The French Village Diaries: top Francophile book reviews – In a French Kitchen
We love discovering interesting new books on all things French. Lifestyle, cooking, travel – you name it, we’ll check it out. In this new series, Jacqui Brown reviews and shares her top picks when it comes to French-themed books. This week, she’s reviewing ‘In a French Kitchen’ by the professional chef, Susan Herrmann Loomis.
The books discuss how she found herself buying a derelict convent in the grounds of the church in the Norman town of Louviers and how she turned it into a beautiful family home and business.
In a French Kitchen: a narrated journey
Her latest book, In A French Kitchen, is a cookbook with 85 recipes, but it is a narrated journey too.
Susan takes us from one French kitchen to another via her recollections and recipes (as well as those of her French friends), learning the French way as we go. And covering everything from breakfasts, French bread, salads, main dishes, cheese, desserts, and more.
It was quite exciting to step back into her kitchen and read more about her home cooking experiences in France. Quite early on in the book she walks us around her French kitchen, which was described so beautifully I could visualise it all, and have to admit was rather jealous.
I am probably not the target market for this book as I live and cook regularly in France.
But even I learned a lot as I read it; small nuggets of information that I’ll take with me to enhance my vinaigrettes, enliven my salads, and balance my cheese board – among other things.
Break your food rut: real French cooking
Reading this book made me realise that I’m guilty of getting stuck in my favourite flavours and dishes, but Susan has given me lots of new ideas to try. And thankfully most of them are simple ones that aren’t going to leave me flustered or frustrated.
The recipes seemed easy to follow and were clearly explained, with measurements in metric and cups. And the cake I tried (Madame Korn’s Quick Lemon Cake) was delicious.
I loved the emphasis on seasonality and the month-by-month meal planning section will be something I dip into regularly for ideas and inspiration.
I also loved that an American has taught me that it is likely that Cheddar cheese was born when French stonemasons from the Auvergne (where the delicious and very Cheddary Cantal originates from) settled in Somerset after working in Scotland and began to make cheese.
This was certainly news to me, but as I fell upon Cantal when I first arrived in France as a Cheddar substitute. I can certainly believe it.
This book would be perfect for anyone who has an interest in the French way with food – and who enjoys cooking great tasting, real home meals.
Do you enjoy French home cooking? Which are your favourite recipes? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.
I have lived in a small and quirky French village since 2004 and am passionate about France and sharing my French village life, recipes inspired from my potager, French-themed book reviews, and author interviews. You'll find my blog here.
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