29 September 2012

The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells, Book review

Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN-10: 0060507829


No matter where you live, or how gloomy it may be outside, Patricia Wells will brighten your kitchen with the sunny flavors of France's bountiful south with The Provence Cookbook. A French-food expert and longtime Provence resident, Patricia offers readers an intimate guide to the culinary treasures of this sun-drenched landscape and dishes that will transport you and your guests with every flavorful bite. 

The Provence Cookbook's 175 enticing recipes reflect Patricia's long and close ties with the farmers and purveyors who provide her and her neighbors in Provence with a kaleidoscope of high-quality foods. Their year-round bounty is the inspiration for these exciting, healthful Mediterranean-French dishes,which Patricia shares with home cooks everywhere. 

Over the past twenty years, it is Patricia who has often been the student, learning Provencal ways and regional recipes directly from the locals. With The Provence Cookbook, her readers benefit from this rich inheritance, as she passes along such recipes as My Vegetable Man's Asparagus Flan, or Maussane Potter's Spaghetti. 

Along side authentic and flavorful dishes for every course from hors d'oeuvre to dessert, as well as pantry staples, The Provence Cookbook features eighty-eight of Patricia's artful black-and-white photographs of Provence's farmers, shopkeepers, and delightful products. More than a cookbook, this is also a complete guide and handbook to Provencal dining, with vendor profiles, restaurant and food shop recommendations and contact information, and twelve tempting menus -- delight in An August Dinner at Sunset or perhaps A Winter Truffle Feast. 

Whether you are a home cook, a traveler, or an armchair adventurer, enjoy Provence as the locals do, with Patricia Wells and The Provence Cookbook as your guides.

My thoughts:

There are few things in life my family and I enjoy more than cooking, reading and of course traveling! Wherever the wind takes us, I have continued the tradition of having a little spot in the garden with table and chairs to enjoy a well earned repast after a hard day's work! 
The simple joy of placing a tablecloth on the table, a few cut flowers in a small vase and a plate of dates, marinated olives, a loaf of crusty french bread and an assortment of cheeses makes us happy!

I have to credit however Mr. Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe and their (endearing) rendition in 'A Good Year' for bringing to mind the unique French Provencal smells of regional cuisine, the strolls around Aix en Provence, Arles, Avignon, St Remy de Provence and so on...
It has been a few years since my last stay but I can still feel the tremendous heat reflecting off the yellow stones, hear the cicadas and remember the richness of market days right after the glorious atmosphere of the Vendange or sitting on a bench under a canopy of Mimosas!

There is little I can say about Patricia Wells' 'The Provence cookbook' that would do it full justice! Even readers who have not had the opportunity to visit that part of the world will recognize the quality of her carefully selected recipes, tried and true. 

Betwixt these pages Patricia brings a part of the world renowned for its culinary delicacies and (whilst I sometime deplore the quality of ingredients or their availability here on the Pacific NW coast)  I never tire of trying to duplicate these wonderful recipes! 
Substitutions for certain items might of course be necessary but I would think an ingenious cook will delight in finding these alternatives whilst letting his/her family sample such items as Carpentras Multiseed bread, Fougasse or Sweet Tomato, Fennel and Orange sauce to name some of our favourites!

May I suggest you start with getting rid of that little plastic jar labelled 'Grated Parmesan' and instead purchase a good wedge of Real Parmesan and use a wand grater?
Fresh herbs and spices are readily available as well as good olive oil and let's not forget there are wonderful selections of wines even here in the West!

It will be noticed right from the beginning Patricia Wells does not stop at sharing well developed recipes but gives a select guide to markets, shoppes and eatery places in the region. Whilst this might meet with some skepticism on the part of some readers, let's remember that thanks to Internet browsing with many of these places now having their own websites, it might prove to be an excellent source of information. Then there's also the possibility that you might convince your family to schedule your next holiday in these very parts!

(Photo by PBH)

 At the very least you will enjoy reading about the many flavours of the Region whilst gaining an understanding for some of the incomparable appeal of life in the slow lane...An almost forgotten art these days!

Pastis anyone?

Bon appetit!

5 Stars!!

About the Author:

Patricia Wells is a teacher, a writer and a journalist with wonderful books to her credit! For more on her versatile culinary skills including workshop, blog reviews, shoppe etc...visit her website (here)

Note to readers: I was not asked to review this book and all opinions reflected are entirely my own!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds a good book! love the images you've shown.


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