Gourmet, scientist, and cookbook writer of endearing prose, Edourad de Pomiane's revolutionary approach to French food and diet of his day involved sane, perceptive simplification--a distinctly modern tactic. Cooking with Pomiane
, first published in the 1930s and reissued in the Modern Library Food
series, encapsulates Pomiane's debunking methods: away with complicated techniques and elaborate sauces; in their place, find concise formulas that discover the essence of their ingredients and celebrate them in simple preparations. Though Pomiane provided precise, even scientific cooking rationales ("Everyone agrees that [fish] must be served [before] the meat course," he writes, "...but such as meal is far too rich in nitrogenous substances"), he is also a beguiling instructor. "Take a bunch of parsley," he advises, "the size of a bunch of violets." Any reader interested in cooking and its modern history will treasure the book.
Beginning with useful information for the host or hostess (for a dinner party, "one should prepare only one good dish," Pomiane advises sensibly), the book then presents over 300 recipes, arranged by course or type, and "a few drinks." Pomiane's revolutionary approach is embodied in his formula for Noodles with Mushrooms, which requires only noodles, mushrooms, butter, and grated Parmesan. Use good ingredients and you have a feast. Though he includes many, albeit streamlined, recipes from the classic canon, such as Artichauts à la Barigoule (artichokes braised with a ham, bread crumb, and onion stuffing), he also supplies recipes that were unconventional in his day, including Choucroute Salad and Piroshki. Readers will also want to prepare such treats as Mousse au Chocolat (chocolate, sugar, eggs, cream) and Pumpkin Gratin (pumpkin, almonds, sugar, an egg, and macaroons). With an introduction by Elizabeth David, the book provides a rare opportunity to meet and learn from an original cooking master. --Arthur Boehm