- Hardcover: 446 pages
- Publisher: Ten Speed Press; F 1st Printing edition (May 3, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580083854
- ISBN-13: 978-1580083850
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The French Menu Cookbook Hardcover – May 3, 2002
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"Here's a blessing . . . and it's not in disguise."
—Newark Star Ledger
"The writer to whom Olney immediately demands comparison is Elizabeth David. The prose of each is characterized by an aesthetic sensibility enmeshed in the stabilizing regimen of a strictly imposed self-discipline."
—John Thorne, author of Pot on the Fire
"Richard Olney is someone who truly lives what he believes-cooking simply from the garden and drinking wonderful wines from the cellar. His FRENCH MENU COOKBOOK is an inspiration, giving a lasting insight into a special way of life."
About the Author
RICHARD OLNEY was born and raised in Iowa, one of eight children in a quintessential American family. After relocating to a Parisian suburb in 1951 and then buying a run-down property in Provence, Olney settled in France permanently. The author of eight books, Olney passed away at his Proven?É¬Åal home in the summer of 1999.
Top customer reviews
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It was into this lunar food landscape that Richard Olney introduced several revolutionary ideas at once in The French Menu Cookbook. I should say that he RE-introduced these ideas, because they had existed, with varying degrees of sophistication, for as long as people had eaten, but an industrial food system had interrupted that great cultural memory. This book's structure is its message: the food is introduced not by category, but by course within menus, and the menus themselves are organized by season. For those of us who have heard the gospel of seasonality and regional availability and freshness from Alice Waters and Paul Bertolli, at al, it can be easy to forget that this idea is still, 36 years after The French Menu Cookbook, radical, and so against the grain of the industrial food complex as to be almost an act of treason. But Richard Olney's way with food started that revolution at possibly the most inoportune moment in Americna history.
A sample menu says it all:
An Informal Spring Dinner
Hors d'oeuvre of Crudites
Coq au Vin
Wild Green Salad
Flamri with Raspberry Sauce
all of the above matched with appropriate wines.
Notice the careful development through the courses, the constant shifts of flavor to keep the palate alive, the seasonal ingredients... All of this was deeply shocking at the time.
But there's one more big surprise: this book is every bit as good today as it was in 1970. It doesn't feel even remotely dated, like Julia Child's books do. Maybe, in hueing so faithfully to the principles of freshness, seasonality, and regional availability, Olney tapped into something timeless. And so this book was a classic the day it was published, and remains one of the most sophisticated, satisfying, and inspiring cookbooks ever published.
Very highly recommended.
Alice waters used this book in her early years and olney said she really got it.
The combo is a beautiful story of American chefs taking on French cooking and creating the American dishes
That have been the basis of cooking in America including all the improvisation that has lead to today's
Great chefs and restaurants and cooking schools.
Headline - how America learned to cook - requires both books - puts you on the track for more great reading
Filets de Sardines Crues en Marinade
Grillade de Boeuf, Marchand de Vin
Gratin de Pommes de Terre
Salade des Champs
Tarte aux Pommes
And of course there are the formal menus, with foie gras, truffles, lobster, pheasant and sauteed cepes.
All along the way, there is Olney's elegant prose. The essay on wine that spans perhaps thirty pages is the most readable, comprehensive and succinct review of basic principles of wine making and service, and of the key French varietals and appellations, I believe I have ever seen. A lot of knowledge and instinct is distilled in these few pages.
This book, which preceded "Simple French Food" by a few years, is more the traditional "cookbook" with reasonably detailed recipes, unlike the Olney masterwork "Simple" that followed it. I still think "Simple French Food" is his crowning achievement, because as my review of "Simple" indicates, it is a book of general principles and a guide to improvisation, not a "recipe book" at all. If you spend a lot of time with "Simple," you will learn to make your own recipes and compose your own menus because it encourages you to riff in the kitchen, to work on your own chops.
But with "Menu," you have a very detailed roadmap -- start to finish menus, recipes and pitch-perfect wine suggestions for each course. It's all good. But to me, by distilling it all down to first principles in "Simple French Food," Olney really climbed the mountain. Perhaps my preference for "Simple" is just because it was the book I came to first -- I bought "Simple" in 1977, used it over and over and over again, and bought my first (and still my only) copy of "Menu" when the revised hardcover edition from David R. Godine came out in 1985.
Whichever of the two books you may regard more highly, both of them belong on every serious food and wine lover's bookshelf.