"The book’s sumptuous color photos of food and French towns and landscapes are a visual feast, and the prose is equally evocative" - Kirkus Reviews
"Ingenious, delightfully presented recipes that give a healthy take on French cuisine.
FLAVOUR WITH BENEFITS
French food can taste good without the animal products and other dietary no-nos, according to this cookbook-cum–gastronomic travelogue.
Connally and Best recount their journey through France from the Champagne region in the northeast down to Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, tasting the regional cuisines and culture and collecting ideas for recipes. Their musings on the tour are haphazard but charming.
They toast the prominence of women among the heads of Veuve Clicquot and other legendary Champagne-makers; recollect a year Connally’s family spent in the city of Metz in Lorraine when she was 5, when she contracted a liver ailment that she cured by eating artichokes; and visit Julia Child’s old haunts in Provence, noting that Child’s first recipe was for a shark repellent used during World War II.
Each chapter culminates in a selection of regionally inspired recipes the authors reengineer to “achieve positive health returns,” mainly by replacing flesh, dairy, and oils with plant-based ingredients. (Connally reports that a similar diet has conferred many health benefits, including “greater sexual vitality.”) Of the 59 recipes, only three—roasted spatchcocked chicken, coffee-rubbed grilled rib-eye, and sea bass cassis—feature meat or fish, while 43 are straight-up vegan, 35 are gluten free, and 47 are free of even plant oils.
The duo contends that their alternatives to animal-product ingredients are flavorful and great tasting in dishes like cultured cashew “cheese” logs spiced with herbs, crepes made with flaxseed “eggs” and French onion soup with a “beef” broth made from vegetable broth. (While sugar is allowed, the book suggests replacing it with monk fruit as a sweetener.) A nutrition table accompanies each recipe with data on calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.
Connally and Best present the recipes in a clear, easy-to-follow style. Many of them have an intriguing Gallic spin, such as a blueberry cheesecake decorated to mimic van Gogh’s The Starry Night and a confection called “Tétons de Vénus,” a pair of cakes shaped like breasts complete with blueberry nipples.
The book’s sumptuous color photos of food and French towns and landscapes are a visual feast, and the prose is equally evocative. (“The creamy texture coats my tongue,” Connally recalls of a cheesecake at a Provencal restaurant. “Something is building. I can feel it. Then it happens. I am not sure whether the creamy filling is getting my attention, or the dripping blackcurrant sauce bursting with tiny wild blueberries, or the sweet, nutty almond date crust, but it’s magnificent….The only thing more pleasurable would be eating it in the arms of a lover.”)
And yet, something seems naggingly un-French about the culinary philosophy behind such recipes as “Vive la France Cheesecake,” which features a filling of “plant-based yoghurt,” ”plant-based cream cheese,” and 300 grams of non-GMO tofu, and sports saturated-fat levels “75% lower than a traditional cheesecake.” Still, readers seeking well-considered vegetarian-ish versions of French classics will love Connally and Best’s cookery.Ingenious, delightfully presented recipes that give a healthy take on French cuisine." Kirkus Reviews