French Family Cooking-Hardcpve

Jacques Burdick, Author Fawcett Books $19.95 (346p) ISBN 978-0-449-90303-2
Burdick, a Texan, relates his discovery of great homecooking in France 40 years ago when ``resourceful cooks taught me how to prepare a fine meal, using only the tiny alcohol burner I kept in my room.'' His book, a celebration of cassoulet and coq au vin, is ``about how ordinary French householders prepare good, simple, economical food.'' However, these may be French householders from the panhandle, for it is hard to imagine thrifty menageres , proud of the bones and scraps they've saved, making a fonds blanc from expensive veal shanks and ground veal. Nor do their roux, like his, contain liquid, bechamel stock or mirepoix turnips and sugar. Burdick's recipes are written like those of the ``master pancake-makers in Brittany'' who ``refuse to give exact measurements.'' We are rarely told how much to thicken or how long to cook a dish or what vital sign to await in conclusion, the information that dresses a recipe for success. Variety meats prove to be the most interesting fare, but all have been en famille and en public for many generations. The author's only bow to the present is a list of healthy ways to prepare meat: cook the interior to 140 degrees, he advises. So much for that favorite French family meal--a nice rare steak and frites. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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