French cuisine

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Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. �I Know How to Cook.� That's the name of a new cook book that hit US stores this month. The original version is in French. In fact it's considered by some to be France's cooking bible. Accordingly just about every household in France has a copy of �Je Sais Cuisiner.� Now 77 years after its first publication it's been translated for the first time. A literal translation, �I Know How to Cook.� And Clotilde Dusoulier you adapted it for English and you said you were very literal in the adaptation. Does that mean that you've kept such classics such boiled veal tongue for readers in the US?

CLOTILDE DUSOULIER: We have although that is just a fraction of what the book is about. The book is very much a reference book on how to cook classic French dishes. So from the most basic vegetable meat and fish dishes to things that are a little more unusual such as innards and awful parts but that's really more anecdotal I would say on the scale of the book which includes 1400 recipes.

WERMAN: Right. And many quite accessible. A few obscure but most quite accessible. And I should say beautifully designed with colored photographs. A big difference, a far cry, from the very grey original �Je Sais Cuisiner.�

DUSOULIER: It's true that the French version is very much a paperback style kind of book that people keep on top of their fridge and don't really think of as a glamorously designed book but still one that serves its purpose beautifully.

WERMAN: Right. Now I don't want to harp on those kind of odd dishes that we just talked about. But this morning we called a local grocery store here in Boston that's considered you know fairly sophisticated and I asked them if they had a few of the things that you mentioned in your book. I asked them for teal, squab, and veal tongue. And they didn't have any of them. They didn't know what teal was. So if that butcher from a fairly sophisticated meat department doesn't really know what teal is where does one find teal?

DUSOULIER: Yeah I should say that the animals that you mentioned are game birds so you would not be buying them from any butcher shop. It's more the kind of animals that you might get if you live in a place where those animals do live and you have a hunter who can provide them for you. Then you would turn to Ginette Mathiot for advice on how to cook it.

WERMAN: Right Ginette Mathiot wrote the original one, �Je Sais Cuisiner.�


WERMAN: Well in France I mean how relevant is the original �Je Sais Cuisiner?� You know if you're just graduating from College today and you don't really know much about cooking. I mean are you going to always refer to this particular cook book.

DUSOULIER: In France it's very much the kind of book that the parents might give their child when he or she leaves the parent's home. It's used very much as a reference book. For instance you want to make a roast and you just want to know how to cook it. You know for how long and how you should prepare it. The kind of side dish that you might serve it with. So it's a very practical oriented book.

WERMAN� Clotilde what are some of your favorite recipes in this book?

DUSOULIER: Well there are 1400 so it's very hard to name favorites. For instance I like the gouzer which are the cheese puffs.

WERMAN: Yeah I love those.

DUSOULIER: I like them because first of all they are very, very good. Also they're not that hard to make and they really make an impression because not everyone knows how to make patachou, the pastry dough that goes into those. But it's really very simple.

WERMAN: Right. And when you get it right and you get that gruyere. Like right in the middle you've got this fantastic combination of kind of crunchy and soft on the inside. It's so good.

DUSOULIER: And lightly creamy. Yeah it is very good.

WERMAN: Julia Child's classic, �Mastering the Art of French Cooking� has just been reissued. I'm wondering how your adaptation of Ginette Mathiot's book compares with Julia Child's classic.

DUSOULIER: The big difference between Julia Child's book and Ginette Mathiot's book is that Julia Child had a professional culinary training so her repertoire of recipes were very much chef recipes with all the technique and the sophistication that that entails. Whereas Ginette Mathiot, she was a home economics teacher, so in her book she takes home-style recipes and tries to teach them to home cooks. So they're a lot simpler and in my opinion less intimidating.

WERMAN: Say I'm trying to impress some guests and I want to cook something that's totally French but doesn't take a lot of effort and is fairly easy. What would you recommend from this book?

DUSOULIER: Well I have one dish that I plan to make for friends who are coming to dinner on Saturday and it's called Lamb Shoulder Provencal. And it's a stuffed and rolled lamb shoulder. So you basically make a meat stuffing with herbs that you spread on the lamb shoulder. You roll it up, tie it up, with string which is always impressive for some reason. And then you baste it for two and a half hours. It's a very simple but rather impressive dish.

WERMAN: I like that. That the secret to all impressive cooking is string. It makes life very simple for me.


WERMAN: I've got to say I often feel inferior to the French when it comes to cooking just like at home. Throw me a bone here. How many nights a week do you do takeout?

DUSOULIER: Well Paris is not very takeout friendly. Just because a few restaurants actually offer takeout. But we eat out a couple of nights a week I would say.

WERMAN: Okay I can live with that. Clotilde Dusoulier, editor and author of the English adaptation of the French classic �Je Sais Cuisiner� now in English as �I Know How to Cook.� Bon appetite and thank you.

DUSOULIER: Thank you very much.