La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking

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Ten Speed Press

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First published in 1927 to educate French housewives in the art of classical cooking, LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE has since become the bible of French cooking technique, found on every kitchen shelf in France. A housewife and a professional chef, Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange wrote in a rigorous yet highly instructive and engaging style, explaining in extraordinary detail the proper way to skim a sauce, stuff a chicken, and construct a pâté en croûte.Though her text has never before been translated into English,Madame Saint-Ange's legacy has lived on through the cooking of internationally renowned chefs like Julia Child and Madeleine Kamman, setting the standard for practical home cooking as well as haute cuisine. In this momentous translation by Chez Panisse cofounder and original chef de cuisine Paul Aratow, Madame Saint-Ange's culinary wisdom is available in English for the first time.Enveloped in charming intricacies of even the most fundamental cooking techniques are 1,300 authentic French recipes for such classics as Braised Beef, Quiche Lorraine, Cassoulet, and Apricot Soufflé; original illustrations of prepping and cooking techniques; and seasonal menus for every meal of the day. An indispensable culinary encyclopedia and an absorbing historical document, LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE is the definitive word on French cooking for food lovers, dedicated cooks, culinary professionals, and Francophiles alike.Reviews:“[A] book that I adore and that was my mentor in my early days in France. . . . It was a carefully thought-out, very personal book, and one had complete confidence in what she had to say. . . . I still love it.”—Julia Child (Simple Cooking, “Reminisces,” 1989) “It would be difficult to overestimate the service rendered to monolingual English and American cooks by the translation of this massive, instructive, and, in its way, very funny book.”—Gourmet “This warhorse of French cookery . . . is a proudly hidebound volume on the (Thoroughly French) Right Way to Cook. . . . The book reads like The Joy of Cooking for the dominatrix set. Still, it's hard not to love a writer with such dramatic flair.”—Bon Appetit “If you want to add one new definitive cookbook to your larder, we suggest the English edition of LA BONNE CUISINE. . . . This is the tome that got Julia Child cooking as a postwar bride in Paris.”—Los Angeles Magazine “[T]his magisterial translation offers a window into a bygone moment in French life and is a testament to the enduring joy of cooking with cookbooks.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review “The gift for the serious cookbook lover who has everything. . . . [T]he go-to manual of the French home kitchen.”—San Francisco Chronicle “[A] tidy how-to treatise on traditional (and ambitious) home cooking by a working mother in Paris in the first half of the 20th century.”—New York Times Magazine “[A] fascinating work, at once an encyclopedia of the basic techniques o cooking and a snapshot of French cuisine as it existed in the early 20th century.”—Los Angeles Times “[A]n important book for both food lovers and cooks, with fine explanations of exactly how to prepare the classic French dishes we Americans already love (and a few not yet discovered).”—Traditional Home “A lasting feast for your foodie friends.”—Budget Living “One of the most detailed, interesting, well-written, and technically proficient books for the French home cook. . . . I learned one hundred times more from it than I did from Escoffier and other great chefs.”—Madeleine Kamman“Julia Child . . . had been much influenced by Mme. Saint-Ange, who in the 1920s wrote step-by-step instructions that guided French women through the intricacies, and also the simplicities, of cuisine bourgeoise.”—Corby Kummer, The Atlantic “Finally, this great book has been translated. My French edition has lost its cover from thirty years of almost constant use. LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE is filled with good sense, logic, and boundless information about the world's best home cooking, and it is deeply grounded in the traditions and techniques that define a great cuisine. It's not just a book of recipes, but helps us master a subtle and immensely satisfying art.”—James Peterson, author of Sauces“LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE is the first French blockbuster written by a woman cook, and it remains my favorite. Saint-Ange has a turn of phrase and a depth of culinary knowledge that have rarely been equaled. At first glance her book appears inordinately long, but she carries us without faltering. Some recipes may take a couple pages of dense print to explain, but at the end you know you will emerge triumphant, with perfection on the plate.”—Anne Willan, founder of École de Cuisine La Varenne“Among its many treasures, this marvelous book offers as clear a picture as we can ever hope to get of the workings of the French home kitchen at a time when the meals that came from it were justly the pride of France. The supernaturally knowledgeable Madame Saint- Ange was to her country what Fannie Farmer was to America, but she had the better tools and the better cuisine to work with, and she possessed a forthright Gallic charm entirely her own. For decades, the absence of this book in English translation has been a culinary embarrassment. Paul Aratow has now decisively changed all that, for which he has my endless thanks.”—John Thorne, author of Simple Cooking and Pot on the Fire“With his masterful translation of LA BONNE CUISINE DE MADAME E. SAINT-ANGE, Paul Aratow has done a great service to lovers of food, food lorists, and curious cooks everywhere. It's a Joy of Cooking and a Mastering the Art of French Cooking stitched together with dishes from the French family home—all wrapped into one comprehensive volume that will entice and intrigue anyone interested in one of the major foundations of our new American cooking.”—Victoria Wise, former chef of Chez Panisse“The classic cooking of Madame Saint-Ange—so fresh and so French—lives on as testament to a true passion for bonne cuisine and a wonderful lesson in echnique.”—Daniel Boulud, chef of Daniel“This book will fascinate students of French gastronomy and those with a particular interest in the mores of middle-class French households in the early part of the twentieth century. As a window into French cookery, it is an extraordinary work.When read alongside Escoffier, whilst the scope is very similar, Madame Saint-Ange includes far more explanatory information, and although the tone is formal, it is also meticulous and often illuminating.”—Stephanie Alexander, author of The Cook's Companion“Styles of cuisine may change, but the fundamentals are forever. There is more commonsense basic cooking instruction in this book than in most libraries.”—Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times food columnist and author of How to Read a French Fry


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La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking
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Every year there are probably hundreds of cookbooks, on French cooking, published around the world.  Some are good, some are not so good, and some even achieve greatness, but in many ways they are all, for the most part, very similar.  Most of these books tend to focus on reproducing restaurant food or focus on what has become to be considered the classics of French cuisine.  But every once in awhile a cookbook comes along that breaks out of the mold and offers a deeper insight into the foods eaten every day by the common person.  “La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange†(hereafter referred to as “La Bonneâ€) is just such a book.  In this case, “La Bonne†did not “just come alongâ€, it has been in print, in France, since 1927, but has just recently been translated into English for the first time.

If you are like me you might find the book doesn't read very smoothly.  I chalk it up to both the translation and to the fact that the original text and recipes are almost 80 years old.  Luckily this problem didn't really interfere with my enjoyment of the book.  One reason I really enjoyed this book was the fact that it gives a glimpse into the past.  There is a wonderful section on the proper way to build a fire in your coal burning oven, and many of the techniques used are somewhat outdated today due to the appliances we have available to us.

The heart and soul of this mammoth volume (786 pages) though is its recipes.  “La Bonne†covers subjects from egg cookery and sauce making, to preserves, beverages, pastries and everything in between.  In fact you can learn more about how to cook soft boiled eggs and omelet than you would ever want to know.  Madame E. Saint-Ange is meticulous in her directions, some recipes taking up a couple of pages with her description of the techniques needed.  This is not to say that this is a beginner's cookbook.  Quite the opposite.  I found that many of the recipes in this book were rather difficult and time consuming.  Madame wrote this book for the housewife of 1920's France, and though she is thorough in her recipes she also expected her audience to have some knowledge about the workings of a kitchen.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, but it is not a cookbook for everyone.  It is a book geared more towards an experienced cook who longs to learn the common cuisine of the common Frenchmen of a time long forgotten.  Many of the recipes are overly long and would shock our modern “nutritional senses.† There is a lot of confusing terms in the book the difference between a jus and bouillon for example, and many of the techniques can be simplified today due to modern technology.  But don't let that deter you.  There are many wonderful recipes in this book, and, more importantly, it gives you a glimpse into the cooking styles of days long gone.


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