Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1 (paperback)
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The book that made Julia Child a household name in America: a thorough, meticulous introduction to French home classics.
Writing along with two French-born cooks, Child spent many years perfecting this groundbreaking guide to French cuisine. It is rigorous and sometimes demanding, the way one can easily imagine a grandmother would be as she teaches you dishes that you might have absorbed from childhood had you only had the good fortune to be raised in France. There are, of course, recipes for somewhat intimidating dishes such as beef bourguignon and blanquette de veau. But they’re long because the authors are so careful in their explanations of all the steps. And simpler recipes abound, for everything from braised vegetables to roast chicken.
Throughout the book, line-drawings help illustrate everything from the where particular cuts of meat derive to how to transfer an omelette from pan to plate. Very few books take this kind of care to educate a cook, and Mastering’s legions of fans are a testimony to the rewards of the book’s approach.