Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, January 25, 1997

Review of Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking, with a recipe for Eggplant Fareed (Batinjan).

AuthorsMarie Maronne, Rose Montigny
PublisherCrown Publishers, Inc.
Length512 pages
Book Rating7

The Larousse Treasure of Country Cooking is four hundred pages of international recipes supposedly from country, provincial kitchens. And these recipes do pass the simplicity test: Most all of them fit on a single small page. It includes a lot of recipes and only a few pictures. Fine by me, but the pictures aren’t labeled, so you have to wander through the book to figure out what goes where. Makes for a nice evening by the fire, unless you actually wanted to cook something tonight.

The writers are also arrogant: over half of the recipes are French, because “France has admittedly been headquarters for brilliant provincial cooking for centuries.” The rest of the world fights over the remaining pages. Still, it covers a wide variety. Opening at random I see “Basque Brown Sugar Custard” from France and “Penang Coconut Custard” from Malaysia on facing pages. The “Appetizers” section has recipes from Mexico, USSR, Israel, Lebanon, France, France, France, France, Lebanon, Italy, Syria, Cuba, France, France, France, Italy, Hungary, Italy, India, Netherlands, France, France, USSR, France, China, China, France, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Sweden, Sweden, Great Britain, France, Italy, France, France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, China, China, France, USSR, France, and Canada.

The arrogance is obvious, but hardly something to complain about. The recipes we do get range from baba ghanoúj, töltött zöldpaprika Gyor, and taramasalata to France’s tapénade and anchoïade. That’s “eggplant dip”, “green pepper Gabor”, “smoked fish roe dip”, “Niçoise Caviar”, and “Anchovy Canapés” if you only speak English.

Yes, they do have frogs’ legs: with garlic and herbs, under “fish”. The sections are:

  1. Appetizers and Hors d’Oeuvres
  2. Soups
  3. Fish and Shellfish
  4. Poultry and Game
  5. Meats
  6. Composite Dishes and Casseroles
  7. Meatless Dishes and Vegetables
  8. Baking
  9. Sweet Dishes

It includes a standard index and an index by country of origin. One of my biggest pet peeves with “international” cookbooks is that they organize the book by country, rather than by recipe. So if you want to find a good cake, or a salad, you have to wander through every country. When I’m looking for a specific kind of recipe, I need to see the ingredients and cooking times; the Larousse works for me there. But if I’m making a dinner based on a certain locale, I still can look for recipes in the back—and generally, ingredients and cooking time are less important if I’m trying to recreate a regional meal.

I have yet to be disappointed by a recipe from this book. My current favorite is “Fish Curry with Rice” (machi pulao), which calls for all my favorite spices in the curry mixture: ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and chili. My friends prefer when I bring Irish Soda Bread over to get-togethers.

I can strongly recommend the Treasury. If I’m looking for a unique international recipe, it is my first choice; and if you are looking for a single book to widen your cooking horizons, you’ll not likely find a better one than this.

Eggplant Fareed (Batinjan)

  • 2 small eggplants,
  • salt,
  • 6 tblsp olive oil,
  • 1 clove minced garlic,
  • ¼ minced medium onion,
  • juice of 1 lemon,
  • 2 tblsp fresh chopped parsley,
  • ½ pint yoghurt,
  • chopped fresh mint,
  • thinly sliced black bread.
  1. Peel and cube the eggplants.
  2. Put the eggplant in a non-metallic colander, salt lightly, cover with a cloth, rest over a plate for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain thoroughly and dry on paper towels.
  4. Heat half the oil in a frying pan.
  5. Sauté the eggplant over moderate heat until tender (about 6 minutes).
  6. In a mixing bowl, toss the eggplant, garlic, onion, lemon juice and remaining olive oil until well mixed.
  7. Stir in the parsley and yoghurt, adjust seasonings, and transfer the eggplant to a serving bowl.
  8. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  9. Serve at room temperature, garnished with mint and accompanied by black bread.

Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking

Marie Maronne, Rose Montigny

My cost: $8.95

Recommendation: Good down-home cooking