french – A book review
By Franz Scheurer
Cookbooks come and go. They’re the newest, hottest thing one week and walk out the door, then most of them spend a dark, lonely life in a bookcase. Every now and then though, a cookbook comes along that slowly becomes an old friend. Dog eared, fat splattered, familiar and comforting, it is consulted for inspiration, for advice and sometimes simply for making you feel good, managing to put a smile on your face.
Damien Pignolet’s ‘french’ will be such a book.
I have always admired Damien’s comprehensive knowledge, his inability to compromise and his dogged determination for perfection. I’ve also always admired the man, an island of calm amidst modern, time-starved madness. Damien is a ‘big picture man’ without ever losing sight of the tiniest details, and this is reflected in his book.
‘french’ will give you an overview of French cuisine and what it stands for, its quirks and its intricacies. It will educate you, teach you technique and most importantly, it will make you salivate whilst instilling passion. Now that has to be a good thing!
The book is divided into:
Stocks & Sauces
Pasta, Risotto & Polenta
Poultry & Game
Fish & Shellfish
The Pastry Kitchen
It ends with a comprehensive glossary of ingredients, equipment and techniques.
Earl Carter’s photography is wonderful and totally appropriate to the fare. It serves the reader in being instructive and caresses the eye with artistic flair. The book is printed on terrific stock, perfectly bound (no short-cuts here, either) and will last a lifetime… and it will need to. I reckon it will never be far from the stove in any serious cook’s home. Damien’s research is painstakingly methodical and his text is as accurate as humanly possible and most importantly, the recipes work.
I thoroughly recommend this cookbook. It’s bloody marvellous. Spoil yourself or buy it for someone close to you. It will be a fabulous gift.
To quote Damien: ‘In a world where everything has to happen instantly, I am pleased to offer you a manual for cooking slowly and carefully. My hope is that my book will bring something of a traditional craft of French cooking to all who love to cook’.
ISBN 1 920989 17 X
First published by Lantern, an imprint of Penguin Group (Australia), 2005