Pros: New presentations of classic, rustic, rural French dishes
Cons: The 2005 edition has 60 new or updated recipes & is recommended over the 1983 edition
It is not enough just to cook food to live: food, itself, is the living heart of the culture that prepares it. Know the food, and you'll know the culture: know the culture and you will know the food.
This review’s title is a quote from a review published in Vogue by Jeffrey Steingarten in 1983. I know what you're thinking - if you are not a classically-trained cook: "French, rustic, unusual ingredients that are difficult to find - why bother?", and, if you are a classically-trained chef, who, years ago, spent much time sweating in the kitchen of a cooking icon: "Old school, rough around the edges dishes, not visual enough - why bother?" WRONG - on both counts! These recipes are fabulous, do-able, practical and fit today's culinary trend of "sustainable comfort food".
Paula Wolfert is far more than simply the gal who has won the James Beard Award, the Julia Child Award, the M. F. K. Fisher Award, and many others, and who still writes a regular column for Food & Wine Magazine. Paula is a chronicler of the social anthropology of the cuisines of critically-focused places. Much like Rick Bayless, a social anthropologist, studied and absorbed the 'life' of Mexico before he began cooking it's food, Paula has done the same in several Mediterranean countries. This particular cookbook is a classic for one of the most delicious and "cuddly" cuisines in Europe, that of the southwest region of France.
If you had a restaurant that offered dishes as presented in this cookbook, you would be fully booked for weeks in advance. I've never found such a place in North America, outside of a couple of spots in Montreal and old Quebec. If you are a home cook, you will surprise, dazzle and nurture your family and guests with any of the 200 recipes Paula has presented here.
This is about passion, tradition and, above all, achievable excellence in good cooking. A 'must-have' for those who want to master a great cuisine, or simply serve astoundingly delicious meals.