January 23, 2011

Plats du Jour

I picked up this beautiful cookbook in a second hand bookshop last weekend.

Front and back covers 

I'm shameless. I bought it simply because I love the cover. Both front and back. Plus it was $4. And it's full of basic classic French and Italian dishes, with a very few Eastern and Northern European recipes, too. 

Thankfully, no photos frighten the reader with bilious coloured late-50s carrot flowers and piped mousses, yet it's clearly written for a British public who were just getting an inkling about Continental food (published 1957). 

But that's not what I bought it for. I bought it to read and enjoy the period piece it is. And for the illustrations, because they're just plain gorgeous.  

David Gentleman is the illustrator. I knew it was a bit of a classic cover, but I hadn't realised what a famous illustrator Gentleman is. His long and varied career has covered illustration, poster, book and stamp design. Apparently, he's one of the UK's most prolific stamp designers ever. I couldn't find a lot of his other work online (book illustration is mainly under-represented as art), but there's this nice collection of Gentleman's works in the Tate.

Gentleman draws hairy-armed men on bicycles with swags of onions, but he also depicts the cuts of beef and how to cut a schnitzel (across the garin of the meat, in case you are wondering - which Marcella tells us means the meat won't curl in the heat, of course). He draws hunters standing around with a dog, and the kitchen range, and a variety of lovely things I'll scan and share when time permits.

Clarity of line and good humour. But not too cute. I love it. (The wine was nice, too.)


Nikki said...

What a find!!! I'd have bought it for the cover, too.

North of Bell Street said...

Hi Bev, adorable cover - I know what you mean about not too cutesy, I'm reeling from an excess of cuteness in illustration.
Must admit I'm a sucker for all things pink too so this book definitely would have caught my eye in that second-hand store.
Must be time for a lunch catch-up soon!
:-) Bridie