The best books on provincial French cooking for home cooks

Who am I?

I am an independent research scholar, food writer, and cook who won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year award and the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for A Mediterranean Feast. I have written 19 books, 17 of which are cookbooks, and two on politics and history. I wrote all the food entries for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and the entry for tiramisu and other sweets in the Oxford Companion to Sweets. I have written articles on politics, military affairs, foreign policy, history, and botany.


I wrote...

A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes

By Clifford A. Wright,

Book cover of A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes

What is my book about?

A groundbreaking culinary work of extraordinary depth and scope that spans more than one thousand years of history, A Mediterranean Feast tells the sweeping story of the birth of the venerated and diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean. Author Clifford A. Wright weaves together historical and culinary strands from Moorish Spain to North Africa, from coastal France to the Balearic Islands, from Sicily and the kingdoms of Italy to Greece, the Balkan coast, Turkey, and the Near East.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Cooking of Provincial France

Clifford A. Wright Why did I love this book?

The Time-Life Foods of the World series first published in the 1960s is hands down, to this day, the best books on the various cuisines of the world. Every book in the series is top-notch but the one on provincial French cooking was edited by the famous food writer M. F. K. Fisher. The book, as all in the series, is not written from a chef's point of view, but for the home cook. The recipes are classics and easily do-able by an even slightly competent home cook. They were originally sold as a box set consisting of a large book of text with several recipes and alluring photographs and a smaller spiral-bound book of recipes.

Book cover of French Regional Cooking

Clifford A. Wright Why did I love this book?

Willan is an Englishwoman who lived most of her life in France where she founded and ran the École de Cuisine La Varenne, in Paris and Burgundy. All her books are great, but this book is superlative, and I would put it in the same ranks as the Time-Life book. Its depth of knowledge and breadth is wonderful and there is much to explore and learn. The recipes are gems and work every time.

By Anne Willan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked French Regional Cooking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this cookbook series, every stage of each recipe is photographed in close-up detail, from assembling the ingredients and necessary equipment, through every step of the preparation to the finished dish. This book covers French country cookery.


Book cover of The Cooking of South West France

Clifford A. Wright Why did I love this book?

Wolfert made her name with her book Couscous and Other Food of Morocco, first published in 1973. This groundbreaking book was not only the first time an American writer’s topic was North African food but Wolfert explored for the first time its culinary anthropology. This book on southwest France might even be better than her couscous book. Its depth of understanding and explanation is amazing. Its thoroughness is unparalleled. Its fastidiousness might annoy some readers, but one will never claim there wasn’t enough detail. Follow this book and you will be able to make confit de canard to use in your equally authentic cassoulet of southwest France.

By Paula Wolfert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cooking of South West France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paula Wolfert is one of America's most highly respected food writers, and the author of Moroccan Cuisine which Grub Street reissued to much critical acclaim in 1998. Her highly respected book on South West France, unavailable for 15 years, is now appearing in paperback. This reissue could not be more timely with the opening of restaurants such as Club Gascon in West Spitalfields which has had unanimous plaudits from all the national restaurant critics praising its delicious South Western French classic dishes. The food of this region could well become one of the popular causes of the next year as…


Book cover of French Provincial Cooking

Clifford A. Wright Why did I love this book?

David was one of the most famous food writers in post-World War II Europe and she introduced English readers to the cuisine that exists beyond the celebrated kitchens of the top chefs of Paris. Although the recipes are written in a more abbreviated style than one sees today, her personable stories enliven the dishes she includes so you the reader will excitedly jump right to the kitchen and get cooking.

By Elizabeth David,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked French Provincial Cooking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1962, Elizabeth David's culinary odyssey through provincial France forever changed the way we think about food. With elegant simplicity, David explores the authentic flavors and textures of time-honored cuisines from such provinces as Alsace, Provence, Brittany, and the Savoie. Full of cooking ideas and recipes, French Provincial Cooking is a scholarly yet straightforward celebration of the traditions of French regional cooking.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and…


Book cover of Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France

Clifford A. Wright Why did I love this book?

Better known by his pen-name Curnonsky, Maurice Edmond Sailland, was called the Prince of Gastronomy and was the most celebrated writer on gastronomy in France in the 20th century. Notice I say writer on gastronomy and not most famous chef or most famous cookbook author. What Curnonsky did was write about the whys and wherefores of the great provincial cuisines of France. If you think you know something about provincial French cuisine, Curnonsky will enlighten you with his explorations into the culture and geography of these various regions. The recipes in some cases will be unfamiliar and archaic, although no less delicious. The book is a gem.

By Maurice Edmond Sailland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traditional Recipes of The Provinces of France : Selected By Curnonsky Hardcover– January 1, 1961 by Edwin (Trans. And Ed.) Lavin(Author) Translated and edited by Edwin Lavin, c1961


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By Alexander Rose,

Book cover of The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

Alexander Rose Author Of Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

A long time ago, I was an early-aviation historian, but eventually realized that I knew only half the story—the part about airplanes. But what about airships? Initially, I assumed, like so many others, that they were a flash-in-the-pan, a ridiculous dead-end technology, but then I realized these wondrous giants had roamed and awed the world for nearly four decades. There was a bigger story here of an old rivalry between airplanes and airships, one that had since been forgotten, and Empires of the Sky was the result.

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What is my book about?

From the author of Washington’s Spies, the thrilling story of two rival secret agents — one Confederate, the other Union — sent to Britain during the Civil War.

The South’s James Bulloch, charming and devious, was ordered to acquire a clandestine fleet intended to break Lincoln’s blockade, sink Northern merchant vessels, and drown the U.S. Navy’s mightiest ships at sea. Opposing him was Thomas Dudley, an upright Quaker lawyer determined to stop Bulloch in a spy-versus-spy game of move and countermove, gambit and sacrifice, intrigue and betrayal.

Their battleground was the Dickensian port of Liverpool, whose dockyards built more ships each year than the rest of the world combined and whose merchant princes, said one observer, were “addicted to Southern proclivities, foreign slave trade, and domestic bribery.”

The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

By Alexander Rose,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Washington's Spies, the thrilling story of the Confederate spy who came to Britain to turn the tide of the Civil War-and the Union agent resolved to stop him.

"Entertaining and deeply researched...with a rich cast of spies, crooks, bent businessmen and drunken sailors...Rose relates the tale with gusto." -The New York Times

In 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, two secret agents-one a Confederate, the other his Union rival-were dispatched to neutral Britain, each entrusted with a vital mission.

The South's James Bulloch, charming and devious, was to acquire…


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