Available on ckbk now

Simple French Food

by Richard Olney


Richard Olney’s 1974 classic is consistently rated ckbk’s ‘most recommended’ for good reason. The American-born food writer’s prose is so elegant, his recipes so surprisingly concise, and his thoughts and reflections on Provencal village life, gastronomy, wine, and human nature so knowing and well observed that the book demands to be read and re-read – and, most of all, to be cooked from.

from the publisher

Richard Olney was considered a culinary genius for his ability to elevate cooking to a practical art. He wrote evocatively about the beauty and pleasure in cooking by focusing on preparing simple foods well. This new edition of his classic cookbook includes a fresh cover, new interior design, and a foreword by Mark Bittman—so that a whole new generation of food lovers can enjoy this inspiring book. Olney’s 175 recipes are so straightforward that cooks will be inspired to go right into the kitchen: herb omelets, fish with zucchini, lamb shanks with garlic, and many more. He also shares techniques (several featuring his own illustrations), such as fermenting vinegar, in line with the back-to-basics trend in cooking. Olney’s emphasis on simplicity and improvisation in cooking will resonate with today’s cooks and food lovers.

Most popular

Original Publisher
Date of publication

Features & Stories

A route through ckbk’s French cookbook collection

A route through ckbk’s French cookbook collection

Loving French food is easy. Finding exactly what kind of French food to cook, learn about and discover is a bit more complicated. This route through France’s regions, chefs and cooking styles will help you find the best of French cuisine

Recommended by

Allan Jenkins

Editor, Observer Food Monthly,

I am in a bit of a panic, I can't find my copy. I have lent it to someone and I don't remember who and it seems they have forgotten. All Olney's books are brilliant. I chaired a panel that declared his French Menu Cookbook the best of all time. But for my own taste, this edges the others. As much about good eating as cooking (obviously), now where the hell is mine?

Skye Gyngell

Chef and Author

Although I've owned this book for over twenty years it still gives me great pleasure as I turn each page. Each summer we put on the menu his beautiful dish of rabbit with cucumbers - it's one of my favourite summer dishes.

Cheryl Cohen

Farmer's market organizer

When I first read this, the list of ingredients was a revelation. Rocket was unknown, so I found the seed and grew it myself. The pages on the Impromptu Composed Salad should be required reading.

Francis Percival

Food Editor, The World of Fine Wine and co-founder and convenor of the London Gastronomy Seminars

Elizabeth David was the better prose stylist, but I have always found Richard Olney's recipes easier to follow...

Rita Erlich

Food writer

Nothing's actually simple, but it conveys such understanding of French cooking. Also Lulu's Provencal Table.

John Birdsall

Food Writer

Makes the case for French food as an ethos and a feeling, not a compendium of exact formulas.

Paul Levy

Writer and former chair of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery

The seminal book from one of the few writers/cooks ever to create a genuinely new recipe.

Tamasin Day-Lewis

Writer, film maker

Wholly unpretentious local recipes, and a life in food/food in life feel.

Fran Warde


A small and tasty gem of a cookery book.

Marian Morash

Chef, gardener and TV presenter

Tim Hunt


Molly Stevens

Cookbook author

Tamar Adler

Food writer

Jody Williams

Chef and owner of Buvette

Cindy Pawlcyn

Founder/owner of Mustards Grill, and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

Chris Young

Co-founder of ChefSteps and author

Russ Parsons

Food columnist of LA Times

Ruth Rogers

American born British Chef who owns and runs the Michelin Star Italian restaurant, The River Cafe

Jill Norman

Author and editor

Matthew Fort

Food writer and critic

Edward Behr

Editor, The Art of Eating

Stephanie Alexander

Food writer, former restaurateur, food educator

Lucas Hollweg

Food writer

Lindsey Shere

Pastry chef

Chris Fischer

Chef and farmer

Kevin Gould

Professional Food Lover

Charles Shere

Writer and composer

Paul Kahan

Executive Chef and Partner

Sonia Cabano

Author, former chef & TV cook/presenter

Gary Rhodes

Chef, restaurateur, author

Clark Wolf

Consultant and writer