The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection
Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard
Michel Guérard was a pioneer of modern French cuisine. When the wave of Cuisine Minceur began to wash over France and the rest of the world he was a key player in the movement. In fact, his book, Cuisine Minceur became a cult item among foodies at the time and is still as relevant and interesting today. Since those heady days, Guérard has been running his restaurant (which gained three Michelin stars in 1977) and guest house at Eugénie les-Bains in the south-west of France and maintaining his reputation as one of France's leading chefs.
Oh, how we all loved this French cookbook when it was launched upon a receptive audience in the nineteen seventies!
Michael Guérard eschewed the use of fat and encouraged us to eat really well without the sinful bits. But the recipes were exciting and accessible even if exacting.
We had to make sure that we used .25 of a teaspoon and not .5 of a teaspoon. But the fresh tomato soup with pounded basil was a revelation. The use of arachide oil and fromage blanc exciting for the time, thus making the Aubergine Caviar recipe one to treasure.
One of the most emblematic recipes of the time was the crab salad with grapefruit - it heralded the onslaught of new flavour combinations. The combination of crab meat, green beans asparagus, grapefruit, radicchio and chervil was as radical as Che Guevara’s plans for South America.
With the stewed shin of veal with orange sauce Guérard combines the ideas of Cuisine Minceur with the preparation style used for daubes in Provence along with the flavour combinations well known in Italy for the classic Osso Buco. A lesson we took from this recipe (and which we have incorporated into our Provencale daube recipe) is the use of vegetables and spices to marinate meat and then discarding the vegetables and spices before cooking the meat.
Guérard gave rise to a generation of bad copycats and a few clever chefs who took some of his ideas and adapted them to create a more modern French cuisine.
We can only be thankful for his contribution and to the excitement caused by the release of his book. Still well-worth a read.