Everyday French Cooking

For the past two weeks I’ve been living like a bachelor, working in the city during the weekdays while my wife and son spent some time away at the cabin. As mentioned previously, I should not be left alone with myself. On my own, all proper thoughts of nutrition and culinary propriety leave my head and it’s not hard to find me eating a dinner of cornflakes and nacho chips at 11:30 in the evening (yes, I actually did this). This probably comes as a surprise to anyone who has been to a restaurant with me or been a dinner guest at Upper Fort Stewart. Excepting my unholy love of gravy (can’t make poutine without it!), I think it’s well known, I love fine food.

Anyway, all this digestive abuse has reminded me how much I love my old out of print copy of Everyday French Cooking by Henri Paul Pellaprat. Printed in 1968, it’s described in the introduction as being something like a primer on basic french cooking for the American house wife. For the American house wife? Where’s Beav and Wally with my Apron? Whatever, I love it. This, for me, is cooking orthodoxy. Whenever I follow a recipe from this book I produce a simple, almost platonic, meal that just tastes the way one thinks it should have tasted always. That’s an accomplishment. But it’s hard to expect less when the author was a professor at le Cordon Bleu, the MIT or Harvard of cooking schools, for over forty years.

My favorite recipes: Pellaprat’s simple Roast Chicken. Beef Bourguignon. Baked Eggs. Simple stuff that tastes perfect.

Most terrible sounding recipe that I long to try: Smothered Rabbit. That “widdle wabbit” was a monster, judge, he deserved it!

Recipe I just won’t ever make: Braised Sweetbreads Jardinière. Sweetbreads is guts.

If you ever get a chance to pick up this book, do it (you can buy it used from Amazon). It will increase your confidence in the kitchen, teach you something about cooking, and probably make for some great nights entertaining. Plus, it’s old looking, and does not have Rachel Ray on the cover. That always helps.

You know, somehow, I suspect Mssr. Pellaprat would not be amused by late night cornflakes and nacho chips.

5 responses to “Everyday French Cooking”

  1. I’m a cookbook fan and this one sounds just perfect. (There is definitely something to be said for a late night dinner of corn chips though.)

  2. I remember my first year in Canada when I discovered poutine for the first time. I couldn’t get enough and gained about a thousand pounds. Then I couldn’t see one without fleeing in the opposite direction and lost the thousand pounds. Seminal culinary moment in my life.

  3. Heather, there definitely is something to be said about late night corn chips and salsa, “don’t eat them with a bowl of cereal”.

    Imani, I used to work at a fried chicken outfit when I was a teenager where they served “mozza fries”, what we call poutine here on the prairies. At said chicken place they let employees run a tab that was discounted from their paycheck. Needless to say, I set a new record payday low after the tab was accounted for. Fried Chicken and “mozza fries” will do that to a young lad.

  4. I think you’ve sold me on this cookbook.

    Cookbook to avoid: Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess (hey, it was on sale!) – the cookie recipes are god-awfully bad! *gag*

  5. Awesome, it really is my favorite. Plus, Awful Cookbooks: I usually mark up my cookbooks with post-its saying, “Do Not Make This. Ever!”

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