Despite the righteous rampage for low-fat everything and meals that magically mitigate calories, many of us still think of French cuisine as the fairest fare of all. A trio of brilliant, French chefs, all honored with many Michelin stars, have produced elegant, inspiring books that are vibrant, visual evocations of their philosophies and their recipes. Alain Ducasse, one of the most celebrated chefs and restauranteurs of the Western World, makes his American cookbook debut with Ducasse: Flavors of France. Large and lavish, with luscious color photographs, this is not a book for the novice; it's more a spectacular seminar in serious French cooking, albeit revitalized, reinterpreted, and lighter than its classic antecedents. Just leafing through it, you can become an arm-chair cook, traveling through a cuisine and a country while sitting snugly at home (divine dishes savored in the imagination have never added an unwelcome pound!). Monsieur Ducasse shares his love and reverence for this venerable cuisine as he shares his very personal recipes from his three famous restaurants in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Provence. These recipes respect the true nature and flavor of foods and range from a light Cocotte of Spring Vegetables to a wonderfully complex sauteed sea bream served with an orange-flecked beef daube sauce. Ducasse's dazzlingly inventive dishes have raised haute cuisine up a notch or two, and there's no reason why they can't do the same for your own culinary accomplishments.

Sybil Pratt is an avid cook.

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