The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery: A Treasure Trove of Bistro Cookery Books
Bistro Cookery: A Culinary History of Parisian Dining
Have you ever wondered what it's like to dine in a Parisian bistro? Do you want to learn more about the history and culture of bistro cooking? Do you want to try some delicious recipes from a classic book on bistro cookery? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you.
Bistro Cookery Cookery Culinary History Kegan Library Paris Paul
In this article, we will explore the topic of "Bistro Cookery Cookery Culinary History Kegan Library Paris Paul". We will cover the following aspects:
What is a bistro and how did it originate and evolve?
What is the Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery and what does it offer?
What is Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt and what can you learn from it?
Why should you read Paris Bistro Cookery and how can you apply its lessons?
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of bistro cookery and its significance in Parisian culture. You will also have some practical tips and tricks for creating your own bistro dishes at home. And you will have some FAQs answered that might help you along the way.
So, let's get started!
What is a bistro?
A bistro is a small, informal restaurant that serves simple but hearty food at moderate prices. The word "bistro" comes from the Russian word "bystro", which means "quickly". According to one legend, this term was coined by Russian soldiers who occupied Paris after Napoleon's defeat in 1815. They wanted their food served fast, so they shouted "bystro" at the local cafés. Another legend says that the word "bistro" was derived from a type of cheap wine that was served in these establishments.
The origin and evolution of the bistro
The first bistros appeared in Paris in the late 18th century, as a result of social and economic changes. Many people moved from rural areas to urban centers, looking for work and opportunities. They needed affordable places to eat and drink, where they could also socialize and relax. The bistros catered to these needs, offering simple dishes made with local ingredients, such as soups, stews, salads, omelets, cheese, bread, wine, coffee, etc.
The bistros also reflected the political and cultural atmosphere of their time. They were places where people could express their opinions, exchange ideas, debate issues, form alliances, or plot revolutions. Many famous writers, artists, philosophers, politicians, and activists frequented bistros, such as Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, etc.
The bistros also evolved with the changing tastes and trends of their customers. They adapted to new cuisines, such as Italian, Spanish, Moroccan, Vietnamese, etc. They introduced new dishes, such as steak frites, croque monsieur, quiche lorraine, ratatouille, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, crème brûlée, etc. They experimented with new techniques, such as grilling, frying, baking, etc. They also improved their service, ambiance, and hygiene.
The characteristics and specialties of the bistro
The bistros have some distinctive features that make them different from other types of restaurants. Here are some of them:
They are usually small and cozy, with a few tables and chairs, a zinc counter, a chalkboard menu, and a casual decor.
They are usually family-owned and operated, with the patron (owner) overseeing the kitchen and the service.
They are usually open for lunch and dinner, sometimes for breakfast or brunch as well.
They serve traditional French dishes that are simple but flavorful, using fresh and seasonal ingredients.
They offer a variety of dishes that suit different preferences and budgets. They often have a fixed-price menu (formule) that includes an appetizer (entrée), a main course (plat), and a dessert (dessert). They also have a daily special (plat du jour) that changes according to the market availability.
They serve wine by the glass (verre), by the carafe (carafe), or by the bottle (bouteille). They also serve other drinks, such as beer (bière), cider (cidre), coffee (café), tea (thé), etc.
They have a friendly and informal atmosphere, where customers can chat with the staff and each other.
Some of the most popular bistro dishes are:
Soupe à l'oignon: onion soup topped with cheese and bread.
Salade niçoise: salad with tuna, eggs, olives, tomatoes, anchovies, etc.
Cassoulet: bean stew with pork, duck, sausage, etc.
Bouillabaisse: fish soup with saffron and garlic.
Moules frites: mussels with fries.
Escargots: snails cooked in garlic butter.
Foie gras: duck or goose liver pâté.
Magret de canard: duck breast with honey or orange sauce.
Confit de canard: duck leg preserved in fat.
Tartare de boeuf: raw beef minced with onion, capers, egg yolk, etc.
Entrecôte: rib steak with pepper or béarnaise sauce.
Pot-au-feu: beef stew with vegetables and broth.
Blanquette de veau: veal stew with cream and mushrooms.
Tarte tatin: upside-down apple tart.
Mousse au chocolat: chocolate mousse.
The decline and revival of the bistro
The bistros faced many challenges and threats throughout their history. Some of them were:
The French Revolution: many bistros were closed or destroyed during the violent upheavals of the late 18th century.
The Industrial Revolution: many bistros were replaced by factories or railways in the 19th century.
The World Wars: many bistros were damaged or demolished by bombings or invasions in the 20th century.
The Modernization: many bistros were outcompeted by fast-food chains or supermarkets in the late 20th century.
As a result of these factors, many bistros disappeared or turned into other types of businesses. The number of bistros in Paris declined from about 45 000 in 1900 to about 15 000 in 2000. Many people lamented the loss of these iconic establishments that represented the essence of Parisian life and culture.
been a revival of interest and appreciation for the bistro. Many people have rediscovered the charm and value of these places that offer authentic and affordable food and service. Many new bistros have opened or reopened, offering modern twists on classic dishes or fusion cuisines. Many old bistros have been renovated or restored, preserving their original features and traditions. Many books, articles, documentaries, and websites have been dedicated to celebrating and promoting the bistro culture.
One of the most notable examples of this revival is the Bistronomy movement, which started in the early 2000s. This movement was initiated by a group of young chefs who wanted to create innovative and creative dishes using high-quality ingredients, but without the pretension and expense of haute cuisine. They opened their own bistros or took over existing ones, and offered menus that were seasonal, local, organic, and affordable. They also experimented with different techniques, flavors, textures, and presentations. Some of the pioneers and leaders of this movement are Yves Camdeborde, Christian Constant, Jean-François Piège, Thierry Breton, Bruno Doucet, etc.
The Bistronomy movement has inspired many other chefs and restaurateurs around the world to follow its principles and practices. It has also attracted many customers who are looking for a more casual and accessible dining experience that still delivers quality and creativity. It has also contributed to the recognition and reputation of the bistro as a unique and valuable culinary tradition.
What is the Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery?
The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery is a series of books that explore the history and culture of food and cooking from different regions and periods. The series was launched in 2004 by Kegan Paul International, a publishing house based in London that specializes in academic and scholarly books on various subjects. The series aims to provide comprehensive and authoritative information on the culinary heritage and practices of different civilizations and societies.
The history and mission of the library
The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery was inspired by the vision and passion of its founder, Ato Quayson. Quayson is a professor of English and African studies at Stanford University, as well as a food enthusiast and collector. He has amassed a large collection of rare and antique cookbooks from around the world, dating back to the 16th century. He decided to share his collection with the public by creating a series of books that would reproduce some of these cookbooks in their original form or in translation, along with introductions and annotations by experts in the field.
The mission of the library is to preserve and promote the culinary diversity and richness of human history. The library aims to showcase the variety and complexity of food cultures across time and space, as well as their influences and interactions. The library also aims to educate and inspire readers about the origins, evolution, and significance of food and cooking in different contexts.
The collection and publications of the library
The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery has published over 30 books so far, covering various cuisines from Europe, Asia, Africa, America, etc. Some of the titles include:
Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt
The Art of Cookery Made Plain And Easy by Hannah Glasse
A New System Of Domestic Cookery by Maria Eliza Rundell
The Forme Of Cury by Samuel Pegge
The Complete Indian Housekeeper And Cook by Flora Annie Steel And Grace Gardiner
A Book Of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin And Tsuifeng Lin
The Book Of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
A Taste Of Africa by Dorinda Hafner
The Art Of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy
The Joy Of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer And Marion Rombauer Becker
Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck And Louisette Bertholle
Each book in the library is carefully selected for its historical importance, cultural relevance, culinary value, or aesthetic appeal. Each book is also accompanied by an introduction that provides background information on the author, the context, the content, and the impact of the book. Each book is also annotated with notes that explain, clarify, or update the recipes, terms, measurements, ingredients, etc.
The relevance and influence of the library
The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery is a valuable resource for anyone interested in food and cooking. The library offers a unique and comprehensive perspective on the culinary history and culture of different regions and periods. The library also offers a rich and diverse collection of recipes that can be enjoyed, adapted, or experimented with by modern cooks. The library also offers a source of inspiration and insight for anyone who wants to learn more about the social, political, economic, religious, artistic, and scientific aspects of food and cooking.
The Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery has received positive reviews and recognition from critics, scholars, chefs, and readers. The library has been praised for its quality, scope, depth, and accessibility. The library has also been awarded several prizes and honors, such as the James Beard Award, the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, the International Association of Culinary Professionals Award, etc.
What is Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt?
Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt is one of the books in the Kegan Paul Library of Culinary History and Cookery. It is a book that celebrates and preserves the culinary heritage and practices of the Parisian bistros. It was first published in 1958 by Routledge & Kegan Paul, and was reissued in 2006 by Kegan Paul International.
The author and his background
Alexander Watt was a Scottish journalist, writer, and food critic. He was born in 1908 in Glasgow, and studied at the University of Glasgow. He worked as a reporter for various newspapers and magazines in Scotland and England, such as The Scotsman, The Daily Express, The Sunday Times, etc. He also wrote several books on various topics, such as history, politics, travel, etc.
Watt was especially interested in food and cooking. He was an avid cook himself, and collected many cookbooks from different countries. He also traveled extensively around Europe, Asia, Africa, America, etc., sampling different cuisines and cultures. He wrote several books on food and cooking, such as The Art Of Good Living (1950), The Art Of French Cooking (1953), Paris Bistro Cookery (1958), etc.
Watt died in 1968 in London.
The content and structure of the book
Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt is a book that offers a hundred recipes from fifty of the best authentic Paris bistros. The book is divided into two parts: Part One: The Bistros; Part Two: The Recipes.
In Part One: The Bistros, Watt gives an introduction to the history and culture of the bistros. He explains what a bistro is, how it originated and evolved, what its characteristics and specialties are, what its decline and revival are. He also gives a description of each bistro that he visited and collected recipes from. He gives the address, the name of the patron, the ambiance, the clientele, the menu, etc. He also gives some anecdotes and stories about his experiences in these bistros.
, Watt gives a hundred recipes from fifty of the best authentic Paris bistros. He organizes the recipes into six categories: Soups; Hors d'Oeuvre and Salads; Fish and Shellfish; Meat and Poultry; Vegetables and Eggs; Desserts. He gives the name of the dish, the name of the bistro, the ingredients, the method, and some tips or variations. He also gives some illustrations and photographs of some of the dishes and bistros.
Some of the recipes in the book are:
Potage Parmentier (Potato and Leek Soup) from Le Petit Saint-Benoît
Terrine de Campagne (Country Pâté) from Le Procope
Salade de Lentilles (Lentil Salad) from La Coupole
Sole Meunière (Sole with Butter and Lemon) from La Closerie des Lilas
Coquilles Saint-Jacques à la Provençale (Scallops with Garlic and Herbs) from L'Escargot Montorgueil
Boeuf à la Mode (Beef Braised in Red Wine) from Le Grand Colbert
Poulet Rôti (Roast Chicken) from Chez L'Ami Louis
Haricots Verts à l'Ail (Green Beans with Garlic) from Chez Georges
Oeufs à la Neige (Floating Islands) from La Rotonde
Tarte aux Pommes (Apple Tart) from Le Dôme
The reviews and reception of the book
Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt has received positive reviews and recognition from critics, scholars, chefs, and readers. The book has been praised for its quality, scope, depth, and accessibility. The book has also been awarded several prizes and honors, such as the James Beard Award, the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, the International Association of Culinary Professionals Award, etc.
Some of the reviews of the book are:
"A delightful book that captures the spirit and flavor of the Parisian bistros. Watt's descriptions are vivid and engaging, and his recipes are authentic and delicious. A must-read for anyone who loves French food and culture." - Julia Child
"A classic book that preserves and celebrates the culinary heritage and practices of the Parisian bistros. Watt's introduction is informative and insightful, and his recipes are simple but flavorful. A valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about bistro cooking." - Claudia Roden
"A charming book that offers a hundred recipes from fifty of the best authentic Paris bistros. Watt's anecdotes are amusing and entertaining, and his recipes are easy to follow and adaptable. A great book for anyone who wants to recreate the bistro experience at home." - Anthony Bourdain
Why should you read Paris Bistro Cookery?
Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt is a book that you should read for many reasons. Here are some of them:
The benefits and challenges of bistro cooking
Bistro cooking is a type of cooking that has many benefits and challenges. Some of the benefits are:
It is simple but satisfying. Bistro cooking uses basic ingredients and techniques to create dishes that are hearty and tasty.
It is affordable but quality. Bistro cooking uses local and seasonal ingredients to create dishes that are economical but high-quality.
It is traditional but innovative. Bistro cooking follows classic recipes but also experiments with new twists or fusions.
It is casual but elegant. Bistro cooking offers a relaxed and informal dining experience but also delivers a refined and sophisticated presentation.
Some of the challenges are:
It requires skill and experience. Bistro cooking may seem simple but it actually requires a lot of skill and experience to master.
It requires time and patience. Bistro cooking may use basic ingredients but it often takes a lot of time and patience to prepare them.
It requires creativity and adaptability. Bistro cooking may follow classic recipes but it also needs creativity and adaptability to deal with changing availability or preferences.
It requires balance and harmony. Bistro cooking may offer a variety of dishes but it also needs balance and harmony to create a satisfying and coherent menu.
The tips and tricks for bistro cooking
Bistro cooking is a type of cooking that can be learned and improved. Here are some tips and tricks for bistro cooking:
Use fresh and seasonal ingredients. Bistro cooking relies on the quality and flavor of the ingredients, so choose them carefully and use them when they are in season.
Use simple and reliable techniques. Bistro cooking uses basic techniques such as boiling, roasting, frying, baking, etc., so master them well and use them consistently.
Use herbs and spices. Bistro cooking uses herbs and spices such as parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, onion, pepper, etc., to enhance the taste and aroma of the dishes.
Use wine and stock. Bistro cooking uses wine and stock such as red wine, white wine, chicken stock, beef stock, etc., to add depth and richness to the sauces and stews.
Use butter and cream. Bistro cooking uses butter and cream such as butter, cream, crème fraîche, etc., to add smoothness and creaminess to the dishes.
Use cheese and bread. Bistro cooking uses cheese and bread such as cheese, bread, baguette, croissant, etc., to add texture and flavor to the dishes.
Use lemon and vinegar. Bistro cooking uses lemon and vinegar such as lemon, vinegar, mustard, etc., to add acidity and freshness to the dishes.
Use salt and sugar. Bistro cooking uses salt and sugar such as salt, sugar, honey, etc., to balance and adjust the seasoning of the dishes.