cover image The Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine

The Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine

Paula Wolfert. John Wiley & Sons, $37.5 (455pp) ISBN 978-0-7645-7602-7

When it comes to French food, many Americans know little beyond the bistros of Paris or the herbs of Provence. But many of France's most delightful culinary traditions are to be found near (or nearish) the Pyrenees. For example, there is nothing more enticing than a jar of foie gras, a baguette and a glass of Vin de Cahors; even a simple bowl of Perigord walnuts and a snifter of armagnac can make an immensely satisfying dessert. These combinations can easily be reproduced in an American kitchen-all you need is a good supermarket and plenty of cash-but for more complex dishes, like a Bearnais bean stew, you need a guide. Enter Wolfert and this expanded revision of her 1983 classic, replete with a handy index listing dozens of internet shops that sell everything from truffles to snails. Not only is this is a useful book, it's also interesting to read. Wolfert includes a chapter on the ""Tastes of the French Southwest,"" with informative sections on cepes, regional cheeses and truffles, just to name a few. And the recipes do not disappoint. Some standouts include Morue Pil-Pil, a spicy, slow-cooked salt cod dish recipe from the Basque region, and Cepes of the Poor, chunks of eggplant sauteed to replicate the texture of costly mushrooms. Be advised: although Wolfert does allow for less fattening substitutions, like olive oil for duck fat, this is not a cookbook for dieters. And many of these recipes will take hours, if not a full day, of preparation, but the food is worth the wait, and the weight.