Published in the United States in 1974 but long out of print, Fernand Point's engaging cookbook, Ma Gastronomie, will see a new, and wonderful, edition released by The Rookery Press on Thursday. Both Thomas Keller, who offers a foreword, and Charlie Trotter cite this book as the cookbook that most influenced them as young cooks. The book is half stories, half recipes from Point's famous restraurant, La Pyramide, a place that spawned the generation of chefs who would introduce nouvelle cuisine to the world, Bocuse and his band. The recipes are in my favorite form, simple paragraphs of general description ("Ecrivesse Cardinalisees: Prepare and reduce a court bouillon of dry white wine, onions, shallots, carrots, salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, parsley and cloves. Add the crayfish and cook, covered, over hight heat in the court-bouillon." That's it.)
But the best parts of the book are the stories of Point himself and his words, which were truly what inspired Trotter and Keller.
—As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain, in the end, just a little bit!
—Butter! Give me butter! Always butter!
—A good cuisinier never dirties his apron outside work.
—Chickens must spend four or five days in the refrigerator, never the freezer, after having been killed.
—Before judging a thin man, one must get some information. Perhaps he was once fat.
—The taste of walnut oil goes very well with red wine.
—A good apprentice cook must be as polite with the dishwasher as with the chef.
—Success is the sum of a lot of little things done correctly.
—The duty of a good cuisinier is to transmit to the generations who will replace him, everything he has learned and experienced.
—I have been so well nurtured throughout my life that I’m sure to die completely cured.
Not a book for the thirty minute meals crowd but a must for chefs and restaurateurs. I highly recommend it.