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French Provincial Cooking

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 ratings  ·  33 reviews
First published in 1962, Elizabeth David's culinary odyssey through provincial France forever changed the way we think about food. With elegant simplicity, David explores the authentic flavors and textures of time-honored cuisines from such provinces as Alsace, Provence, Brittany, and the Savoie. Full of cooking ideas and recipes, French Provincial Cooking is a scholarly y ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1960)
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4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,840 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I grew up reading through cookbooks as if they were novels. I spent a lot of time in my Seattle grandmother's kitchen, or my family's kitchen, sitting on the floor and reading cookbooks and looking at pictures (when I wasn't doing sous chef duties). Cooking or baking occurred throughout these times, as did conversation on many topics, but the cookbook in my lap always had a lot of my attention. I still read them like novels.

I learned to cook and bake through osmosis - watching and helping and ea
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: cooking, travel
Elizabeth David is the british equivalent of Julia Childs. They were both exploring French cuisine while living as expats in France during the 1950's (David also lived in Italy, and Greece). She gathered traditional french provincial (think simple) recipes back to England. This book, published in 1960, had the same revolutionary effect on english cooking that Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking had on american.

It is a fun read and the recipes are quite good. The recipes are not what we'r
Patrick Lassalle
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent cookery book, filled with recipes and flavours that to this day still haunt my palette.

I've eaten most of the original recipes contained in this volume, all of these cooked for my family by Elizabeth David herself when I was four years old. We were her test subjects at the time, gladly helping her to check the size of the portions. Back then, we were living in post Second World War poverty in Sandwich near Ham, Kent. Most of the time our food was dull, boring and scarce. In
Denise Romeo
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Lengthy coverage of all things edible in Europe by the definitive British food journalist Elizabeth David. Read more at
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
love her aristocratic style, curt, take no prisoners. she assumes you know the basics and would not deign to describe how to chop an onion. has no use for 'chefs' it is after all just cookery. the inclusion of excerpts of other writers, some of them very old, is delightful. and yes, the recipes are great.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
hm, her writing about food and experience is amazing, her insights about packing the piehole--oh what joy! but unfortunately this person is, ahem, of her times and extraordinarily racist and classist. total fader, babes.
Jason Goodwin
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
I think this was the book that taught me how to cook. It's opinionated, dirigiste, superbly written and selected, and if curse all the recipes not only work - they take you off to a France that went out when a DS was a very sexy car, not a games console.

Lyn Elliott
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking, france
A classic which I still go back to from time to time.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh, what a delight to read! You can practically taste the food as you read the words. I've bookmarked a few recipes to try, as well.
Shane C
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
the book is so original!!!
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who want to learn about France
I’ve needed a new copy of this book for some years now; the spine of the book I own has more than cracked; it has entirely separated down its length into two halves; facilitating a number of the bolder pages to detach and rashly make their individual bids for freedom. Two elastic bands tentatively hold all together. But for how much longer?

This is one of the books which taught me how to hunt through the London markets of Covent Garden and Leadenhall, and how to cook what I found there. Why was I
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the best French cookbook ever written in English. David, an Englishwoman, provided an introspection into French country cooking before Julia Child captured America's heart with it—in fact, as I understand it, David was an inspiration to Child. There's not a bunch of fancy color photos here, instead, you'll find mainly pen-and-ink line drawings, but there's a wealth of text, good recipes, and pithy details on how and why things were done the way they were in provincial France. Remember, ...more
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Before my French provincial mother passed away, I forgot to ask her to pass on the recipe for a particularly delicious chocolate cake that she would sometimes make. I thought this cake was lost for all eternity until I stumbled upon it in this book.

One of the few cookbooks that contains recipes for dishes that aren't particularly great, but allow you to dispose of glut fruits and vegetables. Invaluable if you get a veg box delivered!

Worth reading as literature even if you aren't planning a meal.
Excellent cookbook. My favorite kind, with no pictures except a few line drawings. Good receipes, cooking techniques (both specific to said recepies and general), and food theory. The only useless (to me) parts were a lot of commentary on the post-war availability of various ingredients in France and England - which is probably not accurate in 2012.
Feb 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing

If you care about food, hunger for authenticity and context, and you're not afraid of a little ambiguity, you owe it to yourself to read Elizabeth David's Italian Food and French Provincal Cooking. Elizabeth David's books, along with Richard Olney's Simple French Food, were the inspirations behind Chez Panisse and indirectly helped to spark America's interest in what it puts in its mouth.
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth David is credited with revolutionizing the way England cooked and ate, championing simple food made with fresh ingredients and lovingly prepared. In French Provincial Cooking, she takes her readers through a culinary tour of the provinces of France, presenting both the history of and recipes for some of France's most famous dishes.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
A classic, and yet.....
David is a great writer which makes the bias and dated aspects of the text all the more difficult to bear. It is a crystalized moment in time, when the Anglo-American middle class finally recovered psychically from World War II food rationing. A cookbook, it ain't.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As with most of her books you can read it not just as a cookbook but as a good read. I have several editions of this including an early paperback. The current edition is about 2 1/2 times the size and 3 times the thickness, why?
Ann Redmond
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book in the mid-1970's and still refer to it. It transcends food trends with its basic understanding of what "simple", good cooking is.
Steve Bennett
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
A book to admire from a behaviour changing writer, haven't used a single recipe from it 'though.
Paulo Sebastiao
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked the cultural references in the book and how Elizabeth David writes. I must confess that I skimmed through the recipes though.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, 2017
" the peaceful kitchen task of concocting the beautiful shining golden ointment which is mayonnaise." How can one not love a book with phrases like that?
Linn Steward
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love Elizabeth David's food books and this one is probably my favorite.
Karen Stone
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
learnt to cook french food from this book
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. Love this one.
Apr 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
I just could not get into this one, I tried several times and nope. Can't read it.
Rob Shurmer
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-wine
worth the price for the section on sauces alone
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
Fun to read and great recipes.
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book takes you into the French countryside in the 1950's. It is a joy to discover recipes and anecdotes written about food by this wonderful writer.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Elizabeth David writes like an angel.
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food 1 2 Nov 30, 2012 05:27PM  
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Born Elizabeth Gwynne, she was of mixed English and Irish ancestry, and came from a rather grand background, growing up in the 17th-century Sussex manor house, Wootton Manor. Her parents were Rupert Gwynne, Conservative MP for Eastbourne, and the Hon. Stella Ridley, who came from a distinguished Northumberland family. They had three other daughters.

She studied Literature and History at the Sorbonn