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on 14 March 2005
This is an absolutely superb book, but I wouldn't have expected anything less from Jane Grigson. The background to the recipes makes it a joy to read, and the recipes are easy to follow and invariably delicious. Some of the recipes use ingredients which require an understanding butcher, but most are readily available - and when you've tried some of them (such as the magnificent saucisse de campagne and boudin noir), you'll never want to see the insipid supermarket versions again. The perfect introduction to French charcuterie!
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on 19 December 2001
This is a book for anyone who has stood drooling at the spécialités du terroir in a French charcutier's window. How to do absolutely anything with every bit of a pig. All the tricks of the trade are here. A book of great erudition written in a clear and entertaining style by one of the really great cookery writers. Every true foodie needs a copy.
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I'm a big fan of The Pig (with the notable exception of three pesky little ones which
gave me the most dreadful time once upon a very long time ago!) Jane Grigson's
'Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery' was first published in 1967 but remains one
of the finest tributes to the execution and preparation of every part of this fine beast.
(Fergus Henderson's 2012 'The Complete Nose To Tail : A Kind Of British Cooking', is
another wonderful contribution to the genre should you wish to cultivate an obsession).

Mrs Grigson's narrative is lucid, informative and entertaining in equal measure.
Here was a cook who wasn't at all timid to roll up her sleeves and dive into her
subject well above the elbows! The recipes are economical and easy to follow,
even if some of the cuts would certainly not be the easiest to find in this country.
Terrines; sausages; boudins; hams; offal; "the extremities" (joy of joys!) - they're
all here for the taking and making. Cured; roasted; braised; smoked; grilled; fried
and stuffed - pork in all its abundant, pink, fatty, glory has never had it so good!

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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2011
Grigson writes in same vein as Elizabeth David; anecdotal, intimate, discursive. She starts off by taking us into the charcutier's shop to select a picnic; what a delightful idea, and one that gets us immediately in the right frame of mind to approach the subject, but a little heady for the beginner. We are plunged straight away into discussing the right kinds of bread and wine, the selection of picnic stoves, the cuts of pork, and the translation of weights and measures.

From this we move to "Charcuterie Equipment", taking us from buying in the shop to creating at home. While some of the equipment can be improvised easily, other items are likely to be expensive and the days of picking them up on junk stalls at rural markets for a few pence are long gone.

Now equipped, and braced by a section on spices, herbs and sauces, we are plunged into the world of nose-to-tail eating. Many of the recipes, such as those for pates and sausages, are suitable for the ordinary enterprising cook, although at first reading they appear daunting. Others are for the more adventurous, happy to source the ingredients. If you are the Fearnley-Whittingstall type who is killing their own pig, no problem; but in rural areas buying half a pig isn't too tricky. If you don't keep pigs, much of the offal, ironically, will be more easily sourced in the conservative North than in the affluent South of the UK.

Curing your own bacon and ham is usually considered a specialist job, and personally I am a bit daunted by the prospect of attempting something so redolent of the risks of food poisoning. It would also be difficult, even for the smallholder, to get some of the ingredients (5 pints of blood?) unless the chap slaughtering your pig is very co-operative; butchers will often hang onto some of the offal unless you specifically ask for it. On the other hand, the reassurance of those who have commented on this review makes me keener to give it a go.

When this book was written (1967), charcuterie wasn't really available to the ordinary shopper, and day trips to France on the Eurostar mere pipe dreams. On the other hand, local pork butchers and small slaughterhouses were still routine. Even so, I wonder how many cooks actually attempted many of the recipes in those days. While it is charmingly written and very thought-provoking, it is no longer the only practical book for the ordinary cook. Up-to-date, well illustrated alternatives are available; however friends have had problems with the recipes in some. It would seem that this book still earns its place on the shelf, ahead of some of its flashier modern counterparts.
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on 24 November 2007
As smallholders we are always trying to maximise the use of our pigs when they meet with their fate. The River Cottage books helped at the start, but there is plenty more to be done - and with fantastic results. Grigson's book is informative (although you do have to read around each of the recipes, because they do not follow the conventional self-contained instructions. The reading around is not a hardship, and you will invariably find other hints/tips/wyas of processing the animal that distract you from your orignal thoughts).

There are recipes here for using all the pig - and, once you get over our pre-conceived ideas about what is edible, you will find a wide range of flavours opening up to you.
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on 4 January 2008
This book is well informed and an excellent source of traditional French charcuterie recipes. However it only gets three stars for the following reasons. Firstly this edition suffers from sloppy editing. Some recipes and passages of text appear to have words and sentences missing which render those sections useless.

Secondly things have moved on in the use of salpetre and cure mixtures that are better covered in e.g. "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing", particularly because we now recognise health implications in their use.

This book is good for reference but there are better books (see above) for the uninitiated
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on 19 April 2014
A very informative book and a good read too, despite Jane Grigson patronizing the reader a little she is till one of my favourite cookery writers, OK this was one of her first books and thus her style got better later but it is still up to the level expected.....what would you expect from someone who puts Elizabeth David where she so rightly belongs - at the head of the table. Jane I'm sure would be on her right hand side! If you want to know about the French style of dealing with pork and sausages this IS the book to get!
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on 7 March 2004
At last I have the book to give me the confidence to approach my local Charcuterie here in France! For some time I have not entered being afraid to make a foolish mistake with the weird and extraordinary goods on sale, but now armed with Jane Grigson's excellent guide I am able to understand exactly what I am buying and how to eat it.( As well as having knowledge of what it is made from!)
The book is clear and detailed and is a real asset in the country charcuterie where English is not a common language. It is also really useful in the Hypermarkets to explain the entire "Pork" section and encourages one to experiment!
So, dont be afraid try those odd looking saussicon sec and boudin noir - you wont regret it!
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on 4 October 2010
I am a Jane Grigson fan and I bought the book to complement my book on Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Rolycyn. It would be especially useful if living or holidaying in France, as Ms Grigson explains what all those interesting looking things are, that are on sale in every town. But it was first published in 1967 and it shows. It is not as well organised as the other book; the index could be better; weights and measures are in imperial, rather than metric; it still lists saltpetre as a curing ingredient, whereas today it has largely been replaced by sodium nitrite or 'pink salt'; some instructions are slightly confusing; and it has not been well edited. Nevertheless, the book contains a lot of interesting and valuable information and I would recommend it for anybody interested in charcuterie in the home, and the recipes that are included.
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on 18 September 2012
I have this as a traditional book and on my Kindle.
A joy! A writer who covers the topic in great depth but never bores. If you have wondered how the French have such wonderful pork products this will let you know and prompt you to try some for yourself.
A celebration of the pig.
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