What Are The Essential Books On French Cooking?

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What are the "must own" books for me to get a well rounded collection on French cooking and French culinary culture? including the complete scope, even history or biography books can be included, I mean the hardcore real thing, nothing reduced down for the average home cook to understand. I'm certain Escoffier is the place to start who/what else? thank you.  
 
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1: Marie-Antoine Carême, L'Art de la cuisine française au dix-neuvième siècle. Traité élémentaire et pratique.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Antoine_Carême

2: Escoffier, Le guide culinairehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_guide_culinaire

3: Fernand Point, Ma gastronomy   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernand_Point  

4: Paul Bocouse.  But I don't know if he has written a book that changed everything.

5: Alan Ducasse, Grand Livre de Cuisine Medditerranee, Grand Livre de Cuisine, and Desserts and patisserie. (All the Master Chefs are in France are using Ducasse's books now)

6: Larousse Gastronomique

7: Larousse des Desserts

8: Cuisine de Reference, edition BPI

9: Travaux Pratiques de Cusine, edition BPI

10: L'Art Culinaire Francais. (This book is a compilation of master chef writings from before 1950)

11: Le Repertoire de la Cuisine

The above list is in cronological order untill #10 +11.  #10 was written at the highth of French cuisine and is a compliation of many grand master chefs writings, you can use the book to get a feel of french cooking, and to learn what other historical French chefs to study.  #11 is basiclly a condenced virsiion of Escoffier's book of the golden era of French cuisine.  Fernand Point took over with cuisine neuvelle, then Bocuse took over and now it is Ducasse who is "running" the show.

I know what you mean about the wattered down stuff, I call the above list of books "souce books" Julia Child wrote her book by stuiding these.

You might also research Alexandre Dumas Pere, Brillat-Savaarian, and the cuisine of the courts of the Bourbons.
 
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 Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking (1960) it got me started.

Ma Gastronomie Fernand Point not only for his food but the reasons he closed his restaurant.
 
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Most of these books you have mentioned are simply take offs on Escoffier which imn my day ,prior to that and today I would still classify as the bible. of classic cuisine.
 

margcata

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Valuable thread and thanks for all the informative books, many which I have in our home Library on French cuisine.

I also would like to recommend the following:

Provençe the Beautiful Cookbook - Author: Richard Olney: this edition takes one on an extraordinaire journey through Provençe´s unforgettable regional gastronomy.

Provençe, A Country Almanac - Author: Louisa Jones: an examination on both the subject of the culinary arts and literature in this extraordinaire region of France. 

Toulouse Lautrec´s Table - Author: Jean Bernard Naudin: This artist loved to cook as much as he loved to paint. A fascinating culinary joy for your kitchen and your library.

Châteux Cuisine - Author: Anne Willan: This authoress covers the subjects of the aristocratic table and the heritage of France´s Kitchen.

Many thanks again,

Have a lovely Labor Day Wkend.

Marge.
 
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Looks like a lot of good stuff here thanks. Now my mail carrier will hate me even more.
 
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Ecoffier's book is the bible, however, it is not as though he wrote it.  There were many before him who he gained from, and there are those after him who took it all further.  In Escoffier's book he says to cook a lobster 20 minutes, to add 500 g. sugar per liter of milk to custard, and many other things which must be and have been modified.  It is interesting and informative to read the books of Ecoffier's masters, and to read the books from the masters of Escoffiers time - or just before his time.  Then one can get a feel of how things have progressed and changed.  BTW, did you know the recipe for budion noir in his book is 5,000 years old?  It was first written in cuneiform and the first written recipe.

What's really great about Escoffier's book is his explanations of technique and service.  Few books go into such exact detail as his and he will teach you to cook the French way.  Today, even Ducasse's books give little in way of technique and as you read it you must fish it out, ie you must already know.  Larousse gives technique, half the time quoting Escoffier or Careme. 

Editions BPI are the teaching books for French apprentice cooks today, they go into technique.
 
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I find the French are best cooked in red wine and goose fat, but I have yet to find a book that really exploits that dynamic to its fullest...
 
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Ecoffier's book is the bible, however, it is not as though he wrote it.  There were many before him who he gained from, and there are those after him who took it all further.  In Escoffier's book he says to cook a lobster 20 minutes, to add 500 g. sugar per liter of milk to custard, and many other things which must be and have been modified.  It is interesting and informative to read the books of Ecoffier's masters, and to read the books from the masters of Escoffiers time - or just before his time.  Then one can get a feel of how things have progressed and changed.  BTW, did you know the recipe for budion noir in his book is 5,000 years old?  It was first written in cuneiform and the first written recipe.

What's really great about Escoffier's book is his explanations of technique and service.  Few books go into such exact detail as his and he will teach you to cook the French way.  Today, even Ducasse's books give little in way of technique and as you read it you must fish it out, ie you must already know.  Larousse gives technique, half the time quoting Escoffier or Careme. 

Editions BPI are the teaching books for French apprentice cooks today, they go into technique.
Editions BPI? what books are those? 
 
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 " Modern French culinary Art "   H.P. Pellaprat   (1869- 1949)

"Buffets and Receptions"  Pierre Mengelatte ,   Walter Bickel,  and                                                                                                                                                                                               Albin Abelanet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These were the first   serious books that i bought back in 1978. They  are still the best I have 500 books later.

They cost  $80.00  each  in 78                    

Chef Mo
 
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Paula Wolfert - The Cooking of South-West France

Wolfert is always absolutely stunning, she has that scarce ability to dig out recipes that are almost peculiar to a single village and immensely original. I would love it if the author did something exclusively about Turkey as that country is criminally underrepresented in English.

Mireille Johnston - The Cuisine of the Rose

Deals with Burgundy and Lyonnais and is one of the best books ever written on French cuisine. She has also written a book about Provence that is very highly rated (she was actually born in Provence, so that might be even better).

Elizabeth David - French Provincial Cooking

An absolute classic. Although it's commonly stated, this book is not only about Provence, but deals with all the regions equally.

Jacques Médecin - La bonne cuisine du Comté de Nice

The bible of Niçoise cooking, period. There is an English translation, too, but I haven't read it.

I'm going to be heretical now, but I really don't care much for Julia Child. 
 
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If you're looking for the classics, besides Escoffier, here are a few of my faves:
  • The Complete Paul Bocuse (nouvelle);
  • Michel Guerard's Cuisine Gourmande (nouvelle);
  • Cuisine de Bonne Femme, Mme E. Saint-Ainge (pre-war cuisine bourgeois);
  • The Great Book of French Cuisine (also published under the title, Modern French Culinary Art), Pellaprat (pre-war haute); and
  • Roger Verge's Cuisine of the South of France (contemporary, Mediterranean nouvelle).
BDL
 
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