The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings for the French Countryside

Food, Non-Fiction
  • * Winner of the Best Book on France by a Non-French Writer, at the Versailles Cookbook Fair

  • * Finalist for the Julia Child Award, the Gourmet Magazine Award, and "Best Cookbook of the Year" sponsored by IACP

  • * Nominated in the international category of the KitchenAid Book Awards of the James Beard Foundation Awards.

A unique blend of stylish cookbook and earthy garden story, here is a collection of 250 recipes derived from a centuries-old French kitchen garden. The stunning debut of a lively new culinary voice, The Cook and the Gardener chronicles a year in the life of the walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey and its taciturn, resourceful, charmingly sly peasant caretaker. Using the fruits and vegetables harvested from Monsieur Milbert’s garden, Amanda Hesser creates four seasons of recipes tied ineluctably to the land and the all-but-forgotten practices upheld by Milbert. Hesser’s sublimely simple recipes—each with accessible ingredients and clear notes and instructions—also tell a story. They are a month-by-month record of the ingredients available to her, so that this cookbook also serves as an almanac for cooks. Special “Basics” sections at the opening of each season lay the culinary groundwork for the recipes that follow. Tips on how to buy, store, and prepare particular vegetables, fruits, and herbs are presented in margin notes to recipes. By bringing the kitchen closer to the garden, The Cook and the Gardener gives home cooks a new understanding of the produce they have on hand, whether from the supermarket, the farmer’s market, or their own gardens. At the same time, it captures the quirky customs and wily wisdom of a vanishing way of life in provincial France.