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Cookbook Watch

October 28, 1998|LAURIE OCHOA

As the entertaining season begins, cooks looking for friendly advice can turn to new releases from two of television's most popular hosts.

"Julia's Delicious Little Dinners" and "Julia's Menus for Special Occasions" (Knopf, $18 each) will be familiar to those who own "Julia Child & Company," "Julia Child & More Company" or "Julia Child's Menu Cookbook" (the "Company" books combined into one). The new books are simply a repackaging of the earlier books, this time breaking down the works into smaller themed books of six menus each, instead of one massive volume. Those who know Child solely through television or through her teaching books should take this opportunity to get to know Child more intimately. Writer E.S. Yntema brings out Child's sense of play and wit; these are certainly among her most revealing works. Full of vivid expressions (rack of lamb, "that acme of expensive chic"), strong opinions (diet food is "dismal food" . . . "fake food" . . . "almost immoral, a bane to good eating and good cooking") and an underlying sense of mission (Child wants Americans to eat better and to eat together), the books take the reader beyond Child's TV persona. And unlike many other menu book authors, she not only gives recipes and a menu in each chapter, she provides advice on how to adapt the menu to different seasons, different budgets and different tastes, and, most important, she makes the case for bothering to get yourself into the kitchen.

Like Child, Nathalie Dupree thinks American cooks spend too much time worrying about the details of entertaining and not enough time giving parties. Her newest book, "Nathalie Dupree's Comfortable Entertaining: At Home With Ease and Grace" (Viking, $29.95), aims, as her TV shows do, at demystifying cooking and party giving. In addition to recipes (breakfast for six to crown roast for eight to a buffet for 50 in four hours or less), she offers strategies, time lines and a basic primer on entertaining--the things we used to learn at home but now get in books.

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