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Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics Hardcover – September 23, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Glorious French Food, James Peterson argues that once you understand a recipe's "logic and context," and the techniques required to follow it, you actually have something much more valuable than the recipe itself--you have the knowledge to create variations, make simplifications, and cook with spontaneity. Although French cuisine is often accused of being fussy and time-consuming, Peterson's clear instructions demystify many traditionally finicky recipes, and in the process, teach us how to cook anything.

The hundreds of recipes presented here are a pleasure to peruse; kitchen novices can work their way through this hefty volume and come out the other end accomplished cooks. Peterson details necessary equipment, techniques, and ingredients for each recipe so that by the time you start making it, you're fearless. Some of his dishes are remarkably simple, like the beautifully fresh, ready-in-minutes Shaved Fennel Salad, or the richly aromatic French Onion Soup. Others are more complicated, but all teach a lesson: In the Roast Chicken chapter, learn to roast without a thermometer, truss without a needle, make gravy, and then succeed at Roast Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin with Spinach and Ricotta. Learn to make pasta dough, and then re-present leftover Provençal Lamb Stew (if there's any of this heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth tender, orange-scented stew left) as Meat-Filled Ravioli. Perfect for fans of French cuisine, this is also a remarkably handy reference guide for any kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom

From Library Journal

Cooking teacher Peterson is the author of several other big cookbook/reference works, including Fish & Shellfish and Splendid Soups. The recipes in those books reflected influences from cuisines all over the world, but here Peterson, who worked in France and had his own French restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village, turns to his first culinary love. He has chosen 50 classic recipes as the starting point for his wide-ranging exploration of French food and techniques; each recipe serves both to demonstrate a variety of techniques and as the inspiration for a diverse collection of other recipes related to it in one way or another. Thus, the bouillabaisse chapter, for example, shows how to thicken a sauce with a beurre manie, intensify flavor with herbs, and work with eel and octopus; the spin-off recipes include French-style fish and shellfish chowder and pureed fish soup from Marseille, among others. One of Peterson's aims is to inspire his readers to use his recipes as a starting point for their own creations, so each chapter includes boxes and charts on improvising with different ingredients and flavors. The suggested variations for individual recipes, often mini-essays in themselves, open up dozens of other possibilities. Peterson is both passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, and his new book is an essential purchase. [Good Cook Book Club main selection.]
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 742 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (August 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471442763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471442769
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 2.1 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Peterson is thorough and talented and creative, and cut his culinary teeth (so to speak) in France. Thus, he has a wealth of info at hand to write this book.
Wealth of material to pass on well describes this monumental effort of over 700 pages. Techniques and equipment and sources are all nicely organized and explained here, as this is a trademark of Peterson's published efforts.
What I find exceptional to other French efforts is a pronunication guide which is thorough and delightful to use. No more fastly slurring when ordering now. This provides what we need to order Fletan Aux Moules.
Where does one start to comment on this massive undertaking of reviewing this, only to say that the recipe collection is extensive and flavorful and within the reach of serious home chefs. One certainly cannot comment on trying even a small majority of these quickly, however, the few tried on magnificent! E.g. Mediterranean Fish Soup (Bouillabaisse) for which he provides a history of the dish, the contentions over its meaning, etc. Plus he adds tips to achieve as close to the real thing dish in making the rouille, spice tricks and fillet advice. The result is superior Fish Stew!
Second dish tried was Saute of Beef or Lamb En Surprise. This amply demonstrates his concern to provide necessary substitute considerations (e.g. here for morels). This quickly prepared dish is exquisite, and demonstrates the depth of flavor and concentration on the red wine beef broth which serves as defining layer here.
I cannot wait to dive into other delights here. This is truly one to invest in and turn to often. Most of us home chefs will thrive on this most welcome and well-done offering.
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Format: Hardcover
`Glorious French Food' by leading culinary educator, James Peterson may be a true lost classic, in the cookbook world similar to `The Thirteenth Warrior' in the movies or the novels of Thomas Berger, including `Little Big Man'. I noticed a copy on the bargain stacks a few days ago and immediately felt regret for not having done a review of it to help, in some very small way to raise the reputation of this excellent culinary pedagogical text.

I have a very `love / hate' relationship with James Peterson's books. Peterson has a very well deserved reputation as the author of the classic reference, `Sauces', now in a second edition (rare for cookbooks) and his Jacques Pepin homage, `Essentials of Cooking' (for those of you who need your culinary show and tell in full color). He has also done several excellent texts on special subjects such as Vegetables, Salmon, Duck, and Soups. I have reviewed each and every one of these books favorably, yet my experience when doing specific Peterson recipes (except those in `Sauces') is mixed. I am not entirely surprised at this, as I sometimes find his individual recipe descriptions just a bit mixed up, as if his copy editor was taking a coffee break as they were editing that recipe.

Peterson may in this book offer a great explanation for this paradox. He says that his greatest ambition would be to write a cookbook with no recipes. This is not as easy as it sounds, since I reviewed Pam Anderson's book `How to Cook Without a Book' and I found it wanting in several regards. Peterson also says that his greatest compliment is when a reader says they made one of his recipes, but changed it a bit, and it came out very well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with previous reviewers on what this excellent book is and isn't (Not really for beginners, there is an implied expertise level of the reader, lots of research in writing the book, etc.) However, after using the book for 5 months now, I have a constructive complaint for the editors, who apparently lack the practical knowledge of using a cookbook. What rationale drove them to use such small and hard to read fonts? What drove them to actually use a pale blue ink for some text? (E.g., try reading the ingredient list on page 272 - miniscule font, in that pale blue ink.) Unless your kitchen is very brightly lit, and you have the eyes of an eagle, you will have great difficulty in reading the text. The entire book has a great deal of unused 'white space' that could have been better used by using a larger, darker contrasting font. If there is a second edition, I hope it is more legible (ditch the pale blue ink.)
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely love this cookbook. As a culinary student, I wish they had issued this book out instead of my $150 doller culinary workbook. This book is such a wealth of information. "Glorious French Food" is big, but Peterson's writing is so interesting and entertaining that I've taken it to the beach with me many times. I've always felt dishes are tastier when one learns the history behind the creations. As for the recipes, they are excellent. I test them on my boyfriend, who by chance is French and a culinary graduate. He feels the recipes are very accurate and will sometimes admit that some of them are better then his family's dishes. I highly recommond this book, for both fun and serious cooks out there. It's a great gift to give.
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