Cookbooks / France

French Regional Cooking by Jean Ferniot

French Regional Cooking – Introduction

French Regional Cooking teeters on the edge of being a “coffee table book” but is dragged back by having detailed recipes for many of France’s best dishes from across the country, with some of the more remote areas being well-represented. It was first published in French in 1991 and the English language version was released in 1991.

First, a word about the author. The Foreword to the book by Michel Genin provides some background:

Jean Ferniot has followed in the footsteps of his great predecessor, Curnonsky, visiting every region of France to sample its products, cooking, and wines. The regional recipes in this book have been collected from local cooks who share hismlifelong fascination for the French regional cooking heritage and his delight in good food and gastronomic scholarship.

In this introduction to French Regional Cooking, Ferniot is assigned large shoes to fill when compared with the larger-than-life Curnonsky (whose real name was Maurice Saillard) who was known for his prodigious appetite for both food and wine and for his writing about food including the 1953 publication Larousse Traditional French Cooking.

Ferniot was born in 1918 and seemed to throw himself whole-heartedly into every venture he attempted. He served in World War 2 and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery. After the war he became a journalist working for a series of newspapers in France writing about politics and food. He died in 2012.

Unlike the book by Anne Willan which covered France by food topic rather than region (see Country Cooking of France in the Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks), French Regional Cooking is divided into regions. There is an introduction to each region with some excellent photographs and descriptions of the culture of the region in which the food and the rituals surrounding the eating and drinking plays such an important part.

Each region (there are 8 – North, East, West, Atlantic Coast, Alpine East, The Massif Central, South – Mediterranean Coast, and the Southwest and the Pyrenees) is represented as a separate section. There is also a chapter on the wines of France by a different author.

When we look through a book that addresses the regional food of France we have a few dishes in mind that we think represent those regions. Such dishes include Garbure from the Basque region in South-West France, Aligot from the Aveyron, Rillons from the Loire, Caillettes from Provence and so on.

In fact, we were excited to see a recipe for Estofinado in the Auvergne region in the wider Massif Central section of the book. This stockfish dish is normally only every discussed when talking about Niçoise cuisine.

The Massif Central region is also represented by Soup aux Choux, the very rich Omelette Brayaude (cheese, ham and potato omelet), Farcidure (a delicious local potato cake), Falette (stuffed, rolled veal breast from the local cattle) and, of course Choux Farci, Aligot and Clafoutis that are endemic in this region.

Every region, in fact, is thoroughly covered with excellent recipes making this book one of the best we have in our library for the regions of France.

French Regional Cooking has earned its place in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks list.

You can order this book from Amazon by clicking on the link below:

French Regional Cooking by Jean Ferniot

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