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Monday, October 29, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Chez Jacques (Pepin)

CHEZ JACQUES; traditions and rituals of a cook (Stewart, Tabori &
Chang, 2007, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-58479-571-1, $54 hard covers) is by
the ubiquitous and lovable Jacques Pepin, well-known chef and cookbook
author. The book, meant to accompany a PBS series, weighs almost four
pounds, and will serve as a handy item for exercise, especially in
conjunction with the Indian spice route book (below), which weighs the
same. Balance both books in both your hands while you are not cooking.
This is Pepin's tenth PBS series; he has authored over 20 cookbooks.
The 100 recipes here are his personal faves (or so he says). Here he
cooks at home in Connecticut. Each dish has an anecdote related to the
food or its construction, sort of like a "Proustian Madeleine" In some
ways, it is more a picture book and art book - it is illustrated with
some of his paintings - meant for the coffee table (Stewart Tabori &
Chang is an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, the well-known art book
publisher). He does have an extensive discussion on what makes a
recipe, but the book is French-styled all the way. WARNING: the recipes
are in narrative style (which I love), like the old Gourmet magazine
recipes used to be.
Audience and level of use: gift giving, coffee tables, fans of Pepin.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pate of pheasant; frogs legs
with garlic and parsley; pasta with mussels and shrimp; lobster
souffle; snails in artichoke bottoms; chicken liver timbale; berry
The downside to this book: too many pictures of Pepin, and there are
only 100 recipes
The upside to this book: there is a metric conversion chart for the US
weights and measures used.
Quality/Price Rating: 84.

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