Modern Garde Manger: Culinary Skills to Impress and Terrify

cover of Modern Garde Manger

I'm not sure how I discovered Robert Garlough and Angus Campbell's Modern Garde Manger in the U-M Library's collections. I suspect I was looking for Food for Fifty (a cookbook that helped me survive a long-ago summer spent cooking for campers) and got distracted.

Modern Garde Manger is large and impressive and must have stood out on the shelf. As I turned to a random page, whatever surprise I felt at the library's breadth of books on quantity cooking was quickly replaced by shock. This is what I saw:

fish "en lorngette"
Fish "en lorngette," from Modern Garde Manger

I thought to myself, why on earth would I prepare a fish this way? And, who has time to sit around imagining ways to make a raw fish look pretty? Many of the demonstrated cuts were decorative, not practical, involving a level of detail I rarely (or never) apply to my own home cooking (don't get me started on the bird self-trussed with its own beak on page 434, or the watermelon carved to look shoe and stuffed with flower-shaped vegetables on page 651). I found the book so startling and delightful, I checked it out. Multiple times.

various fruit and vegetable preparations
"Figures 19-10a to 19-10d illustrate how a watermelon can be carved into an attractive flower vase designed to resemble a Dutch wooden shoe."

The University of Michigan doesn't have a culinary program, which begs the question, what is the value of a professional culinary textbook to a primarily non-professional audience? Here are a few reasons I encourage you to check out this book and explore similar titles in our catalog:

  1. You'll learn what's possible. Even if you're not planning to become a professional chef, this book will give you a great sense of the countless ways foods can be prepared and presented. The techniques will impress, inspire, and sometimes terrify.
  2. You'll see what separates the amateurs from the pros. Reading this book, you'll get a thorough introduction to the professional kitchen brigade system and an insider's look at equipment that's used in commercial kitchens.
  3. You'll find details that are missing elsewhere. Frustrated that your trendy chef cookbook assumes you already know how to de-beak an octopus? This text will show you step-by-step how to perform tasks other books may assume you already know.
  4. You'll pick up some neat tricks. Even though some of this book's preparations are best left to the pros, there are plenty of tips that anyone can master (e.g., arranging a cheese tasting, making scallion and radish flowers).