Trish Deseine has written a cookbook that proclaims French home cooking to be still the best in the World. I would rather say that the best French cooking can be found in French homes, and Nobody Does It Better gives recipes for some of the finest.
This book is one of the most faithful representations of how ordinary French people eat. It is also true to say that ordinary French people don’t eat like this every day, as supermarket aisles of ready meals and frozen pizza will testify. However, the French do take an interest and pride in food in general and most housewives can turn their hands to at least a dozen classic dishes.
The chapter headings give a good insight into the character of the French family cook: Shops Wisely, Knows Her Classics, Steals From Chefs, Rises to the Occasion. It would be good advice for anyone.
Nobody Does It Better is an impressive volume of lovely, for the most part traditional, recipes that you would have enjoyed whilst in France. There is also a nice sprinkling of newer recipes that are now popular in France and southern Europe. It’s a culinary snap-shot of real French food now, and not an outdated list of Escoffier-penned masterpieces.
Yes, the French DO eat frog’s legs and escargots but not every week. There is the classic recipe for Snails with Garlic and Parsley Butter. “Yuck”, I hear you cry! Well, have you tried it? No, I thought not. The snails don’t taste nasty at all and they are really only there to provide the lumps in the garlic butter.
OK, I have teased you enough, I can tell you that there’s more familiar fare like Onion Soup, with cheesy bread floating on top; Duck in Orange would tempt you, I’m sure, and Boeuf Bourguignon is a crowd pleaser whichever side of the Channel you hail from.
I am very taken by this cookbook. I wouldn’t change any of these recipes. There isn’t much I would add and there is nothing here that I would want to miss out. Each dish would be familiar to a French housewife, who would be surprised and pleased to see such a collection in English. But it’s taken an Irish lass to do it!
Nobody Does It Better
Author: Trish Deseine
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018