Cookbooks

Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard

Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard is one of our favourite and most cherished cookbooks from the 1970s when the Cuisine Minceur craze was sweeping the Western world.

We think it deserves a place in the Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks as it changed the mindset of a generation of chefs just as Rene Redzepi did a generation later.

Michael Guérard eschewed the use of fat and encouraged us to eat really well without the unhealthy 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 was 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.

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