Picks and Pans Review: La Varenne Pratique

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Anne Willan

This book is without doubt the most helpful single volume on current cuisine to grace a countertop since Escoffier picked up a spoon. Dicing a carrot will never be the same, unless, of course, you have taken classes at La Varenne, Willan's celebrated cooking school in Paris.

This is not a French cookbook but a practical guide to technique. Take the common egg, for example. With Willan's instructions, watch the whites of deep-fried eggs puff majestically and yolks bake to a tender wiggle. Willan's prose is a pleasure (her style is akin to Elizabeth David's, another English food writer). With this book at the ready, no cook should have any trouble filleting a flounder, sprouting mung beans or lining a tart pan with pâte sucrée. The instructions are precise, the 2,500 color photos are superb. Is anything left out? You probably wouldn't want to know anyway. (Crown, $60)

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