PARIS — It looks like the way to a woman’s heart is also through her stomach — or is it vice versa?
Consider two-star French chef Hélène Darroze. The taste of her lover’s kiss inspired 10 recipes in her unusual new cookbook — one of three from prominent female food stars hitting bookshelves here this winter.
“I did not want to just write another cookbook,” Darroze explained at her Rue d’Assas restaurant. To that end, her ambitious seven-pound tome recounts the love story of a young woman chef, blended with 160 recipes inspired by memories and emotions.
Among them is Darroze’s great-grandmother’s “Escartoun” dish, a corn flour flan with goat cheese served with black truffles. Meanwhile, the lover’s travel stories prompted some “world food” recipes such as a glazed ham with citrus fruit zests and semolina.
Darroze’s 365-page book — titled “Personne Ne Me Volera Ce Que J’ai Dansé,” or “No One Will Steal What I Have Danced” — exemplifies her motto: “Cooking is living and living is cooking.”
Chef Sophie Dudemaine, for her part, had the audacity to revisit Alain Ducasse’s “Grand Livre de Cuisine” with her “La Cuisine de Ducasse par Sophie.” She selected 105 of Ducasse’s beloved recipes and simplified them, reducing, for example, the number of steps needed to make rabbit ravioli from 36 to 18. Dudemaine claims she also made sure people would be able to find the ingredients she used for her interpretations.
It took a little bit more diplomacy, however, to convince Ducasse to agree to the project, but once he tested some of her recipes, he gave her carte blanche to democratize his cuisine.
“The goal is to simplify people’s lives. But it should look good and it must taste good, too,” says the blonde, energetic chef, who encourages her readers to buy finished or even frozen products instead of making them from scratch. She also uses simple and comprehensible language to explain the recipes.
Dudemaine already has published seven books, including her bestseller, “Sophie’s Sweet and Savory Loaves,” which sold more than a million copies in France. She also runs an inn in Normandy where she gives cooking classes.
Meanwhile, the most famous bread in Paris, Poilâne, gets exhaustive treatment in the 390-page cookbook “Le Pain par Poilâne.” The book was penned by 21-year-old Apolonia Poilâne, who runs the family bakery on Rue du Cherche Midi.
Extremely well documented, it traces the history and the role of bread in our civilization; gives advice on selecting, eating and storing it — and, of course, offers those treasured Poilâne pain recipes.
She completed the gargantuan work her father started before he lost his life in a plane crash three years ago. Finally, the fabled Poilâne house and its delicious bread will hold no more secrets once the reader closes the book.