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Beard on Birds

by James Beard

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America's most esteemed culinary instructor, the great James Beard, shares his winning ways with chicken, turkey, goose, duck, and wild game. An essential for home cooks of all levels, this classic guide contains tips, preparation, and cooking techniques for a delicious variety of poultry and game, from basic roasts to unique and challenging dishes for those with more experience in the kitchen. James Beard's recipes are elegant, simple, and timeless; sure to resonate with a whole new generation of cooks.… (more)

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I opened this book and scanned the TOC and said, "What? No grouse?"

Well it turns out that the original book, published in 1944 as "Fowl and Game Cookery", included grouse, along with "squirrel, possum, raccoon, skunk and other four-footed game". Grouse and game were dropped for the 1979 edition because they were no longer available to the average person.

So here we come to the problem of reissuing older cookbooks. Do you copy the original book or update it? I bought a book not too long ago that was about a famous food writer post-WW2. The recipes had been updated by a young woman chef whose mother was only a twinkle when the recipes were written. The update was ridiculous and totally unneeded. Anyone who does not know that people cooked differently back then is woefully uninformed.

Here the revisions are not so heavy handed. Beard himself made the first changes in 1979, dropping the mammals and increasing the number of chicken and turkey recipes. The grouse flew away then.

This Open Road edition seems to be from 1999 and I am not sure that it, of all the editions, is the one I would have chosen. In 1999 few people had access to the wealth of hand-reared birds we have today. I am also put off by the 1999 editor's note that butter and cream had been reduced. Phooey on that. I think the 1999 edition was chosen because it has an intro by Julia Child. Younger readers who might not know of James Beard will be attracted by the mention of Julia Child. (It is a bit of a scam that the same intro used in the other books in the 1999 series.) I would rather read about the skunk.

This is not a modern cookbook. It is not chatty. It is not full of recipes from exotic places. It is not bloated with big pictures. Recipes, ma'am, just recipes. Recipes for excellent food in the style of a bygone era of American cooking.

I received a review copy of "Beard on Birds" by James Beard (Open Road Integrated Media) through NetGalley.com. The original book was published in 1944 and has been revised and reissued in 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2001. ( )
  Dokfintong | Mar 19, 2015 |
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America's most esteemed culinary instructor, the great James Beard, shares his winning ways with chicken, turkey, goose, duck, and wild game. An essential for home cooks of all levels, this classic guide contains tips, preparation, and cooking techniques for a delicious variety of poultry and game, from basic roasts to unique and challenging dishes for those with more experience in the kitchen. James Beard's recipes are elegant, simple, and timeless; sure to resonate with a whole new generation of cooks.

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