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133 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic French home cooking book
This cannot be an objective review. I learned to cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as did many. When I discovered that Julia Child relied on another book, by a French woman and published in 1927, I had to have a copy. La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. St-Ange has remained on my countertop for over twenty years.

Not that I have cooked much from it. My...
Published on November 1, 2005 by David A. Heintz

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you are a cooking history buff you will love this book............,
If you are a cooking history buff you will love this book. But, if you are not an experienced cook this is not the cookbook for you. If you collect cookbooks go for it, if you a gourmet cook go for it, if you want to learn to cook French and you are new to cooking forget this book and go for another cookbook with more detailed cooking instruction. Given that though this...
Published on March 7, 2006 by Laurann's Mom


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133 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic French home cooking book, November 1, 2005
This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
This cannot be an objective review. I learned to cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as did many. When I discovered that Julia Child relied on another book, by a French woman and published in 1927, I had to have a copy. La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. St-Ange has remained on my countertop for over twenty years.

Not that I have cooked much from it. My French is poor enough that translating was a chore, and I have dozens (hundreds?) of perfectly fine French cookbooks in English at hand. But this one book remained.

Mr. Aratow's translation was long in the making: my Amazon order was open almost two years. It is worth the wait. He has lovingly, and I believe, faithfully rendered the words of Madame, finally offering them up to me and fulfilling the allure that this book has held all these years.

The French have four basic types of cookery:

La haute cuisine: as you would find in a starred restaurant (mostly by men.)

La cuisine regionale: featuring the local ingredients of a province.

La cuisine impromptue: what we Americans digest most nights.

La cuisine bourgeoise: the cooking - real cooking - of the household (mostly by women.) La Bonne Cuisine is the touchstone of the latter.

This is not to say that you will learn to cook la cuisine bourgeoise from this book. It is not for a beginner. It presumes that one has the basic cooking skills of a Frenchwoman in the late 1920's. One knows how to roast a chicken, for example. (This is only done on a spit, according to Madame. Note that our ovens do not have a control labeled "roast", but "bake.") Also, in the pervasive "Wall-Marting" of American grocery shopping, many ingredients will not be available.

No. This is a book that will make a good cook a much better cook. I have always thought that cooking, French cooking in particular, is not so much about the results but about the process - and its links with the past. We can cook and, like Proust's Madeleine, experience something of a bygone time, a past that we could not have experienced firsthand, thanks to Madame's La Bonne Cuisine, and Paul Aratow's translation.

And the results will be quite tasty, believe me. Just keep a copy of an "Americanized" French cook book handy, say the much-underappreciated Glorious French Food by James Peterson. The marriage of his technical expertise and Madame's wisdom will make you a great home cook. Just look for the ingredients!

Some curiosities: my copy of the book is 786 pages, exactly. Not the 1392 pages claimed here. Also, there is no recipe for coq a vin, a ubiquitous staple of the French home menu. This I do not understand.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel of Farmhouse Food, January 2, 2006
By 
J. V. Lewis (secure undisclosed location) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
Most serious cookbooks these days approach their subject with one fundamental flaw: they attempt to convert restaurant cooking to home cooking, and usually steer the unwary toward oversimplified and ultimately unrewarding food. Recently a few outstanding cookbooks have bucked this trend, either by sticking to simple dishes and carefully vetting the recipes for home kitchens [as in Anthony Bordain's excellent Les Halles Cookbook] or by going straight to the farmhouse source of great home-made food [as in Paula Wolfert's contemporary classic The Cooking of Southwest France]. For years, maybe since the early days of Chez Panisse, what we have lacked is the kind of fundamental instructional book, part recipe book, part primer, part Larousse Gastronomique Bourgeois, that could fill out our knowledge and broaden our technique. La Bonne Cuisine is that book. In the month since it arrived it has become a key part of my menu-planning process, and probably the most practical primer on my long shelf of food books. With La Bonne Cuisine, the Oxford Companion to Wine, the Larousse, and Richard Olney I feel connected to a galaxy of masters whose knowledge can filter down to my humble American kitchen in useful and inspiring ways. So, if you have good kitchen fundmentals, love to perfect good rustic dishes, and wish to escape the trap of trying to replicate restaurant preparations, I recommend Mme. St. Ange's book. Next time you're making a Daube Provencal, for example, read the section on braising meats first. It will improve your food.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The great classic of cuisine bourgeoise, November 3, 2005
By 
Stavros Macrakis (Cambridge, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
Madame Saint-Ange is the bible of bourgeois cooking. Written in 1924, I think it's been in print continuously in France. It is now out in an excellent English translation by Aratow, the co-founder of Chez Panisse. I wouldn't have believed that the cadences of the original French could be so well rendered into English, but here they are!

Bourgeois cooking is the cooking of the urban upper middle class, people who in 1924 probably had a servant, but not a full kitchen staff. It is emphatically not "farmhouse cooking" (as another reviewer suggests), but definitely urban and urbane.

Madame Saint-Ange's recipes lay very heavy emphasis on technique, and often build on each other. One of my favorites is the recipe for Boeuf a la Mode (Braised Beef). The recipe itself is only about two pages, but it refers back to the section on "How to braise red meats", which is several pages, and in turn refers back to the section on "How to make a stock", another several pages. And it all pays off with a moist, rich piece of meat in an unctuous sauce.

Although she's a perfectionist, she realizes that you don't always have the time or money for doing things the best way. She often gives variations which are faster or cheaper.

All in all, a marvelous cookbook.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets of French Technique Revealed!, January 30, 2006
By 
K. Patterson (Berkeley, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
Beyond the recipes for fine French cuisine lies a vast hidden land of culinary secrets. As anyone who has tried to make really good french fries knows you can't just slice up a potato and stick it into a fryer--you have to understand everything from what type of potato to use to the type of frying fat to the proper temperatures for cooking (and recooking) to get reliable excellent results.

This tome teaches those secrets and many more. Here is a cookbook that spends pages on not just recipes but technique-how to braise, how to sear, how to purify fat for cooking. Although most of us may never have the time to follow these recipes exactly, just reading this book will teach you more about cooking than you every imagined possible and simply make you a better cook yourself. No wonder this book inspired Julia Child to write the seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

The translation is great, the range of the book amazing, heck, we sit around our kitchen table reading it to each other. You can open the pages anywhere and learn something new about meat, vegetables, pastry, any aspect of traditional French cuisine.

Buy it. Learn from this book. You will be not only a better cook, but understand why you are a better cook.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Bonne Book!, December 8, 2005
This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I have just completed making the strawberry compote from this book. I'm pretty sure it is the most delicious thing I have ever cooked--maybe ever eaten! (Actually, the hollandaise I made from this book is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.) OK, it's a toss up. They are both wonderful! And that's just breakfast. I am going to try some lunch dishes next. I have never before had a cookbook that inspired me like this is. I feel when I'm cooking from it like my kitchen is a sanctuary. The steps just feel more special. The way it's written and translated is like you are having the world's finest chef ever giving you personal instruction. I've always, always loved to cook, but there's something magical about this. This book is fun, and smart, and beautifully artful too. It is sitting right on my kitchen counter next to my family photos. I want to share it with everyone. Excellent!!!

Pasta Primavera
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is all you need, March 8, 2007
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
If you want to learn how to cook this is the book for you. It is a brilliant book that will make you love cooking and of course eating!!!

It will also send you in an imaginary trip to France!

If you take your time and make one recipe at a time, you will adore the end result.

This book has no pictures and it is a "manual" to be followed page by page.

If you can't cook well after following the recipes in this book, you never will!!!!

It changed the way I thought about cooking well.

This book is also a great addition to your cook book library.

Enjoy!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight for the kitchen or the armchair cook, March 8, 2006
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
Why this 1927 masterpiece has never before been translated into English is a mystery. Not only is it patient, authoritative and marvelously instructive, it's such a delight to read I had to keep interrupting myself to read passages aloud to my husband. Already baffled that I "read cookbooks like novels," he seemed more befuddled than charmed by such bons mots as:

"For people who are totally ignorant of kitchen manners, let us specify that the soufflé can only be served in the utensil in which it has been cooked."

And, a little further along in the two-plus pages of instructions for making a soufflé (something I intend never to do):

"The right time to put the soufflé into the oven is NOT when you have checked that the oven has reached the right temperature. In fact, the oven should have reached the right temperature before you began to whisk the egg whites."

There are many things I never intend to try from Madame Saint-Ange's book. Most, probably. In this too, I intend to follow Madame's advice: "If the glazing cannot be accomplished rapidly and without boiling the sauce, it's better not to try it."

But the basics alone are worth the price. Engaging as well as exacting, Madame explains the hows and also the whys of skimming a sauce, sautéing a chicken, grilling a fish or preparing the perfect pot-au-feu. Whatever you do, "It is impossible to overemphasize these last conditions: time and care." The French sauce, in particular, requires "a painstaking and interminable skimming," yet such is Madame's enthusiasm you will feel encouraged to try it.

Madame starts off with equipment, cooking vocabulary and techniques, before proceeding to the essential jus and sauce chapter, which any French-minded cook will refer to again and again. The remainder of the book is set up traditionally - from fish to dessert and pastries and concludes with a list of seasonal menus.

While there are more than 1,000 recipes, most branch off from a basic dish - a braise, roast or sauté, usually. She explains how the professionals do it, then adapts these methods for the home cook. Recipes generally feed six and the times given include preparation. This last item will give the average American cook pause. A braised sirloin takes more than four hours and requires a good bouillon (4 to 5 hours), while a classic sauce takes 1 to 2 hours and a sautéed chicken an hour and a half. Of course, much of the preparation can be done ahead and what are weekends for anyway?

Aratow's translation (he was the co-founder and original chef at Chez Panisse) sparkles with incisive wit and precision. Madame herself would have approved.

As valuable in its historical context as its practical, this is a rigorous primer for the home cook of her day. "If they are alive, kill the perch by banging their heads on the sink." Madame includes directions for gutting a fowl, and does not assume everyone has a refrigerator. The home cook's economics command her respectful attention.

But the best cooking methods are timeless. That is, they may require lots of time, but will always reward a careful investment. To quote Madame one last time: "We insist on this, without fear of going too far."

--Portsmouth Herald
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure Trove for Serious Cooks and an Entertaining Read for the Rest of Us, December 12, 2005
By 
Ronald Parker (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
For people who love to cook, La Bonne Cuisine offers a treasure trove of dishes and recipes from a time and place in which home cooking was an art. For those of us who are better at eating than we are at cooking, La Bonne Cuisine offers the vicarious pleasures one finds in great travel/history books.

This is a wonderful gift to give - or, even better, to receive!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a timeless cookbook for the ages, March 14, 2007
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
Well, there's not much I can add to what has already been written on these pages regarding this fine book. As with other great cookbooks which contain much more than recipies, I read it cover to cover before attempting any of the many dishes. There are a few awkward moments with the translation, but other than the totally baffling 'Hunter's Sauce' (pg. 60), your own good sense will guide you through these. It's not, however, the recipies that are the only value of this book, but, as others have mentioned, the delight is in the details, and the working knowledge of the author (you'll understand how the French can eat such rich foods and get away with it - "remove every atom of fat."). Madame will guide you through each painstaking step from beginning to end, from choosing meats and vegetables, seasonings, serving suggestions... in what is a comprehensive, and highly educational course in French cooking. Good cooking takes time and effort, and those willing to put forth the effort will find that Madame has taken the time to inform us, perhaps as never before. Happy cooking
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious and Interesting, December 20, 2005
By 
Virginia Greco (Santa Monica, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking (Hardcover)
This books lives up to my expectations 100%. I love home cooking and these recipes and instructions turn lists of ingredients into special meals. It is not just for experienced hands in the kitchen; this book is also just the right boost of encouragement for a beginning home cook who aspires to put really good meals on the table. It is as if I am being instructed by a strict perfectionist whom I really want to please. Some processes do require time and patience, but more experienced home cooks will know, as Mr. Aratow points out in the introduction, when to plug in the food processor and when you do it Madame's way. La Bonne Cuisine is also interesting to just sit down and read. It is a window into the legendary French home kitchen. It is so engrossing that I will take this cookbook on my next coast to coast flight instead of a novel.
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