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May 2, 2009 07:36 AM

Cookbook Recs

Need three: an Indian One, Mediterrean one, and a country French one.
Do you have any of these that you love love love?

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  1. Paula Wolfert......The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

    5 Replies
    1. re: billieboy

      I was looking at that one on - put it on my wish list. I'm being picky about this b/c I can buy only one of each cookbook - missing those three areas in my collection.

      1. re: bayoucook

        bayoucook: I'd skip the Slow Mediterranean Kitchen if you're only buyingone Med. book. It's ONLY recipes that take a long time to cook.

        Paula Wolfert has several other wonderful Med. cookbooks: Mediterranean Cooking, Eastern Mediterranean Cooking and Mediterranean Greens and Grains. All are great.

        She also has the magnificent Cooking of Southwest France. That, however, is also limited to one area of France and so cannot be considered widespread enough to be a French cookbook.

        I'd choose Elizabeth David's Mediterranean and French Country Food. I have it in hardcover, but I think it's in paperback. It may be out of print, but anything by her is stellar.

        My favorite Indian cookbook author is Madhur Jaffrey, but Julie Sahni is also very good. I have a book that includes a general Indian recipe book and an Eastern veg. cookbook in one volume. I'm sure you can find a Jaffrey generalized cookbook. I know she has one with dishes from various states in India.

        Good luck.

        1. re: oakjoan

          Thank you oakjoan, I'll look into those.

      2. re: billieboy

        Peruse what the Cookbook of the Month gang has to say about this book here:

        We cooked from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen in January 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and asked for it as a gift later. The recipes do, of course, take a while but very little of the time tends to be active prep.

        1. re: foxy fairy

          foxy - I'm lucky enough to have time - I'm retired, love spending time in the kitchen -

      3. For a really great Mediterranean cookbook I recommend "Mediterranean, Food of the Sun" by Joanna Farrow and Jacqueline Clark.

        It was a gift several years ago and I have loved everything I've made from it.
        It's a big book, there are more than 150 recipes and each dish is illustrated. Be careful, though if you go looking for it because I understand there are several reincarnations of the very same book... but the one you want is on the Amazon page I cited. Every Mediterranean country is represented. Did I mention that I LOVE it?? Incidently, I didn't know the price until I just searched at Amazon, but you'll be able to find copies all over the net. Just make certain you get the exact one pictured at Amazon.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Gio - that's what I'm looking for (I can only buy one) - but did you see the price?
          4 used starting at 149.00!! Geez!

            1. re: bayoucook

              They don't have it at Barnes and Noble. Must be a collector's item!

              1. re: bayoucook

                There are a couple on Ebay for much less than that -- be careful though, there seem to be 2 books with the same name - different authors.

                1. re: mr99203

                  I just went there and saw that - a totally different book!

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    Yes, but there were 2 items when I looked that were the Clark and Farrow book, one in the US and one in the UK. The UK one was a "buy it now" and even with shipping it'd be much less than $149.

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      Yes - I think there are 3 or 4 totally different books with the same title by the same authors...It seems the publishers had a good go around with that - but I suppose the authors must have OKed it... Anyway, try Alibris, but once again be careful of the cover illustration. That's the key to the oneIi have. Good luck. I hope you find it at a price that's good for you.

                      I had NO idea it was that expensive. My daughter gave it to me but she's a very savvy shopper and probably paid less for it.


                      1. re: Gio

                        LOVE that website. Picked up the book there for 1.99! Gotta love it.

            2. Depending on what you want take a look at the books of Madhur Jaffrey.


              "Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking" covers more than India, but it is a treatise on Veggie cooking. And if you want meat curries most of her dishes are adaptable. After all it is the spice blends that make or break an Indian meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Paulustrious

                I know she's a leader in the field, trying to narrow it down to one, but may become two!

              2. For country French, you cannot go wrong with Richard Olney's Simple French Food. It's a classic. You might also consider Patricia Wells' At Home in Provence.

                For Mediterranean, I would go with Claudia Roden. Depending on the part of the mediterranean you are interested in, you could go either with Arabesque (foods of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon, and which is an outstanding book) or The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. If, when you think "mediterranean," you think of the European side of the sea, then you might want to go with Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking.

                17 Replies
                1. re: DanaB

                  I also like Arabesque and Olney. You might also want to look into Elizabeth David's books - Mediterranian Food , French Country Cooking, French Provincial Cooking. The first two are available in one volume, which also includes Summer Cooking, which is a lovely book.


                  I've recently discovered Edouard de Pomiane. His Cooking with Pomiane is delightful - don't know that they are country recipes per se, but they are simple-ish recipes - certainly not haute cuisine:


                  1. re: MMRuth

                    French country cooking is what I'm looking for. There was a popular cookbook out a few months ago about that and I can't remember the name of it. Anyone? Maybe it was Elizabeth David - I'll go look now.

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      Looking at the search I think the book might've been The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. Anyone have this one?

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        I'm not familiar with the Willan book - David's is a small book, and I haven't cooked from it, but have just read it cover to cover.

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          The book is "Country French Cooking" by Elizabeth David. Do a search on


                          1. re: billieboy

                            Actually, it is "French Country Cooking" - Kitchen Arts & Letters got me a new copy, but it was $20 as they ordered it from England. Looks I like I should be checking out more often for my purchases of older cookbook.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Yes, Abebooks is good. I got a mint mint mint copy of Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking in Canada...hardcover...for $20 including shipping. It was $150US on Amazon for the paperback.

                              1. re: billieboy

                                Well - I just bookmarked that site Billie. They beat Jessica's and Alibris by a mile. Many thanks.

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        I may be in the minority but I never fell in love with Elizabeth David. her directions have always seemed vague to me, tho good as descriptions of a food experience.. Then too, I find that her books are "dated" in the sense that they are based on ingredients available in England at the time they were written, rather than what we can find now. If you are interested in fully utilizing the range of mediterranean ingredeints we now have a writer like Wolfert would be preferable. I bought her original Mediterranean Cooling book many years ago (I now have the updated version also) and it has many, many wonderful recipes collected all around the mediterranean basin, spain, france italy, the balkans, greece as well as the mideast and north africa., and not necessarily focussed on slow layered dishes like her Slow Cooking and Southwest France Books. Highly recommended, as are all her books. Includes some fine "country french recipes" too,.

                        Similarly, Im not so hot on Roden tho I have not perused her most recent book. Some of the same sort of issues as with David (she really was the model for Britich cookery writers with her pared down recipe writing style) I own and used to read and use her original book quite a bit, but I like a number of other mideast books (including Wolfert's Food of the Eastern Mediterrranean) much better now.

                        Maybe this all boils down to whether you prefer precise analysis of methods and flavors and an intense reaching for the best (a la wolfert) or more of a relaxed summary recipe style a la David. How much you want the cook book author to bring to the table of the ultimate product and how mellow you are.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I used to feel the same way about David, but now that I've cooked for a lot more years, I've come, in the past months, to enjoy her style. I do believe that some of her books were updated after their initial publication to reflect the changing availability of products in the U.K. I don't remember when French Country Cooking was published, but my recollection also is that in many cases in the Mediterranean and Italian books, she actually included a lot of ingredients that were then not available in the U.K.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I think David is probably better for a comfortable, mature cook. Certainly the editions I bought 20 years ago would not reflect the range of produce and imported products we have here now in the US. this is more of a recipe formula issue than anything, because writers often decide to leave out unavailable agreements or sub (without telling you).

                            The fact is that technique usually would trump ingredients however for a cook like me who has time to cook only once or twice a week with no time to perfect a meltingly tender pot roast, say, AND who wants to cook all world cuisines instead of just a limited repetoire from one cuisine, writers that are obsessed perfectionistic researchers and analysts and generous sharers, who want to make sure that you experience the dish as they have experienced it/intended are what I am looking for. I think Julia Child would (for me) fill this niche better than David - Her Way to Cook book would be a good "country french" intro, I think.

                            On Indian, I think Jaffrey (Invitation to Indian Cooking) holds up really well and strikes a good balance in putting across delicious authentic Indian food in an accessible way. Ive not come across a single other Indian cookbook that I like better than this one

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              You make good points (as always). I taught myself to cook using The Way to Cook - and still refer to it quite often. Only in the past months - literally - have I started cooking sometimes without recipes, or from the more vague David recipes. In a way, the latter has made me more confident about my cooking, as I have to make certain judgement calls for myself.

                          2. re: jen kalb

                            I paged throught Roden's new book at the library today and it looks more attractive than the first book. I still think fine details matter and from that viewpoint there is still a distinct diff between a Roden type book and say Wolfert Eastern Mediterranean. The first is providing a survey of the cuisines, the latter a collection of particular recipes from the cuisines..If you want to make sure you have a recipe for tabbouleh and hoummous, for example, the survey would be better.

                        2. re: DanaB

                          If going with Roden, I'd say this: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food includes recipes from Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon - and much more. It's a comprehensive book that has greater breadth than Arabesque, but not as much depth in each of the (many) areas it covers as Arabesque has for its three cuisines.

                          For Indian, Madhur Jaffrey's An Invitation to Indian Cooking might be a good bet.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Going to order that one! I think my one of each may be thrown out the door!

                          2. re: DanaB

                            I love love love the food of Lebanon and Morocco - will take a look for sure!

                          3. Thanks y'all! Here's what I have ordered so far:
                            Mediterrean Cooking: Food of the Sun
                            French Country Cooking, E. David
                            The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

                            NOW: I've spent a fraction of the price I thought I was going to spend b/c of the excellent web sites you sent me. So I'll probably add two or three of the others recommended here. Thanks to all of you.