How to Lower Your Cholesterol With French Gourmet Food: A Practical Guide
Reviewed by MM Pack, Fri., Oct. 16, 2009
How to Lower Your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food: A Practical Guideby Alain Braux
Alain Braux International Publishing, 269 pp., $19.95 (paper)
If you've been eating around Austin for a while, it's likely you've encountered the food artistry of Alain Braux. Since the 1980s, this classically trained pastry chef has cooked in various local venues, such as the Amandine Bakery and the Barr Mansion. He also taught baking and pastry at the Culinary Academy of Austin.
Now Braux's culinary career has veered in a different direction. Interested in healthy eating, he asked, "Wouldn't it be great if I could combine my 30 years of knowledge as a chef and my newfound interest in nutrition?" After obtaining a degree from the Clayton College of Holistic Health, he became the executive chef for Peoples Rx, and he maintains a nutritherapy practice. Braux has written this personal guide to eating healthfully, particularly in terms of controlling cholesterol. He's convinced that healthy eating and sophisticated, flavorful foods aren't mutually exclusive. Although traditionally French, Braux offers updated approaches to cooking and eating for health and pleasure.
The book includes a disquisition on health, disease, and American diet, and it discusses how specific foods affect cholesterol. The second half is dedicated to beautiful, enticing recipes. With roots in French family cooking and burnished by decades of professional cooking, Braux's recipes are adjusted toward health without sacrificing flavor. If you're conversant with French provincial food, many dishes are familiar. Most are simple, and Braux embraces quick weekday preparations. Despite what you might expect, there are meat dishes and, in a bow to his pastry background, some elegant desserts, including a raspberry soufflé "like a cloud" and cocoa-and-almond meringues.
Each recette is titled in French and English – the better to practice French food words. Doesn't pamplemousse sound more fun than grapefruit? Or pain de viande aux herbes du Midi than Southern France meat loaf?
My only quibble is the difficulty in finding specific information. There's no index, simply a 12-page table of contents. Because page numbers are positioned on the top inside corners, it's not easy to locate a page. The text refers to influencing nutritionists and studies; a bibliography of sources would be helpful for further reading.
One of the book's pleasures is Braux's distinctive voice. He's relaxed and quirkily conversational, as if he's chatting over a glass of vin rouge and a petite pissaladière. His recipes sure make you want to get cooking. As he says, "Miam! (Yum!)"
To have the author sign your book, stop by the West Lake Peoples Rx, 4201 Westbank, Monday through Friday.