Classic Cookbooks: French Cooking in Ten Minutes

French Cooking in Ten Minutes

The first thing you must do when you get home, before you take off your coat, is to go to the kitchen and light the stove. It will have to be a gas stove, otherwise you'll never be able to cook in 10 minutes. Next, fill a pot large enough to hold a quart of water. Put it on the fire, cover it and bring it to the boil. What's the water for? I don't know, but it's bound to be good for something… Now that everything's started you can take off your coat and start cooking."

If you're wondering why the author advised using gas it's because the alternative, at that point in history, was coal. Which makes the very idea of French Cooking in Ten Minutes all the more remarkable. Could a French chef, born at the time of the Franco-Prussian war, really have suggested that it was possible to make great food in a flash? But Edourd de Pomiane was not your average chef. He was also a medical doctor, a research scientist, the host of France's first radio cooking show, and the author of 22 cookbooks. I love them all, but this slim little tome, which reminds you how simple it is to make good food, is my favorite. A few gems:

"It is a good idea to keep potatoes which have been boiled and left in their skins on hand for 10 minute cooking."

"Beef is ideal for 10 minute cooking because it is best served rare."

"While serving, don't let your guests help you as this would only cause chaos and confusion and that would be bad for your digestion."

Between recipes for onion soup, filet of sole with mushrooms, pork chops with apple sauce and sugared crepes (all in under 10 minutes), Pomiane is urging you to turn on some jazz, take a second sip of wine, and fling open the window. Pomiane was so easygoing, so sensual, so wise. He was also a great advertisement for his own advice: when he died in 1964 M. de Pomiane was ninety years old.

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