Escoffier Cookbook

The is indispensable in my kitchen when it comes time to prepare fancy Victorian delights for the annual Past Presidents Night Gala at the Old Colony Club.  

Favorites from here are far too numerous to mention. There are almost 3,000 recipes in here.

There are no images and the directions are often sketchy, as if Monsieur Escoffier intended for it to be read by his highly-trained staff. Knowledge of many techniques is assumed, but they are not common knowledge today. For example, many recipes require you to poele a chicken breast or some other piece of meat. He spends two pages describing the procedure and its history, and offering additional remarks about it, but it is easy to come away unsure of what makes this technique different from other, similar techniques.

So this means you have to read carefully and build in your mind an image of what the master was making, and think through the steps aware that his idea of a technique may not be what your mother taught you. Gradually you build confidence along with a sense of how his students learned to cook. I have found that process immensely rewarding and fun.