The Best French Cookbooks

Find our top 6 picks for the best French cookbooks of the past 25 years.

Lulu's Provençal Table Cookbook
Photo: Randy Mayor

Lulu's Provençal Table

Lulu's Provençal Table By Richard Olney, Ten Speed Press, 2002. Hardcover. From $70 (market price at printing); 392 pages

Richard Olney moved to Provence in 1961 and had the good fortune to befriend the owners of Domaine Tempier. The Lulu of the title is spirited and a great cook, natural hostess, and sailor.

This book is more than a collection of recipes. It begins with an account of the love affair between Lulu and Lucien Peyraud and their struggle to establish their now-celebrated Bandol winery.

Then we go into Lulu's wondrous kitchen, where Olney offers a seat at her celebrated table. We see the comfortable exchanges between friends: Lulu cooks, and Olney takes his notes. He shares her staples, including Lucien's Soup, a pureed potage of leeks, potato, and turnip, a meal "I fix for Lucien every evening when we're alone," Lulu says.

There is succulent Pot-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Black Olives with Zucchini Gratin, and Gratin de Pommes de Terre à l'Oseille (Potato and Sorrel Gratin), delicious with just six ingredients. There are plenty of simple recipes, but Bouillabaisse is a fascinating 10 pages long.

GIVE THIS TO: Francophiles, country-cooking romantics, and wine lovers. —Tiffany Vickers Davis

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