11 January 2010

Boulestin’s Round-the-Year Cookbook

A meal worth eating must take at least an hour and a half; apart from that fact that it is not healthy to eat quickly, there is the point of view whit which we are concerned – the point of view of the pleasure of the table, to which leisure, anticipation, enjoyment contribute equally.

X. Marcel Boulestin

X. Marcel Boulestin began his career in France as a ghostwriter, followed in short succession as a writer, translator and collaborator. Though a Frenchman, he was a lifelong anglophile, finally moving to London. He moved away from writing and followed his other passion, cooking.

In November 1911 Boulestin opened his first restaurant, Boulestin's in Covent Garden. He became a forceful restaurateur who almost single handedly popularized French cuisine in the English-speaking world. His knack for writing came in handy as he authored numerous cookbooks, including Boulestin’s Round-the-Year Cookbook. In 1937, he became the first television chef, appearing on an experimental BBC program.

Here is a recipe for an often-overlooked vegetable featured in his January offerings.

Salsifis Sautés

Take a bundle of salsify, scrape them, wash them well in cold water and a little vinegar. Put in a saucepan a handful of flour, add water, little by little, mixing all the time. When you have enough liquid to cook your salsify, salt and cook on a moderate fire for about half an hour. They should be soft, yet firm. Drain them well and fry them in butter for a few minutes. Add salt, a little lemon juice, and finely chopped parsley.

As for the newer fashionable, shorter dinners, Boulestin says,

"One dish above all must be a star turn, the shining center against the proper background, the climax of which other things, discreetly and effectively, prepare the entrance, increase the value – a dish which your friends will gracefully remember, reverently mention for ever after, and possibly try to imitate in their own houses. “My dear, you must give me the recipe…”

Try making this salsify your star for January.

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