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Glorious French Food:
A Fresh Approach to the French Classics
cookbook reviewsa fresh approach to the french classics
Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the French Classics by James Peterson
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Reviewed by Jeremy Emmerson

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November 2002
Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach To The Classics - the latest title from James Peterson. In true Peterson style a mammoth detailed volume awaits the reader. His books are notoriously comprehensive and, according to my sources, the gift of choice for every North American aunt - when it comes to rewarding their favorite cooking-school-graduating niece or nephew.

In Chicago I recently met up with Mr. Peterson at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. I had never sat down to lunch with a complete stranger that happened to have almost 400 000 books in print, a teeny bit nerve racking to start. But as we devoured a lunch of splendid tacos and sipped our margaritas it soon became obvious that Mr. Peterson (Jim to his friend) was a cool guy. We discussed his eighth book.

Glorious French Food was four years in the making and even though Peterson aimed to produce a comprehensive document - even he was surprised at the size of the beefy book once it was complete. His decision to pen a book on an already much written food group stems not from the fact that the French cook great food. But because he respects the fact that food is a way of life for the French. It was his "hippy day" travels that took him to France in the '70's, and it was his immersion into their culture that turned him on to food and the idea of being a chef. Peterson injects further personality into the book by photographing the dishes showcased within. I really respect the fact that after working so hard to create a book a writer would wish to finish the creative process - portraying the food as they feel it should be. I would have liked to see more pictures, (they do paint a thousand words you know) but the shots that have been included do the job pretty well.

I worked my way through the book's 800 pages. Its content (logically) follows a classical format covering everything from Pot-au-feu to Preserves. The recipes are bountiful, well laid out; many are garnished with additional cooking tips and laced with footnotes. We put several recipes to the test - pretty tasty, even if I do say so myself - and easy to follow. We did find one typo (Coq au Vin recipe) it was very however rather obvious and therefore did not cause a kafuffle in the kitchen. Another plus, the recipes are complete. In other words, to cook one recipe the user does not have to reference several others (unless one is in need of a base sauce or stock).

To summarize, Peterson has produced another book that I am sure will go to press for a second run, offer itself as a good reference for every chef, and prove to be a splendid new addition to the list of classic graduating gifts every American based super aunt.

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