I have a little bit of a crush on Ina Garten.
Maybe that’s not entirely accurate. I have a little bit of a crush on Ina Garten’s LIFE. What I wouldn’t give to live in the Hamptons with my adoring husband and bake and cook and host dinner parties for my fabulous friends all day, every day.
Alas, it’s not to be, but the next best thing is to use one of Ina’s cookbooks. They are all so wonderful, but the one I want to discuss is Barefoot in Paris. Having gone to Paris as a teenager, the lovely photos and beautiful descriptions of freshly baked bread and fresh tangy cheeses, open air markets and lovely picturesque country sides stir in me a sense of nostalgia for the banks of the Seine. And the recipes are just as lovely and delightfully simple. The tagline for the volume is “Easy French food you can make at home” and it does not disappoint.
After thanks and an introduction, in which Ina explains her fascination and love for all things French, the book is laid out in a decidedly easy to use fashion, in categories like To Start (a collection of drinks and hors d’oeuvres), Soup and Salad, and Dinner, six in all, they give you a starting point from which to find what you need. At the beginning of each section is a bit on French culture of some kind, from wine to table settings to cooking classes. After the recipes there are lists of Ina’s favorite shops and restaurants in Paris, a guide to French ingredients and cookware, places to see if you go, and an index to find just what you need at a glance. All in all, it’s an extremely functional book.
But it’s not the function that sells it. It’s not even the photographs, which, by the way, are sublime, full sized illustrations that make you want to get up and cook this very instant. Right now! What really makes this book a work of artistic genius is that it lives up to it’s self-induced hype. It is full of recipes that you really can make at home. The steps are simple, but precise and you can cook with confidence knowing that if you follow the instructions exactly, it will turn out every single time.
There are also great tips on preparing things in advance and hosting a worry-free dinner party. When you get this book (which I KNOW you will!) make sure you pay attention to the margins of the recipes. Here, Ina has included extra advice, as well as left plenty of room for you to make your own notes for future reference.