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OP: New Menus From Simca's Cuisine

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by Simone "Simca" Beck
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Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. Hardcover. Near Fine in Very Good jacket.

Simone “Simca” Beck (1904–1991) is perhaps best known as one of the French co-authors on Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I (1961) and Volume II (1970). No stranger to cookbook writing, Beck published her first book What’s Cooking in France? in 1952, though to minimal fanfare. Publishers insisted that Americans were not interested in French cuisine. A decade later, however, that no longer seemed to be the case.

Beck and Child met in 1949 and, along with fellow co-author, Louisette Bertholle, formed l’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes to give lessons on French cooking to American women in Paris. This enterprise laid the groundwork for the collaboration that would launch Julia Child’s career. 

Perhaps reinvigorated by Child’s success, Beck tried again to bring French cuisine to a mass audience straight from the source, publishing three of her own works after Mastering the Art

New Menus From Simca’s Cuisine (1978) is notably more wide-ranging than her earlier Simca’s Cuisine (1972). It is not strictly, classically French—a reflection of Beck’s ongoing curiosity about food and cooking in what were meant to be her retirement years. There is an ease of tone in this book that suggests a new comfort and confidence in her solo career. Beck no longer had anything to prove and could simply indulge her passion for teaching people to cook really well.

A lunch for four features a cheese custard, fish filets steamed on individual plates with a generous portion of butter and chopped herbs, a side of cucumber poached in butter and its own juices, roasted potatoes, and a macadamia nut cake with rum-pistachio buttercream for dessert. A supper party for twelve includes a salmon pate followed by rabbit and fowl aspic, an endive salad, and finishes with apricot sponge cake topped with Bavarian cream.

We are pleased to offer a Near Fine second printing with a lightly shelfworn dust jacket. Those with an unhappy relationship to butter and cream will find many enemies here, no doubt. The rest of us will enjoy the decadent and delightful combination of good food and good company.

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