Essential Pepin

Are you confused about what to eat? Many people are. One person who is not confused is Jacques Pepin. As you can see from the title of his newest cookbook, Essential Pepin: 700 Favorites from My Life in Food, there are a lot of things he likes to eat, and he hopes you will too, and there is no fear in him. Sugar, chocolate, gluten, grains, red meat, salt, butter, wine, fruit, shellfish: bring it all on! He cooks like he learned to growing up in France, at his family’s restaurant. His exuberance about cooking and his pure enjoyment of food is refreshingly captured in the companion dvd series of the same name.

Watching Jacques cook is pure fun. Though he has lived in the US for ages, and speaks perfect English, he is so French. And he is an expert. With knives flashing (sharp ones at that), and one dish in the oven and two on the stove, he is masterful in the kitchen. Food obeys him. Sauces hold together and omelets flip and onions practically chop themselves. (How does he do that? I have a feeling taking notes doesn't help.) He is always sipping the ubiquitous glass of wine, a la Julia, and carrying on an amusing narrative while he creates his numerous, delectable dishes. He exhorts all cooks, all fear aside, to have a love affair with good food. His motto: “Happy cooking!”.