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The disposition of the first entry in this season's Fancy-Food-to-Impress-Your-Fancy-Friends sweepstakes may be surmised from the recipe for sauce rouille, a pungent accompaniment to fish stews which is traditionally achieved by pounding stale bread, hot peppers, and several cloves of garlic to a paste before adding olive oil. Gu‚rard's version is based on egg yolk rather than bread, tones down the garlic, uses prepared hot red-pepper paste rather than fleshly pounded whole peppers, and gussies up the whole with anchovies, tomato paste, lemon juice, and mustard. Then there is his pƒte bris‚e, which demonstrates that the practice of putting nonfat dry milk in everything is no longer limited to commercial American bakeries. Nothing is left unfussed with; even an ordinary sauce vinaigrette must be labeled vinaigrette gourmande by virtue of a few fresh herbs and sherry vinegar. Is this to say that cuisine gourmande is no better than the Emperor's Clothes? Not at all; there are any number of genuinely gorgeous dishes here--for example, ham slices and fresh peas with a blended mushroom and sorrel sauce. And there are some very salutary approaches, such as the great use of lightly cooked (sometimes steamed) fresh vegetables and the abundant presence of lightly simmered or uncooked sauces. But virtually everything has ""restaurant pi‚ce de r‚sistance"" written all over it. True, one can find lovely plain fare like potatoes saut‚ed in goose fat. But for the most part there are pur‚es, pur‚es, pur‚es, both as sauces and as vegetable dishes; there are multifarious combinations of julienned vegetables; there are endlessly clever visual presentations--most egregiously, a filet of beef got up to look like a whole fish, with ""scales"" of truffle slices. Paradise enow for the conspicuous consumption contingent.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow