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The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome Hardcover – Illustrated, August 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 525 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co (August 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688075894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688075897
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having tackled cooking with wine ( The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine ) and American food ( The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American ), TV chef and Methodist minister Smith now cheerfully brings ancient Chinese, Greek and Roman cookery down to earth. Much of his Herculean effort, however, turns up fare that appears relatively modern. And though the "Frug" enthusiastically talks history ("Caligula and Cleopatra used to drink expensive pearls crushed and dissolved in vinegar"), his view is unfailingly vernacular ("Those Romans must have had wild dinner parties!"). Characteristically, Smith goes out of his way to make food accessible, sometimes too much so: crushed potato chips garnish a Chinese fish salad, and MSG is an optional ingredient in many Hong Kong dishes. Unusual ingredients, cooking terms and techniques are ably covered, and the recipes themselves make entertaining reading, rollicking with such Smithisms as "cut a chicken wing into 3 logical pieces" and "the end result will just blow your socks off!" But cooking instructions can be sketchy: in a chicken stock recipe, straining and defatting techniques go unmentioned. Illustrations not seen by PW. First serial to Redbook; BOMC HomeStyle and Better Homes & Gardens Book Club main selections.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For his latest TV series, the ever-popular Frugal Gourmet focuses on the cuisines he feels most influenced the development of Western cooking. Here are some 400 recipes for Chinese (he finds the food in today's Hong Kong better than that of mainland China), Greek, and Italian dishes. Some are updated versions of ancient dishes, but many seem merely to be typical contemporary food from the three countries; few are complicated to prepare. Smith's vast audience ensures wide demand. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/89.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book by Jeff Smith has to be my favorite one that he has written.
Stephanie Manley
Also,readers preferring glossy pages and sumptuous photos will not be happy, though the book is quite attractive & well laid-out.
Lois-ellin Datta
I highly recommend this cookbook to any aspiring cook or even for the professional.
D. Massie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By an honest reviewer VINE VOICE on May 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With his very thorough research, Jeff Smith shared his studies and his knowledge very generously to readers.
This is a very fascinating book.It is not a recipe book, not a history book, not a travel book and not a book on his thoughts about cooking, it is all four elements presented in a well illustrated and well organized book.
His writing and quips brought me many smiles and giggles, so it is also entertaining as well as being a study into the cooking histories of China, Rome and Greece.
I read many books and usually donate most to second hand stores.I don't have lots of space for keeping things.Some of my books,I had to pay for in installments because they were rare and expensive.
This one will stay with me.It costed me only fifty cents and bought me a wealth of information.
I'll share a bit of information, to the Chinese cooking "is not a part of living,it is living".Greeks were instrumental in developing the frying pan.The very early Romans lived primarily on grains.
If you like cooking, history, and memoirs, you'll adore this wonderful book by Jeff Smith and I recommend it highly.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I entertain my Greek relatives, they are amazed by my flair in their native cooking. Jeff's recipes are easy to follow and make Greek cooking simple.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Manley VINE VOICE on October 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book by Jeff Smith has to be my favorite one that he has written. This book focuses on recipes from China, Greece, and Rome. The recies in this book are flavorful, and very enjoyable. My favorite recipe in here is strangely enough Garlic, Eggs, and Pasta. There is a wide range in recipes, both in flavors and ingredients. Jeff Smith does an excellent job of paring history as well as anecdotes with all of his recipes. This should be a must add for anyone who enjoys historical cooking.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By chefmar@yahoo.com on May 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Smith is on of my favorite authors. I know he is not a renouned one,but his cookbooks are so interesting especially Three Ancient Cusines. If you love different and exotic recipies, then buy this book!!! Chef Marian Thompson
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ! MR. KNOW IT ALL ;-b VINE VOICE on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent cook book! It's full of great recipes and stories by a very talented cook and writer. This one focuses on 3 major influences in the culinary world. Jeff Smith entertained us for years on his PBS program 'The Frugal Gourmet'. Not only did he teach us many savory dishes, he also educated us. Not satisfied with just cooking delicious meals for his viewers, he would give detailed history lessons about the origins of the dish and made it all a lot of fun!

This may be Mr. Smiths best cook book and it is a worthy edition to everyone's cook book library. I own and have read many, if not all of his cook books, not only for the man's knowledge of cooking, but his incredible wit! This guy was funny and I would have loved to have hung out and throw a few beers down with him.

Unfortunately, this man had some very seriously bad press released about his personal life and well..... I am not one to spread rumors.....he seemed like a great guy and sadly he died before he was able to clear his name.

R.I.P. Frugs!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Taking Chineese, Greek and Roman cooking influences, Smith ofTV fame brings forth an offering which resembles the James Beard books which provide not only great recipes but a running commentary on the culture which produces the food and some experience remembrances by the author.
This is fun cooking and well done. Well representative of the cuisines and done with helpful hints on each.
A workhorse for the cook willing to use it to branch out and experiement in these formative areas of food history. For openers, try Spareribs with Black Beans and Pepper Sauce, Halvah Cake or the Seafood Risotto.
My humble opinion is that Roman cooking is slighted out of the three. See Malto Mario for some great Rome recipes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dayna Thomas on October 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I never though I'd read a cookbook, but Jeff Smith is such an engaging personality that I was almost left wanting more prose and less recipes! If you like cooking and you like history, this book will deliver on both counts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lois-ellin Datta on June 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome," the recipes are contemporary, as of 1990. This is not a translation of the Roman Apicius (about AD 30) or of ancient Greek or Chinese sources. Smith delightedly tells us about what each of these peoples ate in times long past, their ingredients, ways of preparation, and ways of culinary life, however, and brings us dishes with the fine patina of ancient roots.

Thus, for a very low price (thanks to Amazon, my hard-back copy with dust-jacket & in excellent condition was 1 cent plus shipping), the reader can enjoy culinary history, travel stories, and about 1,000 recipes. Many come from restaurants Smith visited for his popular TV show, mentioned by name in this book. Since there are no photographs, space is used primarily for text. This makes for wide coverage: appetizers, soups, desserts, breads, veggies, eggs, meats, poultry, fish, salads, sauces, and rice. More unusually, dried foods and dumplings get chapters of their own. Without a lot of fuss, these are generally frugal (as one might expect) but not obsessively so.

The book does include clear line drawings where needed, such as cleaning squid. Handsome full-page black-and-white art introduces each chapter. Chapter organization is by food items, such as eggs, and within each chapter, the recipes from China, Greece, and Italy.

Recipes are generally easy to follow aided by introductory chapters on equipment and techniques. When Smith writes, "Chow the onions," we know he means to stir-fry over high heat, tossing the onions in very little oil. The level of preparation difficulty ranges from low to medium.
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