When cookbooks describe well-known traditional recipes, they usually provide some sort of introduction or background to the dish. All too often one would like to know more, but it is only too rarely that such matters are discussed at length. For most cookbooks are obliged to give priority to the quantity of recipes they include, and cannot afford to be as comprehensive or discursive as they would like to be. In this book, each chapter covers a different dish at the length it deserves, mentioning its origins, etymology, geographical spread, folklore and even appearance in history and the arts, and its different versions.
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Peter Graham, has lived in France for much of his adult life. He has written books on the cinema and on psychoanalysis as well as compiling travel guides and undertaking journalism for the Sunday Times, The Times and the Guardian. His previous books on cookery include a translation of Jacques Médecin’s Cuisine Niçoise and his own Classic Cheese Cookery.Review:
"In France, the dinner is the thought of the morning and sometimes the business of the day," wrote the Victorian cleric Charles David Badham. Nowhere does this admirable philosophy still apply more than in the Auvergne, where expatriate Scot Peter Graham has been resident for more than 20 years. In this evocative and enjoyable account, he reveals how food remains the major preoccupation of the region. This cuisine is far from haute. Until recent years, the Auvergne was dirt poor, and that is reflected in its dishes. Aigo boulido is a soup mainly made of water, garlic and eggs. The "startlingly tasty" gelee de fleurs de pissenlit demands "400 newly opened dandelion flowers". As with all peasant food, the staple dishes of the Auvergne are intended for a robust appetite. Aligot ("rather indigestible when eaten in large quantities") combines mash, cream, butter, garlic and cheese. Graham admits the omelette au boudin (black pudding) may sound "far-fetched, not to say repulsive... but the proof of the pudding is in the eating". Though you might have trouble getting hold of some ingredients - such as the "120ml fresh duck blood" used in salamis de canard - this passionately written book is packed with stimulation, both intellectual and culinary." The Independent
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