The Provence Cookbookby Patricia Wells
HarperCollins, 338 pp., $29.95
Patricia Wells has a pretty nice life. She's the food critic for the International Herald Tribune, which allows her to eat in some of Europe's finest restaurants. Because she's the author of nine books about France (two of which I take with me every time I go), she's constantly roaming the countryside, where, as it says here, "she visits farmers and chefs, shopkeepers and bakers, sampling their wares and learning their secrets."
Since she and her husband purchased a farmhouse in Provence, she's clearly got the opportunity to spend time in and learn about the area, all the while putting together delicious recipes for our home entertainment. Most of the recipes can be made from local ingredients, and none seem terribly difficult. Think of it as simple home cooking from France. But the real benefit for us goes way beyond the recipes. Wells spends a good part of the book teaching us about the benefit of good ingredients and how to pick them. Nearly every recipe has a good accompanying wine recommendation. In fact, The Provence Cookbook is more than a collection of recipes it's an armchair gastronome's travel book.