The recipes in Larousse Gastronomique

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by leswhaley, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. leswhaley

    leswhaley

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    I am thinking about buying Larousse Gastronomique and I would like to know if anyone has an opinion about the recipes in this book? How do they tend to come out compared to recipes from other well-known cookbooks? Better? Worse? 

    Thanks.
     
  2. leswhaley

    leswhaley

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    Well, maybe that was a dumb question. I've looked through the book and it seems like a sacred text and that the recipes in it might be the standards by which all others should be judged. Yet, I don't know and don't want to spend that much money if all it really is is an encyclopedia. Anyone who has made anything out of it, please post your opinion. Thanks.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    I have a 1 year old Larousse Gastronomique, the French edition. I'm assuming the English edition is a translation of the French one, nothing less nothing more? 

    I like the recipes a lot, for what they are. First of all, many, many of them are by more-or-less famous French chefs. That makes it pretty exciting to cook them. Usually if you look up a dish or an ingredient, you'll get a few recipes that give you a few ideas of what can be done. If you look up something pretty vast like "tart", you may find about 20 to 30 different recipe, from the different tart doughs to savory tarts to dessert tarts etc...

    Now the book is a French book, and it is definitely oriented toward French cooking. I would almost say that if you're really into French cooking, you should get the book, if you're not specially into French cooking, you should pass.

    Also the recipe are more or less detailed. While some of them have precise measurements etc... some of them will look something like: 

    Stuffed Onions:
    Peel the onions, keep the two outer layers and empty the inside, chop it and sweat it, add the meat (pork, veal, lamb or beef). Butter a roasting pan, place the empty onions and fill them with the stuffing. Cook in the oven. Frequently baste with the juices during the cooking.

    So no quantities, no oven temp, no cooking time etc... IMO that's totally fine, as they are just ideas to get going. And most of the ideas are way more involved than the example I just gave you.

    But yeah, at least the French edition I have is centered around French cooking, French ingredients, French chefs etc... - while there'll be some info about all sorts of other countries and their specialties, and even recipes, that's probably not the best source for those other countries.

    Hope that helped a bit. If you have a specific entry in mind let me know and I'll give you an idea of what the recipes for that entry are.

    Also if someone could confirm whether or not the English version is only a translation of the French version? 
     
  4. leswhaley

    leswhaley

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    I have the English version. I checked it out of the local library to review it. I'm more into Italian cooking than French, so I may end up passing on it. Your reply was very helpful, thank you.
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    You're welcome! Yes if you're into Italian cooking you may want to find something else. Especially for the recipes. Good luck to you - and if you find a good Italian encyclopedia-like book, let us know!
     
  6. gerdosh

    gerdosh

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    I have an old version with a 1960 copyright and I occasionally use it as reference. The recipes are almost unusable (for me); they are dated, the book has many holes in culinary sciences that the French classic cuisine considers not worth mentioning (e.g. Asian cuisine). This book was a gift and that's the only reason I have it.
     
  7. leswhaley

    leswhaley

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    Wow, this feedback has been a help. I'm so grateful I found this site.

    I have had a chance to look through the book some more and I agree that it would probably be useful primarily as a reference book. I wonder, however, if it would be fair to fault it for having a few holes in that it is not inclusive of all cuisines? Would such a book even be possible to write, and, good Lord, how much would it weigh? I can't hardly lift this thing as it is!
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Hiya Leswhaley, I bought the most recent edition of Larousse due to it being practically the 'Holy Grail' of cookbooks, and here in Malaysia, books are really expensive. It cost me a whopping RM400+, roughly about USD100+. Anyways, a chef lecturer of mine mentioned to me that I should have gotten the previous edition as the recent one had a lot of discrepancies compared to the previous editions. Note, try looking for "carbonara" - it doesn't exist. He, himself, has an old edition (90's) and he says that's more reliable.

    I personally discovered things like discrepancies in the recipes for bisque. My lecturers and a few others had a whole debate going on about the validity of the (recent) Larousse.

    I would suggest you try getting it 2ndhand (and slightly older edition) just so you don't have to spend so much on it. Just my 2 cents.

    :)

    Cheers
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Larousse  is not for the novice. It assumes you know all the techniques of Haute cuisine. If you want fancy pictures it's nice. I personally would reccommend  Guide Culinaire  by A Esscofier. To me this was the true guide,  and  at least he explains terms and gives approx amounts. And it is cheaper
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Couple of thoughts:

    LaRousse is not a recipe book.  LaRousse is an encyclopedia about food.  The recipes in it are mostly illustrations of how techniques and food are used, rather than formulas meant to be followed.  If you can't already cook it, LaRousse won't change that.  If you want a compendium of recipes, LaRousse is a waste of money.

    With all due respect to Ed, Escoffier's Guide Culinaire (also published under other titles) is of far more historical than contemporary interest.  Even Pellaprat and Mme E. Ste Ainge, writing a generation or two after Escoffier, and far better for people who want to cook classic, French food, are too dated to be really useful as frequent-use cookbooks.  They are fun, and you can learn a lot of technique from them even if you won't pick up a lot of recipes you'll want to cook a couple of times a month -- unless you're really into retro. 

    Even Julia Child is something more of a window in the past than an instructional guide for contemporary gourmands.  But Mastering is still incredibly useful as a source of technique -- since she, more than just about anyone else, takes the time to explain in some detail. 

    Elizabeth David is another "cookbook" writer who was capable of writing in only the vaguest of detail and still make it sound great.

    FWIW, Pellaprat and David were the two most influential cookbook writers on my own cooking.  He taught me to take my time, pay attention to detail, and never stop pushing to make it better.  She taught me to take and give delight where delight may be taken and given.

    When it comes to writers like the folks who put LaRousse together and Elizabeth David:  If you can't already cook and vamp from skimpy instructions you're at something of a handicap if all you want to do is follow a recipe.  On the other hand, like the currently popular chef biographies and food anthropology books, their books are interesting in their own right and will make you a more creative cook.

    Anything exercising the palate of your imagination is a good thing. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  11. justpj

    justpj

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    I bought my 1960's version on ebay for about 1/3 the cost of a new one..so you might want to keep an eye on there for a deal.
     
  12. iplaywithfire

    iplaywithfire

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    I have always thought of recipes as guidelines made to convey intent of the item or dish and its preparation.  Some recipes are very vague, some recipes are very specific, and some are vague overall, yet specific on particular points (EG. with respect to local ingredients, or parts of preparation deemed very important by the author).   Everyone has their preferences, and some seem to find more vague recipes somehow lacking.  I happen to enjoy all, so long as the intent is clear.  Perhaps it's simply that I like the challenge and/or opportunity for interpretation, but I get as much out of recipes which use obscure terminology and hard-to-find ingredients.  Sometimes I glean more from them, possibly with a little research and experimentation on my part.  Gastronomique refers to itself as an encyclopedia.  It is as much as anything else, as BDL said, about techniques and terminology, and requires some experience in order to make best use of the recipes it offers.  However, there are a LOT of recipes in it which I use often, even if only as a primer to help get an idea organized in my head.  I find the majority of the information it offers to be practical, with little nonsense and a strong foundation.  Sometimes I need the extra grounding if my head starts straying off on a tangent, and it has certainly fulfilled that need for me.  I love the book.
     
  13. kluchte

    kluchte

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    The Silver Spoon New Edition [Hardcover]

    The Silver Spoon, the most influential and bestselling Italian cookbook of the last 50 years, is now available  in a new updated and revised edition. This bible of authentic Italian home cooking features over 2,000 revised recipes and is illustrated with 400 brand new, full-color photographs. A comprehensive and lively book, its uniquely stylish and user-friendly format makes it accessible and a pleasure to read. The new updated edition features new introductory material covering such topics as how to compose a traditional Italian meal, typical food traditions of the different regions, and how to set an Italian style. It also contains a new section of menus by celebrity chefs cooking traditional Italian food including Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Tony Mantuano, and Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone.

     I have an older addition, and its wonderful..

    You can find them at anybook store or they can order you one.

    Also compare $, by looking on Amazon, Noble, or something like that.

    I know that Amazon sells it for about $25.00..

    Hope this helps you out..

    Happy Cooking ;-)

     

     
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    oh.
     
  15. chefross

    chefross

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    I realize that this is 2 years old but the words still ring true.

    I have to chuckle when people still insist that Child and Pepin (notwithstanding) are the last words on cooking, and follow their recipes blindly.

    Since these Chefs have had their fame, there have been so many more Chefs today, that excel far and above what some of the others have done, but

    our "Culinary founding fathers" still set the bar for others to build on, and that can never be taken away.
     
  16. ordo

    ordo

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  17. chris steggles

    chris steggles

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    Larousse is hands down the ultimate reference book for french technique,period.
     
  18. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    My 2 cents. Larousse is a good reference book for french cooking. I wouldn't exactly call it the ipso facto go to book for french cooking, though. Not much technique, IIRC, and the recipe's are not thorough in their descriptions in some cases. 
     
  19. alan mackay

    alan mackay

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    I have 2 copies of the Larousse one 30 years old the other 2 years I moved to France 2 years ago and now work in a French hotel and find both editions invaluable for reference and recipes and technic. Although my boss is not interested in roasted camel hump or crocodile steaks of which there are recipes for both in the old edition. If you are interested in the history of food it is well worth a read. Also the region I live in the midi Pyrenees are a bit stuck in th past when it comes to food and are not up for change so again the book helps
     
  20. mhpr262

    mhpr262

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    Yesterday I watched her old b&w cooking show on making beef bourgignon on youtube ... she recommended that meat be moved permanently in a hot stainless steel pan to prevent it from sticking ... I don't think that is quite true, is it ...?

    That said she uses a bigger knife than I do and she has better knife skills too! She must have been a pretty cool person.