Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics By James Peterson, John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Hardcover. $45; 742 pagesThe purpose of a weighty, comprehensive cookbook like Glorious French Food is to provoke a cook out of his or her narrowing habits. The obligations of the author: to gather a great deal of delicious recipes and to write with a tricky balance of authority, originality, and voice. All this James Peterson achieves with ease.
Most chapters begin with a classic recipe such as Pork Noisettes with Prunes, then dive into core cooking techniques associated with that dish, and then provide related recipes that build on those techniques. This focus on benchmark recipes adds a nice rhythm.
A wry tone prevails, but there's lots of meaty detail to chew on along the way. And, by the way, the recipes work: Duck with Turnips—a dish with five ingredients, though one of them is homemade stock—was earthy, sweet, and tender.
GIVE THIS TO: Good cooks seeking to expand their repertoire. —Scott Mowbray