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 free-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. (b&w photos, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)