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A French Book Review: The French Market – Joanne Harris and Fran Warde

Joanne Harris authorAuthor Joanne Harris teamed up with Fran Warde, a trained chef and author of several books herself to write a French ”cook book” with a difference.

A cook book that takes you to the heart of French cuisine – not haut cuisine but cuisine that illustrates the culture, heritage and tradition of a nation that has a passion for cooking…

In The French Market, the second collaboration of these two lively ladies, the recipes come not from Joanne Harris’ grand-mère as in the first book, The French Kitchen. They come instead from the people Joanne and Fran meet on their journey around South West France, visiting markets in the area of Gascony.  Legend has it that the Gascons live the longest of all the people in France and attribute their longevity and good health to their daily dose of garlic, duck fat and of course … red wine! 

These are tasty and rustic dishes from market stall holders, farmers, local families and communities. People happy to share the details of the recipes they love, cook and hand down from one generation to another – like small legends being passed down through the years. Recipes that people discover through trial and error, perfecting the ingredients and method of cooking to create a special dish.

The recipes themselves are intended to be simple and take the underlying principle that no chef however inexperienced can go wrong when using good seasonal ingredients and good clear instructions as here. There are classics such as boeuf bourgignon with its “irresistible tenderness” and less well-known dishes such as Citrouille au Romarin – a roasted pumpkin dish – simple, wholesome and oh so French.  If you think that creating an authentic French dish, bursting with flavour, teasing the taste buds and impressing everyone is difficult to achieve – think again.  This book doesn’t use hard to get ingredients and it doesn’t use terms that you’d need to go to Cordon Bleu school to understand.  It is a delightful, easy to use, wonderfully warm book of French recipes.

Each section is prefaced with a wonderful introduction by writers who passion is unmistakeable and infectious. The little snippets of detail and tips for how to recognise good products. The small personal observations such as the comment on the recipe for classic crème caramel “a silken, unctuous dish”… (Alexander) “Dumas suggests a variety of alternative flavours – rosewater, pistachio, lemon, coffee”.

The stunning photographs of the dishes, French scenes and French markets by Debi Treloar add to the delight of this wonderful warm, embracing book of French recipes.

Soups, salads, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and deserts are all covered – this book is an absolute gem. If you love French food, cooking and beautiful photographs – you’ll love this book.

Read it, cook it and bon appétit it!

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