Friday, June 22, 2012

Koor-jet fahr-see

The other day I discovered a wonderful food blog by Veronica, a web developer living in the south of France: La recette du jour. One of the sections in the blog that I really like is the reviews of Veronica's favourite cookery books, including such treasures as Jane Grigson's Good things and Geraldene Holt's French country kitchen. I stumbled across this blog while checking out the different versions of Jane Grigson's famous curried parsnip soup recipe.

This got me thinking that maybe there could be an alternative approach - a blog about really awful cookery books.

I happen to have one of these in my collection, although I'm thankful to say I didn't buy it - it was passed on by a friend, complete with her original food stains. It is called The complete vegetarian cookbook, a 1976 version of a book originally published in 1973 with the title Cooking without meat. The editors didn't even bother to update the title in the introduction to the new 'edition', which is an indication of how cheaply it was produced.

In the style of its time it does not have lavish illustrations or an appealing cover, and is printed in three columns with occasional line drawing decorations in red. It includes two groups of colour plates, but there is no reference in any of the actual recipes to the existence of an illustration. The 'index' is simply a list of recipe titles, grouped by categories such as 'Pizza and flan dishes' and 'Vegetable dishes'.

But the most annoying thing about this book is its condescending attitude to the reader. For example 'Courgettes Farcies aux Amandes/Courgettes [zucchini] stuffed with almonds' has the following introduction:

An elegant vegetable dish, Courgettes Farcis aux Amandes (koor-jet fahr-see oh-zah-mohn) will really impress your guests.

If your guests aren't impressed by your cooking or food presentation skills, at least they will be blown away by your authentic French pronunciation.


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