I Know How to Cook
By Ginette Mathiot


The sticker on the cover of I Know How to Cook states that it's "the Bible of home cooking". Apart from the fact that it leaves out one important word - "French" - the blurb is an important clue to the contents: this is a cookbook for dishes you can easily cook at home for your family. Don't come here looking for complex, "cheffy" dishes that take ages to prepare and have multiple components; most of Ginette Mathiot's recipes call for fewer than a dozen ingredients, including staples such as eggs, aromatics, dry spices and butter or oil. Other ingredients, such as caul fat and raw ham in brine, might be harder to find in Hong Kong, but you have to remember that this is a translation of a book written for a French audience.

It's also worth noting that it was first published in 1932 (although it's been revised and updated several times), a time when cooking at home was considered part of everyday life: children were taught to cook by their parents, so cookbook instructions didn't have to explain everything down to the smallest detail. If you don't know how to cook, you might need to look online (or in another cookbook) to expand on the instructions given here, which are very brief.

The book - which runs close to 1,000 pages, includes recipes for classic French dishes such as ham with parsley; blanquette de veau; cassoulet; rabbit stew; dauphinoise potatoes; pork rillettes; marinated herring fillets; almond tuiles; and chocolate souffle.