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About the Author

Madeleine Kamman was born Madeleine Marguerite Pin in Courbevoie, France on November 22, 1930. She attended the Sorbonne and studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She was working as a reservations manager in Paris for Swissair when she met her future husband Alan Kamman. They married in 1960 show more and moved to the Philadelphia area. In 1968, she was teaching cooking at home and in adult education classes when she wrote a letter to The New York Times food editor criticizing a recipe for snails provençale on toast that was printed in the newspaper. After moving to Massachusetts, she opened a cooking school and restaurant in Newton Centre. She later taught cooking in Annecy, France and at the Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena, California. She also opened another school and restaurant in Glen, New Hampshire. She wrote several books including The Making of a Cook and When French Women Cook. From 1984 to 1991, she had her own PBS series. She died on July 16, 2018 at the age of 87. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Madeleine Kamman

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Common Knowledge



2023 - ‘70’s Immersion Reading Challenge

When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman (1976; 1982 ed.) 371 pages.

This is part memoir and part cookbook. The recipes are not very practical for cooking in the United States because of the hard to find, nonexistent, or priced right out of my budget ingredients. Trust me! I called around for this or that special ingredient with no luck at all. The recipes are separated by provinces, and each province highlights a special person, time and place for the author during her lifetime. Love the idea! But, I definitely would have appreciated her stories more if I were from France. She was very descriptive of her memories in the different provinces of France while running away from the war in the 1940’s and name dropped so many French place names and French names for dishes and cookware, which left me almost completely lost. But, if you are French, you will undoubtedly l-o-v-e this book.


I did find at least one recipe with common and easy to find ingredients: Basic Stewed Tomatoes for Provençal Dishes (p. 332). 1-star. Very dull! I’m from Southeast Texas. We eat more robust food. I had to add so much more garlic, olive oil, basil, red pepper flakes, and a little Slap Your Mama Cajun Seasoning just to get some flavor in there.

At the beginning of the book, the author does suggest a few basic suitable substitutions to use in French recipes. Apparently, America’s dairy food is crap and we don’t know what we are missing. That was back in the ‘70’s, and I’m sure it’s worse today. They are worthy of noting down here since I won’t be keeping this book in my library of cookbooks.


Stick to AA 93 graded butter. Kamman says some of our butters in the U.S. are absolutely rancid compared to French butters. Unfortunately, our butters don’t show a grade. Go figure!


Can’t be made here in U.S. because of the extra crap (preservatives and hormones and the feed fed to cattle) in our dairy milk. As a substitute, just use heavy cream, reduced by cooking down, and blending with a little good quality sour cream and correct taste with a few drops of lemon juice.


Read label! Do not use sour cream with preservatives, stabilizers or added milk solids….if you can find it.

There’s more…but why go on. I give up! Our food is just so adulterated, it is sickening!

More about Madeleine Kamman (1930-2018)

Featured on PBS as a cooking show host: “Madeleine Cooks” (1984-1991). A few of these can be found on YouTube. Interestingly, her and Julia Child were very competitive and had a general dislike for one another. Kamman refused to accept Julia as a true French chef and Julia refused to eat at Madeleine’s 5-star restaurant…and even refused to say her name in public. Julia referred to Madeleine as “that woman”. Ha! Women!
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MissysBookshelf | 1 other review | Aug 27, 2023 |
pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
I can't say I've learned much from this book yet. It's more intruiging than educational, at least so far.
BrianDewey | 1 other review | Aug 7, 2007 |



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