Where do I start with a book like Madame Punier’s Fish Cookery Book? When offered a copy of one of two books, I went for this as I don’t cook a lot of fish and I want to. I love fish, fish loves me, fish and me fairly fully agree…. hold on I’ve gone all Scrooge the Musical (listen to the I Like Life song and you’ll get what I mean). I was also interested in the book as it’s from Quadrille Publishing’s Classic Voices in Food series. Dare I put another Scrooge link into the spirit of Christmas past there? Oh dear, I just did.
The book, first published in 1938, is presented in hard back and old school, as I call it. Old style type face, silver edged pages, it even smells old. I’ve had great amusement from it with some of the language, forgetting before “text speak” that we did communicate with proper grammar and words. It’s the kind of cook book I like because it doesn’t just list recipes, it teaches as well. You have your conversion chart, tips on buying fish, basic rule on cooking fish and then your recipes from everything for the sauces to accompany the fish to soups, hors d’oeuvres and the main courses.
There’s even a section on turtle (must see if they have any down the market next time). Add to that some notes at the end about wine and fish, which for some reason I read in an Olly Smith-esque voice, there’s not much more I could take in, being a novice. I note on the back there is a quote from Rick Stein that says it was very influential in his early days of fish cookery. Do you know what, that quote alone almost sells it to me anyway.
Now I know you’re sat there, possibly stood, or doing whatever you’re doing while reading this and you’re thinking, “So Simon, what have you cooked from the book so far?” Okay, well, you see it’s like this………my Wife doesn’t eat a lot of fish so I’ve not had much chance to experiment but don’t worry the time is coming. I’m doing a meal for some friend soon and the fish course will be courtesy of this book. I just have to decide on a recipe. You can be sure I will let you know how it goes.
I have a lot of modern cookbooks at home from some of the best chefs in the world and this book is taking pride of place (or should that be plaice?) with them. Books are special, care for them, make them part of your home. So if you’re a fish fan, a keen cook or just a book lover, this would be a great addition to your collection.
Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book is available from Quadrille Publishing
ISBN No: 978-1-84400-958-9
Also available in the series
Modern Cookery for Private Families – Elizabeth Acton
Simple French Cooking for English Homes – X. Marcel Boulestin
The Gentle Art of Cookery – Mrs C F Leyel & Miss Olga Harley