A New Crop of French Cookbooks; An American One, Too

Both La Boite a Legumes (the vegetable box) and La Boite a Gateau (the cake box) hold a series of paperback books by Keda Black, an imaginative cookbook author and food stylist.   The vegetable box has 14 books, each with 20 recipes – the only thing the box doesn’t come with is seeds and soil

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And the cake box has 16 books, again each has 20 recipes, and each covers a flavor or a combination of flavors.  For instance, in addition to the requisite chocolate and vanilla, there are books on coffee+chestnut, cherry+white chocolate, mango+coconut, licorice+mint, and the current darling of French flavor combos, litchi+ rose

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For chocolate lovers, there’s the first book from Patrick Roger, master chocolatier, Fort en Chocolat

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The book comes in a signature Roger presentation box

French publishers often publish just enough books for the season and then rarely reprint them, so if there’s something you want, you have to grab it on the spot.  But here’s an American book you should grab quickly not because it will go out of print – this one’s destined to be a classic – but because you’ll want to start reading it and cooking from it immediately

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Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan is both a treasure and a treasury of authentic recipes from every corner of France written by a woman who has devoted her life to studying and teaching French cooking. 

Anne, the founder of the La Varenne Cooking School (which graduated such stars as Amanda Hesser of The New York Times, who wrote about her experiences at La Varenne in The Cook and The Gardener; Jonathan Waxman, chef of Barbuto; and Molly Stevens, whose books, particularly All About Braising, are must-haves for serious cooks), is a champion of all that is genuine and good in this country.  She is both a scholar and a terrific cook, so with each recipe you learn something of its history, its ingredients and its importance in the region.  If you’re like me and think that knowing about a dish makes it taste even better, then you’ll love this beautifully photographed new book.

Dorie Greenspan

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