Another slice of France

Photo0216The Book

Cooking and Traveling in South-West France

Author

Stephanie Alexander

Year

2002

What it says on the back cover

‘When I see someone riding slowly on a bicycle with a baguette tied firmly to the rear of it, along a road lined with poplars or trail my hand in a fast-flowing river and look up at a castle built several hundred years ago, or happen upon an unselfconscious country market,  my heart soars’ ~ Stephanie Alexander

What made me pick up the book?

Since The Kitchen Companion was published several years ago,  I have always been interested in this author and this is third book of hers  which has recently been added to my ever increasing cookbook collection. Stephanie Alexander is an Australian writer and cook.

About the book

This is yet another French cookbook that swept me off my feet with lovingly taken photographs all around the South western region of France. I have another one which I will write a review on at some point soon but this one deserves a special mention now.

Three hundred and ninety two pages are deliciously photographed in around the authors writing by Simon Griffiths. This book gives us a taste of a place referred to as the “Country of Enchantment” and it certainly proves its point in this book. The first section looks at why France has been  given this special name and and the countryside in which the author shares her past with the reader about her experiences of being an au pair when she was younger and the French people she has met, it is a lovely introduction which gives the reader a taste of what is to come and the trips that she has made over the years. Recipes start appearing in around the 47th page where one can make a yabbie dish with a fennel broth. Whenever I see fresh fennel myself I often like to eat side by side with a baked salmon, and a glass of white wine. Like many, I savor those flavours and love to mop up the juices with a nice chunky bread such as a  French baguette, delicious!  What was nice to see was a little tip at the bottom of this recipe where Stephanie tells readers ”when eating yabbies I find that a strong nutcracker is helpful for extracting the sweet meat from the front claws”.  This is good to know and eat dish accompanies a delightful picture so you can see what your beautiful dish should turn out like once it is cooked.

Is this book worth buying?

This book (like many others by Stephanie Alexander) are treats to read and treats to use as cookbooks. I was fortunate enough again to find this, the same way I found my other French cookbook that I reviewed on Michel Roux’s book, so I am very lucky indeed and did very well that day. I have over the years ‘weeded’ a number of my cookbooks and have since passed them on to others either by selling them to my local second hand book dealer or giving them away. This book is a keeper and like my other French cookbooks in my possession, as with any of my cookbooks, I enjoy reading alot of material that reflects the country the food has come from, the culture and its people.  My Time Life books that are old, but still great will always be with me for those very reasons.

This cookbook has everything one would expect from a cookbook of hers. It has beautiful illustrations, lovely photography of the food and its people and the region itself. Simplicity is  found throughout the book.  One of my favourite photos is of a dining area with a simple brick wall, well scrubbed wooden floorboards and a beautiful cabinet and with a table and chair.  It also has a huge copper pot displayed over the fireplace.

Cooking and Travelling in South West France

Five stars

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