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OP: Simple French Food

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by Richard Olney

It seems hard to believe that Richard Olney’s Simple French Food was published in 1974. This amazingly durable book, in print in a variety of editions almost continuously for nearly fifty years, has served as an introduction to fine cooking for innumerable professionals as well as devoted amateurs. 

Rooted in the French tradition less known to most Americans—not the haute variety but rather cuisine simple—it combines in an effortless fashion the fundamentals of theory and technique with a huge battery of ravishing recipes. It is the food of the provinces and of the urban bistros of France—hearty preparations of fresh noodles with chicken breast; Breton chowder; braised stuffed oxtail; baked apple curd—lively, fresh, and conceptually simple.

Olney (1927–1999), an American painter, lived in France, mainly in Provence, for close to fifty years, tutoring himself and cooking with some of his adopted country’s most admired home cooks and country restaurant proprietors. Filled with rich detail, little publicized tips and kitchen tricks and seldom-described cooking basics such as the making of vinegar, this book, his first, has won a devoted following.

We are pleased to offer a first printing copy—with its distinct and widely recognized blue, red, and black jacket—in Very Good Plus condition. The case shows faint hints of food staining along the bottom edge, though the interior is clean and unmarked. The jacket is missing paper at the head and foot of the spine where it also shows liquid damage; otherwise, shelfworn with small closed tears. A brochure for a dinner curated by Olney at The Forum of the Twelve Caesars was found laid in, and we have left the souvenir for the next owner. A very happy find. An excellent gift or a pleasure to have for one’s own collection.

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