. Once you get past your irritation (?) at the quirky images or, as the publicity material calls them "delightful line drawings" you find that the book is easy to navigate and the focus is made on the recipes. The majority of recipes seem to have their own full-colour illustration and every recipe is accompanied by various hints and tips for customisation, techniques or just making things a little better.

There was one disconcerting thing that this reviewer reacted to and so far the jury is out whether to award a little black mark or not. Conventionally a recipe has its ingredients listed in a separate break-out box, whereas in this book they are merged in with the recipe. So to know what you need for a certain dish you have to read through every line of the recipe and extract the information from there. In some ways it is good that you read the "assembly instructions" several times (where justified) yet it makes browsing to be less friendly. A separate broken out ingredients list makes a "do we have this?" or "I must buy X" process a lot quicker when skimming.

And the usual grumbles about the lack of a typical preparation/cooking time estimate should be recorded here. For a book that focusses on the more-healthier foodstuffs one doesn't miss the typical nutritional information so much. But in a book that can feature more complex, involved recipes (or the presumption of same) SHOULD give you a timing estimate, if nothing else than to reassure you that you are not doing things wrong along the way!

At the end of the book is the customary index and this one is fairly comprehensive, if not slightly overladen by the graphical styling. All in all, this is an excellent book. If one views it as an inspirational/aspirational book then some of the niggles lose a little of their weight. However as a practical book these niggles do get in the way. The quality of the content (recipes, advice, etc) is not at question - it is more a question of the packaging. This could be compared to a dish being overly complicated by little flourishes that add nothing to the taste and can even make things appear too fussy. There is no need to hide the content or camouflage it, so it is a little disappointing that some graphic designer has been allowed to run rampant. Ducasse would not let a junior chef run amok with the tomato ketchup to make things look pretty when the food didn't need it, so why do it to the book?

It is still a lovely book. Just a little love-hate relationship that can mirror many real-life relationships with a partner you adore but who does a few things that can wind up you too!
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on 12 December 2011
'"It is time to get back to basics and rediscover the pleasure of simple food"' - Alain Ducasse
There are so many fresh, delicious ingredients found in nature - but how many of us use them to their full advantage? Chef Alain Ducasse, presents an abundance of delicious ideas.
`Nature', however, is not written for the professional chef. It is, and it certainly presented as a genuine attempt to provide simple, healthy recipes, albeit with a bit of French flair, which will be well within the grasp of the average home cook.
Because when people think of French food, they often imagine laborious recipes that are loaded with butter and cream
But with a little help from the phenomenon that is Alain Ducasse he helps you rediscovers the pleasure of simple food, and presents delicious French food without the fat or the fuss. includes over 190 easy-to-make creations.
Ducasse shows the subtle wonders of a wide range of delectable flavours, giving pride of place to fruit, vegetables and cereals, which are sure to leave you feeling great. Featuring delightful line drawings, mouth-watering food photography, and with Alain's useful snippets of advice peppered throughout the book,Nature is more than a recipe book: it shows another way to enjoy food that is more natural & healthy. (as seems to be the new thing of the "Moment")
The only negative comment that I would say is that the recipes themselves are attractively laid out, but rather than using a separate ingredient list, the ingredients are highlighted in coloured print in the text, now I can see some benefit in this approach - for one you have read through the recipe at least once to make sure that you have noted all the ingredients - but it seems a deviation from the norm which in the end serves no real purpose. I would also add that in some cases there needs to be more contrast between the text and the background for the highlighted words to really stand out.
But that is a small detail that hopefully only slightly irritates me.
But on the whole a fantastic read...
Enjoy...Lovers of all things simple & Delicious
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on 10 May 2012
Back to the roots of the Mediterranean diet, in this book Alain Ducasse showcases accessible recipes for the average experience cook. I noticed that most of the recipes are for the May 'till September season as only during that time of the year the fresh ingredients mentioned are available. I would like to see some ideas for the late autumn and winter season.
The nutritionist comments are useful to better balance the menus.
Highly Recommended
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on 14 February 2014
A very beautiful book with wonderful recipes.
It's nice how the recipes are set out and they are easy to follow. Unfortunately the print in different colours is sometimes difficult (especially light green on white).
It's nice but quite unsual there is not separate list of ingredients.
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on 15 October 2011
Alain Ducasse is a legend, having been awarded numerous michelin stars for his restaurants around the globe. But this book isn't scary, and is very straight forward, with stunning pics of the food and simple instructions. I've admired his other books from a distance (too technical), but can't recommend this one enough. It's French, but not too much so - it's more about good honest and healthy food. And I love the drawings of food on the cover!
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