"BACKROAD BISTROS, FARMHOUSE FARE: A French Country Cookbook" by Jane Sigal

"BACKROAD BISTROS, FARMHOUSE FARE: A French Country Cookbook"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sigal, who has edited the food newsletter Paris en Cuisine and other publications, pays tribute to classic French provincial cuisine with savory dishes that allow even novices to indulge in rich, traditional fare or alter the recipes to reduce the fat content for healthier but equally tasty meals. She also emphasizes using the freshest ingredients available, so the engaging sidebars that accompany each recipe, which offer everything from regional cooking history to personal anecdotes to serving suggestions, also recommend seasonal substitutes (for example, just-picked asparagus tips or morels instead of the rather mundane, but always available, vegetable medley for an impressive puff pastry with tomato sauce). Sigal evidently put a lot of research into this endeavor, studying the diversity of local produce, farming techniques, cheese production, meat curing, salt harvesting, grain preferences, and the like in four regions of France: Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy, and Provence. She imparts this knowledge in the informative, but shockingly ill-written, introduction and chapter openings, as well as prior to particular dishes -- the ideal environmental conditions for snail farming (""an eternally muggy summer day"") are described just before the recipe for snails in basil and garlic sauce. Sigal's attention to detail insures cooking success, with accurate cooking times, convincing encouragement to use flee-range chicken for full flavor, simple tips for peeling roasted red peppers, and perfectly subtle seasoning. Menu planning suggestions offer guidance for typical regional dining as well as ways to combine dishes from many regions. Kudos for cooking like a peasant -- ignore the fact that Sigal writes like one too.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1994
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Doubleday