Sunday, March 21, 2021

À Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way


À Table is a style guide with recipes developed and presented by Rebekah Peppler. Due out 6th April 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 304 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a lushly illustrated book on a practical subject (food and the social aspects of eating and sharing food) which has a truly renaissance artistic sensibility. Every single illustration is a feast with lighting and scene, arrangement, color, and presentation carefully controlled (but looking beautiful and spontaneous). 

The text is rich in small details and the author is a meticulous and knowledgeable expert both with writing and with advice for cooking and entertaining. Despite being a book with an artistic sensibility and soul, it's well laid out and presented and accessible. Information is easy to find and logically arranged. The book is divided into sections with respect to an extended meal and the information is grouped by pre-dinner aperitifs and drinks, the actual mealtime, and postprandial snacks and drinks. The recipes themselves contain a description, ingredients listed bullet-style in a sidebar (measures in both American standard and metric, yay!), and step by step instructions. Serving sizes are given in general terms as well as tips and alternative presentations. The book doesn't include nutritional information (it's just not that kind of book). Recipe ingredients include some specialties which might be challenging outside of very well stocked boutique grocers and alcohol suppliers. On the whole, however, the recipes really *do* seem achievable by the average cook who is determined.

The photography is abundant and full of the sort of classic French architecture and urban rooms with high ceilings and classic decor (filled with beautiful people) which always leave me breathless. This would make a nice coffee table book. I recommend it highly to readers interested in putting some polish and finesse into entertaining graciously and well. 

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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