Top critical review
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Good compilation of recipies, but poor quality of each recipe..
on March 11, 2006
First of all I have to say that I am spanish and I am not writing in my mother tongue. So I have to apologise in advance for my poor English skills.
When I read a review I like to know who write it in order to guess what he expected to find in the book and what sort of judgment he is going to give us.
I am an Spanish Food Engineer. I am not a professional chef but, I dare say, I am an advanced amateur cook.
I read the cookbooks form cover to cover at least twice. I underlain it and even it compare the recipies with other books.
I dont want a compilation of recipies that I left in my shelves for checking a recipe from time to time.
What I expected to find in this book was:
1-A classification of soups.
2-A correct description of the techniques for cooking the soups.
3-A collection of really splendid soups. I dont mind how many recipies the book has, but I mind the quality of each recipe.
I want a perfect recipe for each soup. Whether I like or not the soup, once I have cooked it, it depends on my personal taste.
So with this in mind, here is my review.
1-The book is organized by ingredientes (meat soups, fish soups, vegetable soups..). It makes easier to find a recipe if you have some ingredientes in the refrigerator and you wants to know what to do with them. But it should be arranged by technique as the book "Professional Chef" (CIA) does (consommes, hearty broths, cream soups, puree soups and bisques).You cant remember all the recipies but you can remember the techniques. This is the most didactic way of organize the book if you want to read it from cover to cover.
2-The general description of the techniques are omitted. The author goes straight to the description of the preparation of each recipe. What it is good if you want a compilation of recipies, but it isnt very useful if you really want to learn how to cook soups at your will.
By the other hand, the description of the preparation of the recipies are detailed and correct. Neither it is "over-detailed" nor ambiguous.
3-At first sight, the number of recipies seems to be huge. But once you have read some chapters you will realise that some recipies are almost the same. Organizing the book by ingredients its easy to repeat recipes because you only need to change an ingredient.For example, "Miso Soup" and "Miso soup with egg plant", the first one appears in the chapter of broths and the second one appears in the chapter of vegetables. But both are the same .Another example "Puree of Artichoke", "Puree of Asparagus", "Puree of Cauliflower"...etc.
The number of recipies has been falsely increased
4-I cant say the recipies doesnt works, but I cant say the recipies are excellent.In some cases I am sure the recipe is wrong. As I said I am spanish, and I cant assure that Gazpacho doesnt contain neither chicken broth nor lime. I understand the author wants to transform/interpret some exotic/ethnic soups. But the changes should not become the dish into another thing. Another example is the Bisque. He uses vegetable puree to thick the soup. By definition a Bisque is a soup that only contains crustaceans and the vegetables are only use for give a subtle taste and it should not distort the crustacean taste.
I wouldnt say that from the 400 soups all of them are "splendid". On the contrary, only few ones are good (but not excellent). He should be more concentrated on the quality rather than in the quantity.
5-There are few photographs (8 pages). The "soups" showed by these photos has got so many solids and so few liquid that you would need a fork and a knife for eating it. So it isnt soups, because you dont use a spoon for eating it.
6-The style of writing is a bit arrogant. I agree with other review. He uses a lot the word "I". I think he is too worry about demostrating that he has cooked each soup, because he repeat many times "Each time I cook it..." "I like to eat it.." "I cant image a summer without it.." and so on.
I dont think he has cooked all the recipies, or at least, I dont think he cook the soups with frequency he try to show.
The book contains 400 recipies, really do you think that he eats so often all them during the 365 days of the year?.
On the other hand, he is too precise with very tiny details (add the parsley just 1 minute before serving, for example) but he is too loose with other matters.
Does he pretend to be exquisite? an epicurean?
7-This book has got some good points. The chapter of ethnic soups is excellent. He describes some ethnic and exotic ingredients and also incorporate soups from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, China, India Morocco, Mexico etc...
After reading the book you will be able to prepare a soup freely just watching what you have got in the refrigerator.
All in all, I doesnt believe its a masterpiece as other reviewers does. The recipies arent totaly perfect and if you are purist the book will disappoint you.
But if you arent a purist, if you doesnt look for the perfect soup, and if you only want to find a recipe and cook it from time to time, this is your book.