The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Notes from the French Countryside
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The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Notes from the French Countryside

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The unique, award-winning cookbook—a collection of seasonal recipes from a traditional French garden.

The Cook and the Gardener is Amanda Hesser's first book. From the opening lines of its introduction, her literary gifts are as evident as her passion for good food. Since this work combines recipes with her essays about Monsieur Milbert (the gardener at the Chateau du Fey i...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published March 17th 1999 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Jen
Oct 30, 2008 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in food & seasons
Amanda Hesser writes a series of charming vignettes about life as the resident chef at a chateau in the French countryside. It's a little overly-cheery and static, but then it's not meant to be a commentary on French life, or a true exploration of characters. Its primary focus is on cooking, which is why I bought the book in the first place. Each month of the year has a corresponding chapter of recipes, with a great deal of in-depth instruction, some fantastic old-world cooking lore, and the rus...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
This is not a new cookbook (in fact, it's ten years old this year!) but it is my favorite! Amanda Hesser is a former New York Times food columnist and this book charts a year she spent with a farmer and his wife, learning to farm and cook. The book is divided up seasonally, and each season into months. Filled with great stories of her quirky hosts as well as recipes that have never once failed me. It is a book I return to again and again, even if just to while away a morning drinking coffee and...more
Wendy Feltham
This is a really lovely book that captures the author's experience working as a chef in Burgundy, and getting to know the elderly gardener who grew all the vegetables she cooked. Amanda Hesser carefully observes the passing of the seasons and the changes brought to the garden and her stove. I liked reading about each month, what vegetables were harvested, and how she used them in her cuisine. These days I read a lot of food blogs, and none are as well written as this book. I always like reading...more
Kathleen Cooper
This is one book that, the more I read, the more I disliked the author! She writes about her experience as a chef in the French country side and her relationship with the gardener and his wife. Sometimes she can be charming, but...sometimes she is annoying. I tried putting the book down and coming back to it, but after a few tries I decided that the problem was not in me, but in Amanda Hesser. Later on, I read John Thorne's review of the book and was relieved to discover that he felt the same wa...more
Ani
Nov 04, 2009 Ani rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Foodies
I could see why Hesser is compared to M.K. Fisher. Her earlier style was very Fisher esque. I enjoyed cooking for Mr. Latte more. I don't think the author found her style yet with this book. I felt it was more of a cook book. I was having a difficult time following her story about the gardner. Though I do understand that most people who eat do not realize there is a farmer who had raised whatever they are eating on their plate.
Lisa Airey
This book was so delectable that I had to purposefully slow myself down in order to savor it more fully. The book is part novel, part gardening treatise, part cookbook. The story begins in March. The reader should also! Follow the book along with the seasons and cook the recipes provided (the peach pie is the BEST you will ever, ever eat). A fabulous read. Don't pick it up if you are hungry. On second thought, do! It is inspiring.
Kerith
I started this with some disappointment -- I had thought it was a book of food essays and not a cookbook format, but then it turned out to have so much writing about food in it that I was happily surprised. I especially enjoyed the seasonal aspect to it, and just read straight through, taking in the recipes as I went. A beautiful book for cooks, gardeners, and those who love to eat good food.
Carla Jean
Apr 14, 2009 Carla Jean marked it as to-read
I loved Cooking for Mr. Latte, and was super excited to find this one on the shelf at The Strand in 2007. However, I have yet to read it all the way through. I'm attempting to do so now by reading it month by month. The book starts in March, not January, so my reading will be a bit convoluted, but I'm looking forward to it and to taking it into the kitchen.
Claire
I haven't tried the recipes yet, but most of them look great. Nice recollection of the author's year serving as a cook in Burgundy, her evolving relationship with a rather cantankerous but gifted gardener. This book is a good reminder of how much we miss by not being as connected to our food (planting and harvesting it, preparing it).
Kay Wright
A glorious description of a young cook's experience in France, especially her relationship with the gardener who provides her raw material. Anyone serious about cooking has probably already read it but it was wonderful even if I came late to the table. Full of wonderful recipies I'll never make but loved reading.
Jennifer Schooley
While the prose is an extra feature, to me, the real value of the book is in the recipes. All I have tried have been wonderful. There are several simple, basic recipes, as well as more involved ones. They are organized by season and month. I have referred to this cookbook often over the years.
Marybo
One of my all time favorites - not so much for the recipes but for the writing, the gardening and reading about the food. I pull this off my bookshelf with every change of the seasons. It inspired me to garden and think differently about food and the turning of the seasons.
Carla
I'm reading this for the gardening portions not the cooking part. I skip over the recipes. The "Cook" is the narrator- a cook at a large villa in France. She has to have frequent interactions with the crusty French gardener and gives many descriptions of his methods.
Ria
Almost a book of hours for devotees of France, Burgundy, cooking and gardening. This beautifully presented book deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Colette's Earthly Paradise and is one I will be dipping into for some time.
Cathy
Young American cook meets old French gardener. Respect slowly develops. More for reading than for cooking inspiration, given the butter and cream involved (isn't that usually the case?)

I'm dipping in month by month, for seasonality.
Samantha
I checked this one out of the library to see if I liked it before buying it. I bought it before I even finished reading it. It's a delightful read with all sorts of great french recipe's straight from the garden. Lovely!
KellyK
this is whimsically romantic in the french countryside. I love how the author has to befriend the grumpy gardener. She has fantastic recipies and observations. Great book-almost more of a memoir than anything. I love it.
John'alee
I've read this book more than once. Amanda Hesser is a great writer.
She tells of living in France and having to go out each day to get produce from the stubborn old gardener who ends up being her friend in the end.
Stephanie
I found this title on the Cooked Books blog (all things culinary at the New York Public Library). It is the "Desert Island" selection of NYPL's Rare Books Librarian, Jessica Pigza.
Kate
This is an excellent cookbook. We use this at home all the time. Highly reccommended, esp. if you are trying to eat seasonally. The memoir is amusing, as well.
Madame Sucre
Relaxing book about gardening , burgundy and cooking ..the recipes are not that easy & kind of boring .
Catherine Woodman
great cookbook full of gardening thoughts on food--a nice change of pace
Barbara (BJ) Barrett
This was a really fun book to read! I highly recommend it
Lisa
Jun 12, 2010 Lisa marked it as to-read
Shelves: food
found while browsing a bookstore.
Katy Sammons
A cookbook to READ.
Susmita Dutta
Susmita Dutta marked it as to-read
Jul 10, 2014
Lily
Lily marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2014
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Amanda Hesser has been a food columnist and editor at the New York Times for more than a decade. She is the author of the award-winning Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Hesser is also the co-founder of food52.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Tad Friend, and their two children.
More about Amanda Hesser...
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours

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