Hows and Whys of French Cooking


by Alma S. Lach, University of Chicago Press, 1974. Hardback with DJ, 604 pages. Foreword by André Simon. It’s remarkable that any book for an American audience on French cooking got any traction at all after the publication of St. Julia’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," but Alma’s did. The reason, I believe, is because of the title, especially the “hows and whys” part. Julia wrote “do this” and Lach “do this because….”

This is an updated and expanded version of her "Cooking å le Cordon Bleu," published in 1970. Writes the estimable if elderly Simon, a major culinary and wine writer of the post WWII era, “Cookery books published in the course of my long life may be beyond count, but very few of them were like this one, beyond praise!”

It is remarkable on first glance that this book was rediscovered and republished in 1998, but it makes sense that it has: people want to learn the logic behind cooking techniques, and Lach provides it. She should know: she was one of the first women to graduate with a Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, back in 1956. This, however, is the original edition book.

Lach now has to be in her ‘80s, but she has a website, Two place-keeping ribbons. Slight wear at extremities. VG+/VG.

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