Ginette Mathiot

A book review by Franz Scheurer


In order to be able to cook you first need to know how to eat. Then you need to learn the basic techniques and only after you master these can you expand your repertoire following your creativity. I KNOW HOW TO COOK, France’s best selling cookbook for three generations, will teach you the basic techniques and serve as a ‘bible’ for decades. It’s a book that is not just worth having, it’s a book that you must have.


First published in 1932 I KNOW HOW TO COOK has been regularly revised and updated and still is the customary gift for anyone setting up a new home. Finally it is available in English, thanks to the work of Clotilde Dusoulier.


The book opens with a quote from Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin: “People who know how to eat are ten years younger than those to whom that science is a mystery”. This sets the tone for the book.


The book is divided into:


Sauces & Basic Recipes


Milk, Eggs & Cheese






Vegetables & Salads

Pulses, Rice & Pasta


Milk & Egg Puddings


Cakes & Pastries

Sweets, Preserves & Drinks


There is also a section on Ginette’s cooking fundamentals and kitchen advice and menus by celebrated chefs. A decent index and a list of recipes guides you to the relevant section of the tome quickly, once you have digested its content.


This book deals with French home cooking and all the recipes are easily achievable but most cooks will be surprised how good some of these simple dishes taste. It really lays a terrific foundation for further experimentation and use of your imagination. Illustrations and photos help you understand some of the intricacies but in reality the text itself is probably clear enough. I love this book and would highly recommend it to anyone, from home cook to professional; there is a lot to learn and there are many inspirations inside that book.


The details in every section are astounding and you learn how to make Ravigotte Sauce, Eggs à la Myerbeer, Chestnut Soup, Skate, Veal in Aspic, Gayettes, Truffles in Champagne, Salsify and hundreds of similar less mainstream dishes as well as all the classics. If you’re into baking you will appreciate the comprehensive section on cakes and if you enjoy making your own preserves you will find all the necessary information in this book.

It really is a very comprehensive reference.


Published by Phaidon Press

ISBN 978 0 7148 4804 4

For more information go to Phaidon Press’ Web Site: www.phaidon.com