Here's my review of The Professional Cook
as a learning tool for a novice cook. And here's my review of Peterson's Glorious French Food.
FordPrefect (btw, I love your name ;) : DON'T PANIC), neither is a good place to start if you are brand new to cooking. While the professional texts are okay for use in school, where there is an instructor to answer questions and clarify anything you don't understand,
if you try to use them all on your own, you will be lost from page one. That's true of the CIA book, of Gisslen's Professional Cooking
(which was the text where I went to school), and even somewhat true of Labensky's and Hause's On Cooking,
although I think that's the best of the bunch. (I have the Pauli book, but haven't looked at it much, so I can't give it a thumbs-up or down.)
So: look for the books that are meant for home cooks. Joy of Cooking
is one of the absolute best books, chockfull of information. (There's a new edition in the works, but don't wait for it; even the one from 1991 is excellent, although some people prefer even earlier editions.) Pepin's Complete Techniques
is good, if geared a bit above total novice. Peterson's Essentials of Cooking
is excellent, as is The New Cook
by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler. That last one is the book I give to everyone who starts asking me cooking questions. They have all loved it, and learned a huge amount from it.
And of course there's always Mastering the Art of French Cooking
-- some of it is dated now, but that's how many of us first learned to cook, and how many are STILL learning to cook. :)
Finally, please don't judge by number of pages versus price. It's what's ON the pages that counts! :lol: