Jan 14

Going French


My love affair with France and all its food has been steadily growing ever since I first visited in June this year.

So far I have had the great fortune of being able to revisit Paris for a second time this year, and everytime I visit my comprehension of the French language improves as well. It is a real blessing to have moved all those miles across the globe to end up living, quite literally, just round the corner from France. A train ride to Paris on the Thalys service takes about 3 hrs; that’s like driving from Kuala Lumpur to the state of Johor or from Melbourne to Halls Gap.

Paris in autumn is gorgeous and rather pleasant actually. The leaves are all a brilliant gold and amber, there aren’t as many people crowding the streets as compared to summer, and avenue de la Concorde all the way up to the Louvre is not as dusty. The downside is that most of the fountains have been emptied in preparation for winter.

A much scaled down version of the book, focusing only on meats, poultry and game.



Now that I live in Amsterdam, I cannot just pop into any old bookstore and pick up a cookbook expecting it to be written in English. I have the choice of about three or four English bookstores in the city and that’s about it ~ and most are expensive. However, there is this one bookshop close to the Amsterdam Flower Market and they sell lots of English books for a very decent price ~ and they have a whole WALL of cookbooks just waiting to be picked up by me. Two books for about € 20 is right up my alley.



The first book exudes a certain joie de vivre with all its Frenchness. It’s first pages are cleverly divided into France’s regions and their corresponding cuisine … makes for a very fascinating read. If it is quality seafood you are after, including excellent native oysters, then it is to Brittany you have to go. The Loire Valley is home to fine wines, wild mushrooms, goats cheese and andouillettes (a course-ground meat sausage). The Alsace-Lorraine region to the east borders on Germany, and this proximity is reflected in its cuisine. Red cabbage cooked in wine, tarte flambée (flammekueche) and pretzels are all staples of the region, as well as kugelhopf.



The Food of France- Murdoch Books Pty Ltd (2000)



The Food of France – Murdoch Books Pty Ltd (2000)




The Food of France – Murdoch Books Pty Ltd (2000)




The second book was more of an impulse buy than anything … I mean seriously, am I going to cook stuff from a Larousse Gastronomique book? I wouldn’t even know where to begin … I am that unskilled. I might have better luck cooking out of Julia Childs’ book than anything else … but alas, her book was not on offer at the store.



My first impression was that the Larousse book was very no-nonsense. There are no flamboyant pictures on the cover enticing you to take a peek inside. The recipes are to the point and read like a running commentary, as opposed to being numbered or bullet-pointed. No fancy-schmancy high rezz photos to accompany each recipe either, with the exception of about 20 of them in the middle of this bible-sized book. The rest of its pages are simply jam packed with recipe after recipe.



Seeing as which this book is focusing only on meats, poultry and game, expect just that. The sections of this book include meat dishes of beef, mutton, pork and veal; then comes the offal section from tip of the nose to the end of the tail ~ this section is rather extensive. Following the offal comes poultry dishes and game (grouse, partridge, hare, wild boar … etc). Frogs and snails get their very own section (quite rightly so) and then it finishes off with basic recipes and classic accompaniments such as the various batters, pastries, stocks and sauces.



Larousse Gastronomique : Meat, Poultry & Game (English Ed. 2004) Octopus Publishing Group Ltd




Larousse Gastronomique : Meat, Poultry & Game (English Ed. 2004) Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.




In all honesty, I don’t believe I will ever use this book to cook with. I like reading about the way certain dishes are done though, hence I think it will serve as a referance guide more than anything else. I did not realize just how many recipes there were in here that used offal as the main ingredient … I know that is going to be one section I will skip entirely. Will keep everyone updated in the future about whether or not I succeed in making a single recipe from this book. Who knows, my cooking skills might get better or I might just be intoxicated one day and believe myself capable of replicating said recipes single-handedly.






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