Cookbook Corner: French

In honor of our Books, Spice, and Everything Nice theme (and spice club!), we’ll be doing a monthly round-up of our cookbooks. We have a really nice and extensive collection, but it’s easy to get lost in the sheer number of them. Hopefully these posts help! In honor of our July spice nutmeg, we’ll be focusing on French cookbooks this month.

If you want a good introduction:

Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours (2010)

Food writer and chef Dorie Greenspan is an American who didn’t start cooking until she was an adult, but her years living in France have given her a great appreciation for French food and culture. In this cookbook, she shares the French home cooking recipes she has grown to love (for everything from roast chicken to onion soup to chocolate mousse) while also recounting her own fond memories of these dishes.

Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites From My Life in Food (2011)

If I had to pick a favorite TV chef, it would be Jacques, hands down. He’s of course a great chef, but he’s also a wonderful teacher, and those two things don’t always overlap. I always found him oddly encouraging and appreciate his accessible, informative instructions and emphasis on technique. A lot of food personalities assume basic knowledge, so when I was first learning how to cook, I liked how Jacques didn’t mind showing you how to do stuff you should have already known without being patronizing about it. This cookbook is a compilation of hundreds of recipes, from childhood favorites like apple tart to dishes from around the world.

If you enjoy graphic novels:

Guillaume Long’s To Drink and To Eat: Tastes & Techniques from a French Kitchen (2020)

Guillaume Long doesn’t have the same name recognition in American pop culture as he does in French pop culture, but he has a long-time culinary comic in Le Monde, which is the inspiration for this book. This is a collection of already published material, alongside new never-bef0re-seen work created specifically for the book. The result is a mix of humorous autobiographical details; informative tips on everything from ingredients to equipment; and fun artwork. Not full of recipes but does include some.

If you’re interested in French regional cuisine:

Culinaria : France (1999)

Part of a series on national cuisines, this one takes you on a tour of France’s culinary heritage, from the shores of Normandy to the streets of Paris to the beaches of Provence. Packed full of illustrations and photographs, Culinaria includes information on the cuisine of each French region, recipes, and helpful breakdowns of the country’s famous wines and cheeses.

If you know a young chef:

Lisa Wagner’s Cool French Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids (2011)

Like other entries in this series, this book provides a handy, kid-friendly introduction to French cooking. In addition to helpful information on technique, ingredients, and equipment, the book also includes recipes for salad Nicoise, onion soup, Croque Monsieur, quiche Lorraine, and more.

If you want to bake:

Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery (2012)

This cookbook is from Keller’s Bouchon Bakery restaurant, but it draws heavily on the knowledge he acquired during his French culinary training. It’s very thorough and packed full of helpful instructions. This is probably not a great book for beginners–the recipes themselves are precise but often quite time-consuming–but it’s a quality cookbook for those looking to expand their baking horizons. You’ll find recipes for French classics like baguettes and macarons, as well as more down-home American favorites like blueberry muffins and peanut butter cookies.

If you’d rather read a memoir:

Julia Child’s My Life in France (2006)

For many Americans, Julia Child was their gateway to learning more about French cooking. Child’s knowledge of French cuisine made her a staple of public television, but as she reveals in her memoir, this is hardly information she grew up knowing. In fact, when she first moved to France as a newlywed in her thirties, she couldn’t cook anything, let alone complicated French classics. Her journey of falling in love with cooking and French cuisine is charmingly recounted in this book, which is also a great glimpse of what expat life was like in France post-World War II. We’ve also got Mastering the Art of French Cooking I if Julia inspires you to try your hand at some recipes.

Whose your favorite TV chef? What are you cooking in July? What’s your favorite French cookbook? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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