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Mar 22, 2010 04:16 AM

good Nicoise cookbook recs?

I just got back from a trip to Nice, and I'd love to learn how to make some of the dishes I had there, but my cookbook collection has a giant hole where France should be. Does anyone ave any recommendations for a good cookbook on the cuisine of Nice (or southeast France in general)? Thanks!

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  1. A classic, Cuisine of the Sun, by Mireille Johnston:
    Buy this used from Amazon for a rockbottom price.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Great minds think alike! that was my first book of the region.

      Emmmily, also look for anything by Roger Verge. an iconic chef and teacher in the region, he has written several books with wonderful recipes -- that WORK!

      1. re: ChefJune

        June-is Roger Verge still with us? I had one of his books back in the 80's, a great big beautiful book. His restaurant in Mougins was one of the best at that time and I guess is still very highly rated.

      2. re: bushwickgirl

        +1! Love this book. The green beans with new potatoes and vinaigrette are fantastic. Wish I'd thought to bring the book with me abroad.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Just skimming through the index of that one is making me drool - and I can't argue with $1.51. Thanks!

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Cuisine of the Sun arrived this afternoon. Can't wait to give it a shot (probably this weekend, given my schedule).

          2. Definitely agree re: Roger Verge's books. Also recommend "Flavors of the Riviera" by Colman Andrews.

            1. Just bought Cuisine of the Sun, $4 incl shipping from Can't wait!

              1. All of the above are good, as is Patricia Wells's book on Southern French and Richard Olney's "Lulu's Provençal Table". The very first one I saw was also I believe the first to be translated into English; the author was a mayor of Nice, so of course the emphasis is all on Niçois cookery, not a bad thing at all. But speaking of bad things, though he was a hell of a cook he was also apparently a less than spotless politician and I think did some jail time. I just wish I could remember his name... I do very highly recommend the book. I don't have it, obviously, but I've gotten it from libraries.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  His name was Jacques Medecin, and his book on la Cuisine Nicoise is the definitive work on the subject. History, gastronomy, and great recipes. Although he was accused of many of the things you mentioned, he remains a beloved figure in Nice.

                  I loved living in Nice, and loved reading his books.

                  Another great classic is La Cuisine de Reparata.

                  Buy your books the next time you are in Nice. Many are also available at and

                  Bon Appetit!

                  1. re: Fleur

                    Médecin's book is a good survey of the dishes typical of the Comté, but the quality of the recipes, based on the two or three that I tried, is pretty poor for a late 20th Century cookbook. This is clearly not someone who spent a lot of time getting the proportions and timings correct. That said, I've only tried two or three recipes that I copied out of a library copy because there is no way I'm having his name on my bookshelf (he was thrown out of the most right-wing mainstream party in France for his open antisemitism).

                    For anyone who reads French, _La cuisine niçoise d'Hélène Barale : mes 106 recettes_ is the book I'd recommend. Unfortunately, I don't believe it's been translated to English.

                    1. re: tmso

                      Having relatives by marriage who changed the family name when they moved to France (ca. 1890) because of the entrenched, pervasive anti-Semitism there, I'll have to assume Our Jacques must have been a real humdinger. I do not think it is necessary to forgive him of that to appreciate his love for the food, however, and although many of his given recipes require corrections I must say that my own grandmother's do too. Medecin was not a professional cook; I'm sure he did his dishes on the spot and then tried to remember afterwards how much of what he'd put in and how long he'd cooked it. Lord knows I do that, and so did Grandma.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        I mentioned the recipes being poorly tested by late 20th Century standards, not because that makes the book worthless, but just as a warning so anyone who gets it knows what to expect. It's a lot more like late XIX, early XX century cookbooks in a way; the dishes are well selected and described, but don't expect the instructions to be better worked out than what your grandmother would tell you. If you're familiar with a cuisine, that's fine, but if you don't have a good intuition for it, that style can lead you into problems. All that said, I'm talking about the French edition, so it's possible that some of the problems (one dish asked for more than twice as many peppers as made any sense) were worked out in translation and when adapting the measurements for North America. Hélène Barale ran a restaurant, so you can pretty much blindly follow her recipes and the dish will come out right.

                        As for Médecin, you're right of course that his horrible failure as a human being doesn't affect his ability to recount the food of the Comté. As a cookbook, as long as one is aware that his recipes are not written with Swiss precision, it seems quite good. But personally, I have my cookbooks displayed prominently in my apartment, and there's no way that name is getting added to the list -- certainly not when I already have Barale's book on the shelf.

                        1. re: tmso

                          I have not seen the original French version of Medecin's book, but the English translation, and yes, the translator did run most or all of the recipes through her own sensibilities and/or kitchen. A few that she did not try - for instance, the un-refreshed salt cod roasted over a wood fire (!!) - she translated with cautionary comments.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            "un-refreshed salt cod roasted over a wood fire (!!) "


                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              Yup. She said something about its being strictly for the most hardcore tastes. I don't think it was even the regular boxed, moist kind, either, but stockfish, the kind that's like fish masonite!

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Mm, "hardcore" is a excellent description for the kind of taste one needs to eat salt cod prepared in that manner, overwhelmingly salty, smoky, with a decidedly firm bite!
                                I wonder what kind of sauce you'd serve with that...

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  Given the, ummm, ruggedness of the sort of people who are supposed to enjoy this, I doubt that "sauce" is even in their lexicon. I'm sure this is one of those Hard Necessity foods, meaning that salt fish can be carried around in one's pocket until dinnertime, then you build a fire, brush the lint and tobacco crumbs off... you get the picture.

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