Cookery books fall on a continuum between simple collections of recipes to writing about the food that drops occasional hints about how to do something similar yourself. My taste tends towards the latter so, in reviewing the copy of Chef Q in Paris: the Fall Collection, which I got from the LibraryThing EarlyReviewer programme, it starts off on the back foot. I’d not heard of Quemener before and he mainly presents recipes decorated with a small amount of narrative. There is nothing particularly fresh about the idea of cooking with high-quality seasonal ingredients and, to boot, I got a copy for my Kindle so any enticing layout and colour the paper edition might have are lost on me.
Is there anything left to win me round? I think it might suit someone who wants to get a bit of inspiration but with recipes that are easy to follow and not lost in too many words. Quemener is enthusiastic but he also takes the time to offer alternatives when he suggests expensive or rare ingredients. A particularly neat touch was indicating what drinks might go well with the food and, with exquisite attention to detail, what food might go well with the drinks that are also included in the collection.
I have to confess that I haven’t made the acid test of a cookery book and actually tried any of the recipes. Some of them look somewhat simple (blonde ale with maple syrup? pour half a pint of beer on top of 3 tsp maple syrup and stir if necessary) and there aren’t actually that many of them in the book. I counted less than twenty named on the contents page. Even if I had a physical copy, I don’t think it would be likely to become one of the stained and annotated stalwarts of my cookery shelf. Therefore, under the caveat that it isn’t the type of work I’m biased to love, I will hold back from recommending it too highly.