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By Joel Kasow

PARIS, 21 November 2006 —Francine Segan’s Opera Lover’s Cookbook initiates the Christmas season, when we are inundated with that object known as the coffee table book. My first test for any cookbook is to see how many recipes call out to me, and here the result was total failure. The subtitle tells it all – Menus for elegant entertaining – with chapters entitled: "Bel canto elegant five-course dinner", "Tapas party with Carmen", "Très chic cocktail party", "Ein grand souper" , "All-American brunch with Gershwin", etc., terminating with a " Hansel and Gretel children’s party". Segan also gives us numerous cocktail recipes and suggests to us what music to play during dinner. She is adamant on using freshly grated nutmeg rather than powdered, a dictum with which we wholly agree. While we enjoy cookbooks with narrative, we prefer the narrative to be relevant, for example, to the provenance of the recipe. How often do we need to be told that something is "the greatest …". The photos by Mark Thomas by Mark Thomas are works of art in themselves, alongside the numerous photos of opera productions, primarily from theThe Metropolitan Opera, whose Guild is associated with the publication. A foreword by Renée Fleming may be an added attraction for some.

The Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining
by Francine Segan, Renée Fleming (Foreword), Mark Thomas (Photographer)
Hardcover: 224 pages
Stewart, Tabori and Chang (1 November 2006), New York
ISBN: 1584795360

Related CK Archives: Rossini at the Ritz

Joel Kasow is the Operanet editor of Culturekiosque.com

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