France’s venerable culinary tradition derives much of its character from the long-standing practice of training and even mentoring younger cooks, who labor and learn at the stove of the master. Chefs train future colleagues—or, in some cases competitors—as they begin to develop their skills and their own styles.
One of the most famous kitchen training grounds during the mid-20th century was La Pyramide in Vienne, just south of Lyon. Opened in 1922 and ruled firmly by its eminent chef/owner Fernand Point (1897–1955), it trained at different points Paul Bocuse, himself a great teacher, the much admired Troisgros brothers, and the young, brilliant Alain Chapel. Point was a major creative force, setting out some of the ideas that would in time infuse hidebound traditional haute cuisine with features that would allow it to evolve into its more unshackled modern style.
Following Point’s death, La Pyramide continued to be operated by his wife, the redoubtable Marie Louise (1898-1986), known simply as Madame Point. In 1969 Madame gathered her husband’s work into a book and published it under his name.
Although its main purpose was to memorialize her husband and, not incidentally, to publicize the restaurant, it is a striking cookbook/memoir/celebration, with interesting essays and illustrations contributed by artist-friends of the restaurant, such as André Dunoyer de Segonzac. Among the signature dishes were crème de morilles (cream of morels), maquereaux à l’oseille (mackerel with sorrel), truite au beurre mousseux (trout in foamed butter), and a much loved Marjolaine cake.
Although there have been several later editions in English, the French original, published by Flammarion—the only one containing all of the original artwork—has always been in demand. Our copy is in Near Fine condition—for a well-loved and reference classic, this is a rarity. There is a neatly written date on the front free endpaper and a newspaper clipping about Madame Point laid in.