Delicious Indulgences of the Past: Recipes from Legendary Restaurants and Famous Chefs
By Gail Monaghan
Have you ever flipped through a history book and wished you could sample what the royals in France and England were eating for dessert? Or had a hankering for a treat from your childhood, but can’t seem to find the recipe? Gail Monaghan has experienced both sentiments, and she isn’t the type to give up on these forgotten sweets. In Lost Desserts, she culls recipes from the pages of history, from her childhood memories, from old newspapers, historical accounts, century-old cookbooks, chefs and from restaurants that are no longer in business.
Filled with photographs so beautiful that you could frame them and decorate your dining room, Monaghan’s book is not just a simple cookbook. Each recipe section gives a brief history of the creator as well as a cultural history of the dish, describing how different societies adopted or changed the dessert. The entries come from all over Europe—France, England and Italy—and span the United States as well: try Toasted Pecan Balls from Zodiac at Neiman Marcus in Dallas or Orange Chiffon Cake from now-closed The Brown Derby in Los Angeles. The desserts range from traditional American (Edna Lewis’s Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce) to Swiss (Frédy Girardet’s Tarte au Raisiné) to English cuisine (Marbled Rose and Raspberry Fool), and everything in between. If scooping out a bowl of vanilla ice cream is your idea of the perfect dessert, this may not be the book for you, as many recipes require a lot of time and love. But if you pine for the delicacies of the culinary past, Lost Desserts is the treat you’re looking for.
Reviewed by Laurie Hartzell
(Updated: 12/04/08 SB)