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In French

OP: Cuisine Insolite

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by Raymond Oliver and Mose

Edilux Editeur, 1969. Hardcover. Very Good. First printing.

Raymond Oliver (1909–1990)—chef, restaurateur, and TV personality—is probably best known among our customers for his tour de force published in 1967, La Cuisine

Cuisine Insolite, published two years later and which we offer here, is a book we had never seen before but are tickled to know now.

Illustrated by French artist Mose (1917–2003) and designed by Jean Jirou-Najou, it is indeed an unusual book, an achievement of design, illustration, and typesetting. The introduction and table of contents are written and printed in the style of a restaurant menu, laminated and attached with a ribbon; a check from Oliver’s restaurant Grand Vefour, ascribed to “table Bonaparte,” is loosely pasted in “to deduct from your taxes;” and the black clothbound cover is illustrated with an anthropomorphic tureen bearing a fuzzy beard. 

The recipes themselves, of which there are 22, are legitimate and mostly traditional French dishes, i.e. escargot, leek gratin, gâteau jonquille. The accompanying illustrations and typesetting, however, are playful, humorous, and sometimes absurd. For those familiar with Oliver’s culinary philosophy, it will come as no surprise that the three pages dedicated to “diet food” are blank.

The last nine pages resemble a restaurant’s guest book, sparsely signed by celebrities from Dracula to Lucrèce Borgia and Victor Hugo.

There was a reissue by French publisher Epure in 2008 in nearly identical format but with the addition of 15 new signatures to the guest book. Ours, however, is the original 1969 edition by Edilux Editeur in Very Good condition with the original protective glassine wrapper, 11” x 11”, 78 pages. First printing, in French. Acquired from the Sontheimer Foundation Library. Carl Sontheimer (1914–1998) invented the original Cuisinart food processor.

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