The Skinny French Kitchen

The Skinny French Kitchen
By Harry Eastwood
Bantam Press – £20.00

Ever wondered why there aren’t that many fat French women?

Or why, when le palate is of paramount importance throughout France, that French women simply refuse to resemble a small tenement building (unlike so many of their les anglais counterparts)?

Might it have something to do with the fact young teenage French girls are simply incapable of drinking seven hundred pints of snakebite of a Friday evening – invariably followed by a mish-mash of sloppy love-bites and kebabs. Or more to do with the fact slapperesque behaviour just hasn’t yet caught on across the channel?

Either way, as a menagerie of minds ponder upon such sociological gastronomy, here’s a book that’ll hopefully retain many a waistline from potentially resembling that of a small caravan. That’s right folks, The Skinny French Kitchen – 100 light and delightful French favourites by Harry Eastwood, will both enable and procure even the most reticent of weight obsessed addicts, into (hopefully) lightening up and getting stuck in.

A self-confessed lover of snails and profiteroles – now there’s a topsy-turvy combination – the authoress succinctly writes in the book’s Introduction: ‘’I love French food. The only fly in the ointment is that traditional French food doesn’t love me. As someone who has struggled with putting on and losing weight for most of my life, French dishes (with all that butter) make me rather nervous. So, in The Skinny French Kitchen, I have combined my knowledge of French cuisine with my field of expertise: I’ve lightened up le menu and cut the calories from one hundred of my favourite French recipes.’’

So scattered amid these 248 pages, are such mouth-watering delights as ‘’guilt-free’’ Gratin Dauphinois, Calves’ Liver with Red Onions in a Raspberry Vinegar Glaze (for those who ‘’love eating meat that’s gutsy but lean’), Profiteroles au Chocolat (‘’hands down the best dessert in the world’’) and yet another best: The Best Roast Chicken Ever; beneath the title of which Eastwood writes: ‘’This is a bold claim, I know. But you haven’t tasted this chicken yet… I am one of many who feel that roast chicken is what the soul of a home would look, smell and taste like. I love it simply done with lemon and rosemary, I love it with a thousand garlic cloves slow-cooking alongside it, I love it hot or cold.

This recipe is what I would call the golden Mercedes of roast chickens. It’s a little more fiddly than simply bunging a beautiful bird in the oven with half an onion up its cavity and a grind of pepper over the top, but when you’ve tried it, you’ll understand what I’m on about…’’

Having lived in Normandy prior to moving to Berlin, I do know where she’s coming from, especially with regards actually having to put some effort into cooking, which, when all’s said and cooked, really is worth the effort!

Along with some truly wonderful colour photographs, this cookbook – like those of Jamie Oliver – is extremely user friendly. It addresses the reader by way of friendly, inviting, liner persuasion. This in itself makes The Skinny French Kitchen a very worthy addition to one’s kitchen library. Bon Appetit…

David Marx


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