A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
THE best Provencal cookery books are well illustrated because food in Provence is an art and the way it looks, drizzled with oil on the plate or gleaming in the sun at a market, is part of its appeal. ProvenceCookerySchool:Shop, CookandEatLikeaLocal by Gui Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine (Dorling Kindersley, $49.95) fits the bill. More than 100 regional recipes are organised according to the days, reflecting the progress of a single week at the cookery school. Moine runs the school and Gedda, a venerablelooking man with a neat grey moustache and usually, here, with a bunch of herbs pressed to his nose or a spoon at his lips, is the chef.
Tuesday begins with a visit to an outdoor food market. There are tips on how to spot the best locally grown produce: looking, smelling, touching. But first: ‘‘ Get up early.’’
Ingredients and preparation are explained step by step and pictured clearly: infusing rosemary for a lamb stew (with honey and rose wine in this recipe), preparing artichokes, stuffing chicken legs.
This is the rustic food of the region: pissaladiere (onion and olive tart), fresh broad bean soup, daube de boeuf (cooked for at least three hours and left overnight), pork with sage, peach cake; and necessities such as rouille (saffron mayonnaise stirred into bouillabaisse or spread on croutons), tapenade and fougasse.
BeyondNosetoTail:AKindofBritishCooking PartII by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly (Bloomsbury, distributed by Allen & Unwin, $45) provides a surreal, cold-climate contrast to Provence.
Henderson is the cultish chef at St John restaurant in London and this is the sequel to his earlier book, NosetoTailEating. In small-format hardback, it is an arty production for a very earthy, workers’ cuisine of England past. Henderson is part of the movement to resurrect this style of food and to bring back eating the whole animal.
There are many intriguing recipes and the book is a pleasure in itself, but I’m afraid snail, trotter, sausage and chickpeas won’t ‘‘ bring comfort’’ to me on a cold day, as the chef believes. I’m sorry to say, there is even a recipe for braised squirrel.
But Gellatly, head baker and pastry chef at St John and its sister restaurant St John Bread and Wine, who has joined Henderson in his new book, adds his sweeter skills with breads, twists on traditional puddings, ice creams and cakes, including brown bread and armagnac ice cream.
There is an excellent clutch of pages on sourdough bread recipes, and their ‘‘ mother’’ and how to make it. (The mother is used in sourdough breads in place of commercial yeasts, and here is made from a mix of flours, water, yoghurt and a stick of rhubarb.)
It is an eccentric book and the design is very tongue-in-cheek (though I hesitate to use either of those descriptions); one of the photographs is of a chef with a meringue crown on her head, next to the recipe for the classic queen of puddings. Judith Elen