Provence is loved for its sunlit beauty and earthy, tantalizing cuisine. Both are celebrated in Provence the Beautiful Cookbook, an oversized (more than two feet tall!) picture and cookbook of breathtaking color photos and authentic regional recipes. The 270 recipes, compiled and written by award-winning food book author Richard Olney, include soups and starters; seafood, meat, game, and poultry dishes; vegetable and grain specialties; and simple but luscious desserts. Readers seeking an armchair tour of the region, singularly depicted, and the chance to see and reproduce its dishes, will delight in the book, which would also make a welcome gift.
Beginning with an introduction to the land and its cooking, the book then weaves short essays about the Provenšal regions with recipes arranged by courses. There are exemplary versions of bouillabaisse and bourride (the creamy, garlic-infused fish chowder), estouffade (braised beef, here with olives and mushrooms), daubs (stews), vegetable-filled omelets, and tians (savory gratins). Less familiar treasures include a mixed herb pasta from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, porgy with crab sauce from the Var, a braised stuffed lamb shoulder from Vaucluse, zucchini and rice gratin from the Alpes Maritimes, and dried figs in thyme and red wine syrup, also from the Var. The recipes reflect Olney's unerring palate and dedication to tradition; some cooks may find certain dishes beyond their reach, but all will discover approachable recipes that are easily made. Wine information and a glossary conclude the portrait of Provence and its table--a feast for the eye and palate alike. --Arthur Boehm [via]