Friday, January 6, 2012

Not Buttered Toast

The authors of The Home Book of French Cooking, which used to be titled Simple Masterpieces of French Cooking, declare that “No cuisine in the world is as delectable or as exciting as that of France.”

Perhaps they can stand by this outrageous claim because of their definition of “simple.” For example, their simple-sounding recipe for Buttered Toast appears at first glance to be a joke: who needs a recipe for buttered toast? But the recipe calls for 6 slices of bread and 2 tablespoons of butter at room temperature.

Simple enough.

But no. The directions are as follows:

Toast the slices of bread. Spread them with the softened butter. Place the buttered toast on individual plates. On each slice put a hamburger, with the egg on top. Spoon a little of the sauce over each portion. Serve immediately, with the remaining sauce in a sauceboat.


It is only then that you realize that the buttered toast is not actually a recipe, but part of a much larger meal called Hamburgers Créole on Toast.

What should be simple is made far more complicated by bad book design:
in this case, a little bait-and-switch. Prominently advertising “Over 500 fabulous French recipes” on the cover makes it seem like you’re getting 500 actual recipes — but you’re not; some of those are only parts of recipes.

Tut tut tut, as the French would say.

The Home Book of French Cooking, Crest Books, 1955
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