This book, this book, this book. This was one of the first, big, expensive cookbook purchases I ever made, and it was so worth it. Ripailles is French for ‘Feasts’ and what the title promises, the book certainly delivers. A wonderful tour through a couple of different regions of France, with all the major classics covered as well, this is French food porn at the highest, but also most down-home level. I love this book, and even though the recipes are more than a little vague, I cook from it often. I mean, it has a whole chapter on eggs. Love it.
I think we all bought a copy of this book a few years ago, didn’t we? I have to admit, even though I was not a huge fan of the movie (Julie & Julia), I couldn’t resist buying the book. In all honesty, I don’t cook from it very often. But I do love this kind of old-fashioned cookery manual. The recipes are far more detailed and complex than what I usually run to in the kitchen for dinner, but it’s a great reference book. For example, if I ever want to know what the traditional Poulet a l’Estragon should contain, I know where to look. A great book, if you love a vintage classic.
Elizabeth David is the sassy Great Aunt that I wish I had. This woman had opinions, and she was not shy about sharing them. Luckily, her extensive travel and love of food meant that her opinions were usually backed up with experience, and totally worth listening to. Her books are so well written, that I often find myself snapping out of a trance-like state, feeling as though I really was in the South of France. The recipes are brilliant too – it’s almost impossible to believe that this book was published in 1962, because the recipes feel so modern, and still work so well today. This one is a treasure.
I have waxed lyrical about this book before, and it all still stands. This book is full of brilliant, interesting recipes. Miss Khoo takes a more modern approach to French cooking, which is perfect for how most people eat today. Heavy on the vegetables, with a solid sprinkling of indulgence and deliciousness too. More than anything, this book is an engrossing food-tour through the different regions of France, and always leaves me longing to hop on a plane, buy an old campervan, don my breton-striped shirt and start exploring France. This book is brilliant for anyone looking for some new inspiration, a little taste of France, or just for ideas on what to eat for dinner.
If you love pastry (who doesn’t) and you are ever planning go to Paris (who isn’t), then you must buy this book. The recipes are fantastic, culled as they are from some of Paris’s best patissieres, but it’s the stories about each of the Patisseries themselves that are so fascinating. The next time I am in Paris (PLEASE, let it be soon) I will be using this book as a road map, and each day I will visit one of the shops within it’s pages. I genuinely cannot think of a more pleasant way to spend a holiday.
This is another one for aspiring travelers to the French capital. Alain Ducasse is a serious French chef – his restaurants are world renowned – and it stands to reason that on his home turf he would have the best recommendations. What I love most about this book, is that even though there are a lot of well-know favourites, and places that I will never be able to afford, there are a lot of lesser known places too. Just the kind of off-the-beaten-track joints that I long to find and fall in love with in any city. For example, there is a cafe in the courtyard of a mosque on the Left Bank of the Seine which looks totally and completely enchanting. Food and travel porn at it’s finest.
I think it’s the dream of many to move to Paris, set up a little cafe, and then grow old serving a crowd of regulars. Well, Rose Carrarini and her husband did just that, albeit with a lot more experience and a little more finesse than most! The Rose Bakery is a wonderful hybrid of old English charm, and Parisian chic. This book is worth it for Rose’s wonderful recipes, and beautiful storytelling voice, as for the fantastic insight into what Parisian life is like. Plus the photos and design are heavenly.
Clichéed? Maybe. Escapist? Definitely. One of the most battered, re-read books on my shelf? Yup! If you haven’t got a copy of this book, and you love food, then you are missing out friend. Each page is littered with descriptions of steaming mugs of chocolate, mysticalrecipes and lavish meals. I’m not going to try and sell you on the writing, because only you know what kind of book you like to read. Suffice it to say that for me, this book is the reading equivalent of just eating a block of dark chocolate straight out of the cupboard. Don’t overthink it, and you will enjoy it immensely.
Stay with me! I generally don’t purchase any book that lives in the diet section, as a rule, but this one was gifted to me. As soon as got over my mortal anguish at the thought that someone would give me a book about losing weight (cringe) I actually read it. Guys, this book is actually great. The author, Mireille Guiliano is French herself, and divides her time between New York and her home in the South of France. She is the ex-CEO of Veuve Clicquot, so you know she knows how to have a good time, and the recipes and stories within this book are thrillingly evocative. She barely talks about losing weight, never talks about how she or anyone else looks, and instead focuses entirely on eating and enjoying food. This is definitely my kind of diet book, and one that I bring out often when I’m just dreaming of France.
I’ll skip the pretentious ‘I love Hemingway’ speech, and instead I’ll just tell you that if you love the idea of France, then you should read this book and then go see the movie Midnight in Paris. There is no better combination of things for whisking one’s self away to another world. If you don’t like Hemingway’s style, then I can’t really blame you, but the lifestyle that he and the other writers at the time led in Paris is pretty enviable to me, and makes for fantastic escapist reading. Plus, you won’t get the pitying glances that people give you if you’re walking around with Chocolat.
So what do you think? Have you read any of these, or are there any others you’d add to the list? I love a book recommendation, so give me a shout out in the comments!