So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

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Cookbook of the day – Larousse Gastronomique and The Food Lover’s Companion


Larousse Gastronomique

by Prosper Montaigne (ed.)

Clarkson Potter; Rev Sub edition (October 2, 2001)

  • ISBN-10: 0609609718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609609712
  • 51DED8KZ6PL__SS500_

    Food Lover’s Companion, The (Barron’s Cooking Guide) 3rd Edition (Paperback)

    by Sharon Tyler Herbst

    Barron’s Educational Series

  • ISBN-10: 0764112589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764112584
  • I combined these two reference works because every server should have at least the Food Lover’s Companion. A compact and comprehensive list of ingredients, techniques, tools and history, this volume is small enough to keep in your backpack or locker as a go-to reference when you are confronted with a term or foodstuff that you aren’t familiar with. You can also settle arguments with this thing as well.

    But I included the venerable granddaddy of culinary reference works (along with Escoffier’s Cookbook), Larousse Gastronomique. Yes, a current edition is over $50 new. Yes, it can be used as a stepladder – that’s that thick. But it’s a reference work that presents the classical culinary world better than any. Yes, it’s a narrow in its scope in that it doesn’t address a lot of exotic cuisines and cultures. Yes, it isn’t quick to give the lowdown on trendy dining fads. And, it’s a bit ponderous (like this blog can be sometimes). But any really serious culinary fan should have an edition around the house, even if they do as I do and buy a cheaper older version used. I have the 1961 edition that Rebecca Dazell wrote about on Gourmet’s website:

    “Like The Joy of Cooking, the Larousse had later editions that brought it into the modern era, made it more palatable. But the edits also took away the original’s unabashed exultation of food; the writing in that first edition drew me back for pleasure reading, if not real instruction. Were it not for the 1961 Larousse,I doubt I would have ever discovered the 17th-century poet St. Amant and his ode to Brie:

    Now then, let us shout with all our might:
    Blessed be the land of Brie…
    For one has only to press it with one’s fingers
    For it to run over with fat.
    Why then, is it not endless,
    As indeed its circular form is endless?”

    I bought my copy for around $18 plus shipping (not cheap to ship, this 6 lb book) on eBay. There are several intermediary editions since the original ’61 English edition and they can be had used for various prices. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they weren’t revising this at the moment and that soon, you’ll be able to get this edition for half price at a used bookstore. It took them 25 years to update the first English edition but only 13 years for the second, so perhaps we’ll see a new edition around the turn of this decade. The latest edition is still a bit creaky considering the explosion of cooking channels, mega culinary stores and an everwidening interest in the culinary arts. 

    I would have thrown in Escoffier’s Cookbook for the überfan, but that deserves its own post down the road. Escoffier did write the introduction to the original 1938 French edition, which came out after he died. The original editon of Larousse was published by Crown, the NY publisher that also published my ’63 slightly abridged edition of Escoffier’s Cookbook. But more on that at a later date.