Originally published in 1930 and still humming along as useful as ever, this modestly sized book is packed with easy weeknight meals, frank advice, and personality. Eduoard de Pomiane, the son of emigrees from Poland, became more French than the French over the course of a long career in food that included what may have been the first radio program about cooking and more than twenty books. His quickly prepared meals occasionally take advantage of conveniences such as canned vegetables and stock cubes, but they are more often deft pieces of organization and realism.
“The first thing you must do when you get home, before you take off your coat, is go to the kitchen and light the stove,” he writes. Next you’ll put a pot of water on to boil. “What’s the water for? I don’t know, but it’s bound to be good for something, whether in preparing your meal or just in making coffee.” Elsewhere, on hors d’oeuvres, he notes “You won’t be able to make complicated hors d’oeuvres. You have no right to, since you don’t have the time.” And on white sauce: “This is horrible sauce. Fortunately, you can add whatever you like to it and transform it into a very nice one.”
The recipes here are indeed simple and for the most part not surprising. They’re almost not the point. Dipping into this book is like being reminded of all the smart kitchen shortcuts you’ve ever known but tend to forget at the moment you need them most.
Line illustrations. Paperback