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The best French cookbooks?

My husband. who is a former Italian chef, is looking to begin doing classic French cooking at home. What are the best cookbooks for French cuisine?

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  1. Maybe Mastering The Art Of French Cooking Volumes 1 (Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck) & 2 (Julia Child) to start? That's what I go to.

    1. Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", Patricia Wells' "Bistro Cooking", Jacques Pepin's "La Technique"


      1 Reply
      1. re: Amuse Bouches

        Agree totally with always_eating and amuse bouches - those cookbooks should get him thru the course. I went almost all the way thru Julia's cookbooks and still make a lot of things from them. Can't go wrong.

        1. I would also suggest looking at Olney's books, and Elizabeth David's books about French cooking. The latter have very useful bibliographies, including French cookbooks (both those in English and those in French) that she recommends. I agree though that to learn classic French cooking, the Julia Child books, because of the specificity of the instructions, is probably the way to go.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MMRuth

            I agree with MMR's suggestion of Elizabeth David's books. Wonderful.

            Another favorite, although it's limited geographically, is Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France.

            I also love Robert Courtine's Hundred Glories of French Cooking and Julian, of course. Courtine's book covers many of the most famous French dishes.

            Oh, and don't forget the Roux Brothers' books.

          2. In addition to the books mentioned above, I would also consider James Peterson's "Glorious French Food" and Madeleine Kamman's "The New Making of a Cook."

            Although I think Mastering the Art of French Cooking belongs in any cook's library, those books were written at a time when many ingredients that are now easy to find were not. Her cassoulet, for example, assume you're neither going to be able to purchase nor want to make your own confit and that's certainly no longer the case.

            1. Larousse Gastronomique, Escoffier The Complete Guide To The Art Of Modern Cookery and Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.

              IMO... http://www.ecookbooks.com is the best place for cookbooks.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Demented

                Larousse is great as a reference--I have a 1960's version that I love --as is Escoffier. These are very good for someone that is already a chef like your husband. I use them both...

                1. re: hankstramm

                  With 8,500 recipes, Larousse Gastronomique is more than a reference.

                  Making 1 a day, it would take more than 20 years to cook every reicpe in this book.

                  1. re: Demented

                    On the cover it says it's an "encyclopedia of food, wine and cookery". Last time I checked, encyclopedias are considered reference books. I use it as a great reference, but rarely cook recipes right out of it. The recipes are good, but very old-fashioned and not the way most cook these days. The book by Robuchon that I mentioned has many of the same recipes in LG, but they are modernized and don't have as many egg yolks, cream and butter in everything...

              2. For your purposes, I would have to say that The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon is probably the best one out there. It isn't his fancy haute cuisine, but it is for cooking many of the French classics at home...

                2 Replies
                1. re: hankstramm

                  Neat. Who would have guessed that it was more home-style? How do the recipes rank on the scale from light to heavy? Pretty heavy on butter and cream?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    the butter and cream content depends on what region the dish is from.

                    Dishes from the dairy-rich north -- Bretagne, Normandy, and Picardie -- are typically full of butter and cream, as those ingredients were cheap and plentiful.

                    Dishes from the southwest feature goose or duck fat, as those ingredients were cheapest and most plentiful there.

                    Dishes from Provence typically are limited to olive oil and herbs.

                    France is a wonderful country to discover via your tastebuds -- a rather short journey will turn up vastly different culinary offerings.

                2. I suggest Jaques Pepin.

                  A true french way and his books detail every move you need to know , right down
                  to filleting a fish or boning a chicken.

                  A most charming fellow:


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Naguere

                    I'd have to agree on JP. Although not most of his books. I'm pretty sure Naguere was referring to the Techiniques books (I think that's what they're called). From the 70's or 80's.

                  2. French Country Kitchen , by James Villas is killer