Bistro Cooking

Bistro Cooking
by Patricia Wells
Workman Publishing, New York: 1989

I got my copy of Bistro Cooking not long after it first came out.  I remember spotting it at the table with all the other cookbooks highlighted that month at our local Borders Books while we were still living in the States. Borders very cleverly positioned that table right at the entrance to the coffee shop, knowing that thoughts of little pastries or cookies (to go along with the caffeine) were on people’s minds – that is, on their stomachs. I didn’t mind the strategy, they were there to sell books, after all, and I loved looking through what was new on offer.

The caricature of the moustached maître d’, the big blue letters of BISTRO and even the red checkerboard border caught my eye. However, any astute marketing talent could make appealing cover art. It was the contents that really counted.

I flipped open a copy to the Table of Contents page, noticing there was an chapter called Le Pomme de Terre. Intrigued, I wondered how anyone could have devoted an entire chapter on that lowly vegetable, the Potato.  Delving in, I read on, now converted to the cult of Potato. The sumptuous, but homey Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin had my mouth watering. Soon I was scanning more recipes: intensively flavoured Duck with Green Olives, Rabbit and Hazelnut Terrine, Leek Tart, and a simply sublime Pear Tart Tatin. I was hooked, picked up a copy and headed for the checkout.

Since then, I have cooked many of the recipes in Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking. I come back to it time and time again and have yet to find a recipe that didn’t come out just right. I feel quite at home with this book and with its author. Patricia Wells, another expat, living in France, is a fabulous cook.  It was her exploration of the Bistros of France while living in Paris that gave rise to this book.

Thank you, Patricia!

For more about Patricia Wells , see her web-site:  At Home with Patricia Wells