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Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses    by Ludo Lefebvre & Martin Booe order for
by Ludo Lefebvre
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If the provocative cover photo of Chef Ludo Lefebvre doesn't induce you to open this cookbook, the scrumptious photos on the back cover should titillate your taste buds. 'Cook with love' is Ludo Lefebvre's mantra told to him by one of his mentors, Alain Passard. Which, Leefbvre says 'means a commitment to excellence and a passion for perfection. On a deeper level, cooking (and, of course, eating) with love means opening up all of our senses to each step of the process.'

This lovely cookbook is divided into five sections, each corresponding to one of those five senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. Be sure to read the introduction and you can then understand this chef's love affair with cooking. He says it so much more eloquently than I ever could. His words about buying your ingredients border on the lyrical but are bursting with good sense. His tips on cooking follow and you'd be wise to read this short section. For instance, don't salt the water you cook your vegetables in. It will make the vegetables tough. Salt sparingly after cooking.

What chef could cook without herbs and spices? Lefebvre lists his favorites along with their proper uses and properties. He states that 'Before the first forkful of food enters our mouths, we have already begun eating - with our eyes.' He also concedes that our noses might lead the way to a particularly aromatic dish. The book continues on, through the senses. Page 32 is not to be missed. Lefebvre's choice of words reveals the reverence he feels for the art of cooking. His cuisine is that of today's French style not the old way of hiding everything with sauces.

Now to the wonderful recipes with gastronomically gorgeous photographs accompanying the text. Bring on Yellow Peach Tart with Lemon Verbena; Gently Cooked Ahi Infused with Vanilla; Escargots with Shallot Mousse and Parsley Coulis; Duck Dusted with Grand Caravan Spices with Caramelized Spiced Pears and Baby Root Vegetables; Jubilee of Cherries with Kirsch, Mint, and Vanilla Ice Cream; Napoleons of Puff Pastry with Vanilla-Whiskey Cream.

I could easily continue, but you get the idea. Crave is filled with a man's love for his work and the fine food that love has produced. It's a book sure to get dog-eared from use. What a lovely gift it would make.

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