September 29, 2014
French Roots by Jean-Pierre Moulle
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons
This is a charming combination of memoir and cookbook. The memoir portions are fun to read, and it feels like you're following right along with them as they hunt wild mushrooms, picnic in the French Pyrenees or just experience French family life. The recipes are fascinating if not always appetizing! I'm sorry, but things like Steak Tartare (there is nothing healthy or even tasty to me about raw meat!!) or duck legs cooked in over a GALLON of duck fat are definitely not going to come out of my kitchen.
There is some great information (I loved the note on Bouquet Garni), but it's obvious that the author lives in an area where he can get pretty much whatever he wants and finances are not an issue. He states that only fresh fish should be used and "if frozen is all you can get, cook something else." I'm sorry, but I happen to love seafood and since I live in Tennessee, there's not a lot of fish I can get that's really fresh. I'm not going to stop cooking fish simply because I don't have access to fresh fish. If I am blessed to someday live where I can get fresh seafood then I'll happily cook it instead. Until that day, I'm going to do the best I can with what I have.
There are so many great recipes in this book. Summer Vegetables in Terra-Cotta, Baked Mussels with Saffron and Cream, and Porcini Omelet to name a few. The recipes are clear and easy to follow. The Pizza Dough recipe for the Onion Tart with Anchovies, Olives and Thyme does not have enough liquid. I had to add a good tablespoon of water to it. That could have something to do with altitude, type of flour or other variable. Also, it only makes a 10-inch flat bread, so having it rise for 12-18 hours seems a bit much.
This is a beautiful book with a good quality binding and gorgeous photos. It would have been nice to have more photos of the actual dishes and less photos such as the one with someone's feet and a small basket of figs, a fern lined basket with mushrooms inside or the author gathering firewood. The Summer Vegetables in Terra-Cotta, for instance, talks before the recipe about the importance of slicing the vegetables the same size an how much better effect it has. It would have been nice to include a photo to show that effect.
If you are trying to eat remotely healthy, this probably is not the cookbook for you. Lots of heavy cream, cheese, fat and more makes my arteries harden just reading it! If you love France, French food, or deep flavor--well, then I would definitely recommend this book.
I received a copy of this book through Blogging for Books for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.