La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, translated by Paul Aratow: Cookbook review Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange by Evelyn Sainte-Ange

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Madame E. Saint-Ange is an enigma. Little has been written about her in the English language and we can find very few accounts of her life in the French language either, although it is clear that she was a French woman by the name of Marie Ebrard who, for many years, wrote a cooking column for the magazine Le Pot au Feu.
La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange is a beloved classic of the French cooking literature. We are lucky that Chez Panisse co-founder and lover of all things French, Paul Aratow, decided to take on the mammoth and exacting task of translating her extraordinary work into English.
Other cookbook authors who have credited Marie Ebrard as an influence are Madeleine Kamman and Julia Child.
Madame Sainte-Ange published her book in 1927 and it quickly became an institution throughout France much like Pellegrino Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking or Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion.
One of our complaints about translations and adaptations of cookbooks is that they often 'dumb down' the author's intentions. Or, worse still, they ravage the recipes seeking to provide modern home cooks with the so-called nirvana of 'three ingredients and three minutes of preparation". This inevitably turns the book into irrelevant pap.
Paul Aratow has avoided this and has fairly faithfully transmitted the tone and intention of the author across the language barrier. He has bravely and correctly resisted the pressure to transform the book into a set of sterile recipes for the modern microwave.
So, enjoy the imperious Madame Saint-Ange and adapt her recipes with care and cleverness and you will have a much, much more satisfying experience than you will from one of those instant recipe books that are so popular now.
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