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The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery: For Connoisseurs, Chefs, Epicures Complete With 2973 Recipes Hardcover – November 13, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

From the Inside Flap

An American translation of the definitive Guide Culinaire, the Escoffier Cookbook includes weights, measurements, quantities, and terms according to American usage. Features 2,973 recipes.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 923 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishers, Inc. (June 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517506629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517506622
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I'm a Chef, and have borrowed copies of Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire from friends whenever I need it. On a lark, I ran a search on Escoffier here at Amazon.com. I was stunned to find this book for the low cost of $12 or so, knowing that every other copy I had seen cost $60 or $70. So I ordered it and paged through it. Well, it only prints 2300 or so of over 5000 recipes in Escoffier's treatise. Admittedly, probably more than the home cook actually *needs*, but nowhere does the book say that it has been abridged.
But, like many Amazon.com customers, I found myself in the position of thinking "but it'll cost me half the price of the book to send it back." So I wound up giving it to a friend who likes to cook, but doesn't need the "real thing."
Suffice it to say that if you want the real Esoffier, you're still going to have to drop the $60+ for the Van Nostrand Reinhold edition. Sorry, culinary students, you didn't luck up on a deal.
ToqueBlanc
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"The Escoffier Cookbook" is a heavily abridged American version of Auguste Escoffier's 1903 book "Guide Culinaire". It is a fascinating look at the art of professional European cookery at the beginning of the 20th century.

However, to appreciate this book fully, it's important to understand exactly who it was written for. Escoffier's original guide was never for a second intended for the home cook. Escoffier was a pioneer with respect to the education of professional chefs, and originally wrote this book for the use of those working in grand houses, in hotels, on ocean liners, and in restaurants who might not have had access to contemporary recipes. Accordingly, the original book does not attempt to teach basic cooking or food preparation techniques. The American translation does include some details on cooking techniques and utensils unfamiliar to the average American chef (such as poeleing, worth the cost of the book alone, and the old French form of braising), but even in the translation it is assumed that the reader is a trained, experienced chef.

The recipes themselves are clear and simple to follow, but represent only a small subset of French cooking of the early 20th century. An earlier reviewer mentioned that there was no recipe for onion soup; this is true, but it should be understood that onion soup would never have been accepted by the class of restaurant patron Escoffier cooked for. Much of what has arrived on this side of the Atlantic as "French cooking" - dishes such as pot-au-feu, onion soup, and steak frites - is distinctly middle-class, and consequently would have been rejected by the clientele of quality restaurants of the time as being unspeakably boorish.
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`The Escoffier Cookbook' is an English translation of the `Guide Culinaire' by the renowned French chef, Auguste Escoffier, the most important figure in modern professional French culinary practice. One may argue that Antonin Careme is more important simply because Careme influenced Escoffier and write many books on culinary technique, but I suspect every culinary professional reads Escoffier today and few outside academic circles read Careme's original works.

One of the most reliable symptoms of Escoffier's importance can be found in the first essay of Michael Ruhlman's `The Soul of a Chef' dealing with the Certified Master Chef examination given at the Culinary Institute of America. Whenever the candidates were presented with a problem in an unfamiliar area and had the night to consider the problem, they consulted Escoffier for their preparation. This is because most of the situations in the problems came straight from the practice defined by Escoffier a 100 years ago.

For these and many more reasons, this book is THE standard by which all French culinary issues should be judged. Therefore, my review is less on why this is a good book and more on why you should pay attention to it if you are serious about cooking.

For starters, this 920 page book with 2,973 recipes lists for about $20. Admittedly, the text describing many of those recipes is pretty terse, being based on techniques from one or more earlier recipes. Therefore, you must be committed to really getting involved with this book and mining it for its riches rather than expecting to make a quick search for a particular recipe you can copy or scan at the library on the way home.
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This book, published in the 1890s, is an excellent resource for those who aspire to cook great french food. Too often cookbook authors insult readers by leaving out key steps for fear that they may be 'too complicated' or call for veal stock when chefs use demi-glace. This book is complicated, poorly organized and difficult, but it WILL tell you the proper way to make french sauces (an incredible section, and well worth the price of the book in itself) and how best to lard a joint of beef. Treat yourself and buy this book to learn the proper way to prepare traditional french cuisine.
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