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High Bonnet: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures (Modern Library Food) Paperback – June 26, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Food
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 2001 Modern Library pbk. ed edition (June 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375757562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375757563
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,801,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The high bonnet of Idwal Jones's book, published in 1945 and now reprinted by the Modern Library Food series, is the chef's toque, a symbol of his stature, of cooking itself. Achieving the high bonnet is the good fortune of the novel's Jean-Marie Gallois, a young confisseur (candy maker) from Provence who has earned an apprenticeship at Paris's famed Faisen d'Or restaurant. But Jean-Marie's ascension to glory is not the novel's central concern; revealing a world entirely devoted to food--getting it, eating it, and discussing it--is. In prose as sensually provocative as the dishes his characters enjoy, Jones acquaints readers with a world dedicated to pursuing pleasure at the table and the craft that makes it, in its culinary dimension at least, most possible. The joy and art of High Bonnet is that its readers instantly ally themselves with the characters--with their mania for dining high, low, and outrageous (on the perfect Potage Crécy and prehistoric muskox, for example). It's an exciting feat.

Early in the book, we meet the Baroness, who eats "with eyes half drooped, like a pigeon's in flight, allowing [a] croustade to splinter under her excellent teeth." Jones's splendid creation is also responsible for sending Jean-Marie to his apprenticeship, and thus to our encountering a Vietnamese anarchist; Guido, the roguish Italian kitchen expediter; a dwarf rôtissuer; an alcoholic waiter; a saffron-stashing sauce master, and many more extraordinary characters. Meals are enjoyed and stories are told, like that of a man "ruined by a dish," the creator of a legendary curry recipe who falls disastrously from great heights when he can no longer obtain the dish's "secret" ingredient. A philosophy is also put before us: "Never expect a perfect dinner to come from a clean kitchen," says a character; "as well as expect one from a laboratory." In our own age of mass cooking, it's particularly alluring to follow the adventures of Jean-Marie and company. High Bonnet is a window on a lost world and human activity that today cries for the book's vital passion. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Jones's amusing 1945 novel, back in print for the first time in 40 years as the sixth entry in the Modern Library Food series, follows the adventures of Jean-Marie Gallois as he works his way up from apprentice saucier to chef de cuisine (along the way earning his "high bonnet") in renowned French restaurants. This is not, however, a novel about kitchen politics or about a young provincial becoming a Parisian man-about-town. This is a novel about food with a capital F, about meals, extravagant meals, had in fine dining rooms, country gardens and filthy taverns alike. As Anthony Bourdain (author of Kitchen Confidential) says in an introduction, in this book "everyone" from Jean-Marie's confectioner uncle to the Gypsy coppersmith who mends the kitchen pots "is a gourmet or a gourmand, racing through life oblivious to all creature comforts but the pursuit of flavor." Jones does take care to describe the workings of a 1930s French kitchen. He seems to relish capturing all the players, from scullions to wealthy diners. But he lingers most lovingly over his descriptions of food and flavors, and the pleasure of eating. A revered chef, for instance, has "an exquisite palate... so edged that it could cleave through a strange dish and its complexities to the intent of the chef" while a young woman attracts attention not with her beauty but with her appetite. Readers who want a full-blown story will be disappointed, but those who savor food writing will be thrilled by the wit and descriptive powers of this neglected author.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chris Frost on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
....it's porn for cooks! The vivid and colourful descriptions are absolutely mind-blowing. My only advice to someone thinking about reading this is that unless you really know your stuff, you might want to have a copy of Larousse handy, as there are quite a few references to things that the average reader may not understand or know about.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I started to devour this book, then, afraid to get to the end too soon, I began to pace myself---in order to savor the feast thoroughly. Idwal Jones's prose is totally intoxicating--his descriptions of tastes, textures, perfumes are so vivid you can almost taste the rich sauces, smell the aroma of roasting meat, get drunk on the wines. This is not a novel of events, so much as sensations. Yet all the characters are alive and convincing. Anyone who truly connects with food and its pleasures will be ravished. Makes Proust's madeleine seem poor fare.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this on a Daily Meal website of the top 10 food books of all time. It is really wonderful and if you're into food, you'll enjoy it totally. Is also a good history of the times and area.
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By Words&Music on December 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is misnamed a novel. It's more a series of vignettes, witty exchanges in a cafe among the sophisticated and raffish, world weary. Think of it along the lines of the film MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. With those expectations, it's a charming book to pick up and put down, but it will not engage you as a novel might. Still, each chapter is its own little apperitif.
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