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210 of 214 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tout le Monde
Certainly the grande dame of cookbooks can't be everything to everyone but what it does do, better than anything else, is teach you the proper way to master the myriad of cooking techniques. If the book is heavy, it's because it's the foundation of every other cookbook you could own. Certianly "Joy of Cooking" is also remarkable in this respect, but if you want...
Published on July 5, 2003 by Jason_Els

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153 of 157 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Considerably shallower than the 1961 original translation :(
I just bought the 1961 first edition for $45 at a used shop. I hadn't noticed that the modern version reviewed here was actually on remainder for 5 bucks less -- the cashier pointed this out to me, and I went back to compare. There was a note in the old edition saying "This (better) ed OP". I trust my local bookshop, so I put them side by side, and was shocked to find...
Published on December 26, 2004 by Morgan Venable


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210 of 214 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tout le Monde, July 5, 2003
By 
Jason_Els (Warwick, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
Certainly the grande dame of cookbooks can't be everything to everyone but what it does do, better than anything else, is teach you the proper way to master the myriad of cooking techniques. If the book is heavy, it's because it's the foundation of every other cookbook you could own. Certianly "Joy of Cooking" is also remarkable in this respect, but if you want to rise about just being good, Larousse will teach you. Yes it is Franco-centric but deservedly, the French have a culinary legacy second to none in the world and the techniques you learn in Larousse will serve you well no matter if cooking Chinese, Italian, or even New American.
The four foundations the book synthesizes are: Technique, Tools, Ingredients, and Creativity. Ever wanted to know the essence of celery? Just how an egg does all the things that it does? Larousse will tell you. Similary, with tools, Larousse is an illumination. If Williams Sonoma ever seemed superfluous, Larousse will shock you into realizing there are advantages to owning copper pots, balanced wisks, and a bombe mould or two. Correct tools are essential to exemplary results.
Larousse is not a dead book of "ancient regime" heavy sauces (though they are included), but rather a living book, inspirational in its depth. If it can be accused of being stodgy, and it has, it's because it wants to emphasize the basics of cooking and, once that is mastered, leaves you free to go out on your own. Once the four foundations have been mastered it's up to you to excel. That's not to say there aren't complex and difficult recipes, there are; but they tend to be more traditional though make no mistake, the top chefs of France have contributed recipes to Larousse.
There are shortfalls. As noted before it does not cover the other grande cuisines of the world (namely Chinese and Italian) with anything remotely resembling a catholic perspective, but then it doesn't purport to be an all-encompassing cookbook. As a book it is dry and its emphasis on exact, rigid technique seems rather imperious. While the haughty tone may seem to be a fault, it's actually worded so as to express the exact requirement of a task in the clearest terms. When you get to the highest levels of cooking techniques there is no room for error. You're dealing with physical and chemical properties that require exact processes to succeed. Pull them off and you'll amaze yourself.
If you learn to cook using Larousse Gastronomique and follow it faithfully, there won't be a cuisine in the world you can't tackle or a cooking task you won't perform without confidence. I can't say that about any other cookbook.
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153 of 157 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Considerably shallower than the 1961 original translation :(, December 26, 2004
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
I just bought the 1961 first edition for $45 at a used shop. I hadn't noticed that the modern version reviewed here was actually on remainder for 5 bucks less -- the cashier pointed this out to me, and I went back to compare. There was a note in the old edition saying "This (better) ed OP". I trust my local bookshop, so I put them side by side, and was shocked to find that a *large* number of recipes have been excised from the original edition. In some cases it's merely the omission of a few variations under a heading [see "achar" -- from 3 recipes to 1 in the new], but in many cases it's a wholesale excision [see "ketchup" -- no recipe in current version AFAICT].

I believe very much in cookbooks that do one thing and do it right -- ethnic cookbooks dedicated solely to their particular cuisines. A grand unified cookbook is a noble undertaking, but in this edition it appears that depth has been sacrificed to include a broader range of items in less-than-ideal detail.

I have been saddened in recent years to see the great cookbooks watered down or losing focus -- the new Joy of Cooking feels much the same to me when compared to my mother's version.

Bottom line: Larousse had a great vision -- an encyclopaedia of *French* Cuisine. The addition of other cuisines by the editors should not have been undertaken without the same attention to detail. The end result is still a massive and relevant book, but lacks the focus and truly stunning depth of the original.

If they decide to compile a 10,000-page multivolume compendium, then we'll be talking. Until then, I'm sticking with the older editions.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, Exhaustive Reference to French and World Food, May 26, 2004
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
This weighty, 1200 page volume is a reliable gold standard among culinary works. It should not surprise that it is originally a work published in French (Larousse is a major French publisher that specializes in encyclopedic volumes on many subjects). The inevitability of the volume is based on the premier place of French cuisine on the world stage and on the very European tradition of publishing great omnibus works on just about every subject imaginable. It was Diderot in 17th century France who invented the encyclopedia and great references in most subjects are available in French or German or even Italian long before they are available in English.
The blurb on the front of my edition states that the Larousse Gastronomique is the `World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia'. I cannot judge this statement for volumes available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Hindi, or Arabic. But, in English, this is undoubtedly true. This statement is true not only for the size of the volume, but for the great range of subjects the editors have chosen to include. The entries cover all the obvious things such as vegetables, meats, fish, shellfish, herbs, spices, fruits, and spice mixtures.
On these subjects, the writers do not limit themselves to a simple description of appearance, taste, seasonality, geographic distribution, and a statement of culinary uses. It includes representative recipes for almost all basic foodstuffs, the number depending on the relative importance of the food. The entry for aubergines (eggplant) includes a general recipe for the preparation of the vegetable plus eight recipes within the article itself plus references to eight other recipes under other articles. The drawings or photographs accompanying articles on major foodstuffs like aubergines are truly first rate. I am pleased, but not surprised at this, as I have come to expect European editors to do as good or better job of illustrating books than American publishers, especially where these illustrations are an important aspect of the work. Regarding the illustrations in general, the genius of the editors is in the great variety of media used in the pictures. Where technical detail is important, color drawings are used to focus on the important and hide the incidental in pictures of raw ingredients, for example. Where a prepared dish is pictured, photographs are typically used. Where the subject is a geographical or historical subject, the first choice is usually an historical engraving, painting, or cartoon.
If the book covered no more than these foods, it would be a valuable work indeed, but it also covers such diverse subjects as geographical regions of culinary interest such as Provence, both common and rare kitchen tools such as the autoclave and the bain marie, culinary songs such as chants used by street vendors in Paris, types of eating establishments such as café, bistro, and restaurant. One of my favorite things is to be looking for a particular entry and run across some other totally appropriate, yet totally unexpected entry. My most recent find is an article on the traditional fraternal orders and associations of culinary professionals in place in France, some since the Middle Ages. This relatively long article is accompanied by full color pictures of the robes worn by members of these orders.
The range of subjects covered by the book is quite international, but there is a clear emphasis on French techniques, history, produce, and dishes. The coverage of wine and cheese around the world is extensive, as these products are so important to French gastronomy. Some subjects that are very important to Asian cuisines get relatively little attention. Soy gets a half page article, and miso gets no more than a paragraph. Lemons get a page and a half, yet lemongrass has no article at all. On the other hand, techniques for butchering a chicken get two full pages.
I do not often refer to the Larousse Gastronomique for recipes, but it is always my reference of last resort when all other sources fail. The only culinary question on which it is mute is on substitutions. A replacement for buttermilk can be found in any number of lesser references, yet the Gastronomique simply does not cover this.
The Larousse Gastronomique is simply the essential reference to French technique, ingredients, culinary history, and geography. Get this before you get your Julia Child and your Jaques Pepin and your Patricia Wells. I seriously doubt if the latest editions have any significant improvements over used editions of thirty or even fifty years ago. Just be sure to get one in good condition. You will refer to it often.
Essential.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broader but not deeper, October 21, 2001
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This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
I kept 3 editions of this important title. No doubt on its authoritativeness. This new 2001 edition caught my immediate attention when I first saw it. I browsed thru it nearly from cover to cover. There are some newer entries not listed before (the 1984 ed), e.g., tiramisu. However, information on other cuisines is brief, e.g., only 2 pages on Spanish cuisine. For a serious cook like me who own 100+ cookbooks, this title is not essential. But, if you haven't yet owned previous editions, this is not a bad idea.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More bulk, less beauty than the 1988 edition, December 26, 2001
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This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
I've owned the 1988 edition of this masterpiece for several years. As a combination go-to resource, inspiration, and backgrounder on all things culinary, it is unsurpassed. The typeface, layout, and abundance of perfectly placed color photographs and illustrations make it a warm volume, despite its weight.
However, I recently purchased this new edition as a gift. The recipient is happy, but I'm a bit disapointed. Though the new scheme makes distinguishing recipies a snap (red titles), the typeface is steril and the number and interest of photographs has declined substantially, largely consisting of full-page stock photo stuff.
Nevertheless, a great book, but one that has lost some of its beauty. I'm happy to own the 1988 edition!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have, January 19, 2002
By 
Daryle R Lamoureux (Rollinsford, NH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
Larousse Gastronomique is a must have for any serious cook or for anyone who would just like to know more about the food that they eat. Whether the reader is looking for information about something exotic or commonplace, it's all there. Larousse Gastronomique will provide the reader with a better understanding of the ingredients, techniques, "hows" and "whys" involved in every recipe. I highly recommend reading it from cover to cover. It will serve as an invaluable reference for any cook for many years to come.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it more stars if I could, August 6, 2004
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
This book is an absolute "must" for anyone who is interested in culinary arts, food and wine related topics.
I love cooking and have an extensive collection of cookery books, but this is a reference book "par excellence" and is fascinating. I read a little at a time and allow time for each subject to sink in and often have to cross reference. I still have many topics to go, it will probably take me all year to complete this book.
Often I have used this book as a dictionary to find out about a type of food and it has been the topic of many a conversation with friends.
This book is not a recipe book nor for the faint hearted and a sound knowledge of the French language is a definate advantage since so many culinary terms are in French and not translated (and often not even translatable), this book assumes that you already have the basic cullinary language before you start.
This is not a book that I would take a chance on buying as a gift for anyone unless they had specified an interest.
A wonderful book!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but not what I'd hoped., November 30, 2006
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This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
This book is not what I thought it would be after reading the reviews here, and, had I looked at in a store, I probably wouldn't have bought it. Unfortunately, my local bookstore didn't have it, so I bought it blind.

This book is not, despite what the first review on this site claims, a book for those who are learning how to cook. This is a book for those who are interested in expanding their culinary knowledge. It is, no doubt, a stellar reference in that regard. If you like just learning about different kinds of food and regions, this book will provide you endless amounts of reading time. It is, without a doubt, an "interesting" book on my shelf, and I turn to it if I'm looking for ideas for a particular ingredient I'm not familiar with. Then, once I have an idea of what I can do with it, I turn to my other cookbooks and the internet for detailed recipes.

All that said, if you are trying to develop some basic cooking skills, this is not the book to shell out $$$ for. There are far better books and online resources to help with that.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the 1988 edition, November 15, 2006
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This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
After comparing this newest edition to my 1988 edition I sent it back. I think attention to detailed information and instruction has been compromised in order to encompass too much in general and to make it look more like a coffee table book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive and user-friendly, December 19, 2002
By 
S. Gardner (Lincoln, Nebraska, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Larousse Gastronomique (Hardcover)
Did you ever sit with a dictionary and just randomly thumb through the entries? That technique is perfect for making your way through Larousse. It's a spectular compendium of European food and gastronomy, from absinthe to zabaglione. The "completely revised and updated" edition also includes an impressive amount of information on African, Asian and New World culinary topics. Ingredients, techniques, specific dishes, biographical sketches and geographical regions are all covered here. There are a few well-placed color photographs and illustrations throughout the book that enhance it beautifully, as well.
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Larousse Gastronomique
Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagne (Hardcover - October 2, 2001)
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