Book Review: Local Flavor

Five Austin cookbooks to sink your teeth into

Local Flavor

Paleo French Cuisine

by Alain Braux
Alain Braux International Publishing, 252 pp., $19.95 (paper)

Paleo French Cuisine by local chef Alain Braux may initially appear intimidating, possibly even perplexing (French and paleo?!), but don't let the title fool you. This collection of paleo recipes paired with Braux's playful French twist offers a simple yet refined approach to every course.

Based on the premise that our modern diet and production methods are making us sick, the paleo diet is part of a burgeoning movement to return to our latent hunter-gatherer roots. Braux, inspired by Dr. Jean Seignalet, author of L'alimentation ou la Troisième Médecine or Nourishment or the Third Medicine, varies from standard versions of the so-called caveman diet. According to Braux, it is not pure paleo in the hardcore way (read: the diet of CrossFit enthusiasts), but instead his interpretation is based on his experience as a French chef and nutritional therapist.

Braux remains true to modern paleo by relying heavily on grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, eggs, fish, and a variety of fruits and veggies, while excluding grains, dairy, refined salt and sugar, legumes, and anything processed. From the classically French coq au vin rouge and beef bourguignon to the Texas Turkey Meatloaf and double chocolate-chip paleo cookies, Braux's collection charms and pleases. The guide portion, with its emphasis on better health for better living, provides a practical framework for shopping (locally and seasonally), cooking (no higher than 230 degrees), nutrition (organic, non-GMO), and a brief history of the paleo diet.

Braux asks readers to eat themselves healthy, and luckily he's found a way to make it not only enjoyable but downright decadent. Personal favorites included the oeufs brouilles aux merguez or merguez scrambled eggs (substituting chorizo if merguez is unavailable), the galettes aux amandes et bananes or almond banana pancakes, and the straightforward and deceptively delicious champignons marinés crus, raw vinegar-and-herb-marinated mushrooms.

Recent winner of the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Award in the regional cookbooks category, the unassuming book and its cover give little indication of the delights inside. My copy is already dog-eared and well-used. Braux, executive chef and nutrition therapist at Peoples Rx, has created a lovely handbook for keeping the pounds off while feeding your inner French soul. Bon appétit.

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