Top critical review
61 people found this helpful
How to whip cream? 🌀 and obligatory reviews
on January 4, 2015
Like another reviewer, I bought this book because I enjoyed David's "Sweet Life" so much. However, I have read this book from cover to cover, and find it to be a disappointment.
Some of the content seems like "filler" to me, like the "Equipment" section, especially when he mentions that you probably already have most of what he suggests having in your kitchen. Folks buying cookbooks like this already know what sort and how many skillets, knives, pots, pans and other kitchen tools they need. This is pretty much needless information for the average home cook, and even more so to those who've ventured into French cuisine, but it uses up six pages of the book.
The other part I consider filler is the "pantry" section. It's also weird. He describes the section as "an assortment of things which are part of my pantry and I like to keep on hand in the refrigerator or freezer," and it includes hard-cooked eggs, poached eggs and whipped cream. Poached eggs and whipped cream are not pantry items - they can be made ahead and held briefly, but they're not kept "on hand" in the refrigerator. Both eggs and cream appear in his "ingredient" section, but once the eggs are cooked and the cream is whipped, they re-appear in the "pantry" section where boiling and whipping is explained in detail. And why is vinaigrette listed as a pantry item when he says that, like the French, he never makes it in quantities to keep on hand? Same thing for homemade mayonnaise that keeps for only a 2-3 days in the fridge. Store-bought mayonnaise can be kept "on hand" in the fridge, but homemade mayonnaise is not a pantry item. It's contradictory, and all the how-to stuff might be useful information for a novice cook, but I wasn't expecting this book to be a basic cooking primer like "The Joy of Cooking." This strange section uses up 13 pages of the book, with an entire page devoted to a recipe (yes, a recipe) and instructions for making whipped cream, and another page on how to boil eggs.
I purchased this book as a gift for my daughter who, like me, adores French food and is experienced at cooking it. And while I understand that globalization has influenced modern French cuisine, not all the recipes in this book are a reflection of that. Many of the recipes are NOT what modern Parisians eat - the author says so himself - "Parisians haven't developed a taste for smoky food" - but because he likes smoky food he includes a recipe for smoky pulled pork. What?
When I discovered that "My Paris Kitchen" included recipes for dukkah, tabbouleh, naan, humus, beet hummus, fattoush, shakshuka, baba ganoush, Israeli couscous and smoky barbecue-style pork, I decided it wasn't French enough for the gift it was intended to be. Don't get me wrong, I've made several of the recipes, and they were all good, and his stories are delightful, but the recipe collection is not what I'd expect from this book's title, nor from one selling on Amazon as a French cookbook. So I've found a spot for it on my bookshelf where I can refer to it whenever I'm looking for a Middle Eastern/North African recipe, or Texas ribs, or California-style French crepes (?), or Italian crostini.
🌀 It's worth noting that many of the favorable reviews here are from folks who were given a free copy of this book by the publisher or by a book blog "in exchange for a review." You might think nothing of this scheme, but to me they're shill reviews, and an illusory way to skew the star rating. Search among the customer reviews for the word "review" and you can see all these compulsory reviews for yourself - notice they are missing the "verified purchase" indication, and the lion's share are rated 4 or 5 stars. The current "most helpful" review of this cookbook was submitted by a person who seems to be a hired book reviewer. Follow the link to see all his reviews, and you'll see that he only reviews books - nothing else - all provided to him for free in exchange for a review, and none below a 4-star rating. In fairness to this book/author, this is done a lot on Amazon, but it's still not right. Some of these type reviews might be honest, but one thing for sure - they're all obligatory.