Features & Stories

Magrets & Mushrooms - a ckbk original

Jeanne Strang’s Goose Fat & Garlic is arguably the classic work on the regional cooking of South-West France, and has been reprinted many times since its publication in 1991.
Today ckbk is proud to publish Magrets & Mushrooms, the long-awaited sequel to this work. The new book is the first publication in a new series of “ckbk originals”, published under ckbk’s own imprint and available in print, as a Kindle ebook, and via the ckbk app.

Read more about Magrets & Mushrooms in this extract from the foreword by Orlando Murrin, founder of Olive Magazine and President of the Guild of Food Writers.

By Orlando Murrin

In 1961, long before it was fashionable, Paul and Jeanne Strang bought an abandoned farmhouse in the Aveyron, in the heart of South-West France - La France Profonde. He was a solicitor, she a book editor, and thus began a 60 year love affair with the Aveyron, their neighbours and the French way of life.

In the crowded field of cookery books, few achieve the status of classics. The works of Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson, and mega-sellers such as Robert Carrier’s Great Dishes of the World (1963) and Delia’s Complete Cookery Course (1992), are exceptions, remaining perpetually in print and on literally millions of British bookshelves.

For the cookbook connoisseur, Jeanne Strang rides equally high. Goose Fat and Garlic (1991) is a work of supreme culinary scholarship, reprinted and revised over thirty years, more than 70,000 copies sold, still readily available. We learn about the region and its history, its geography and farming practices, but above all we learn about its people and their traditions. There doesn’t exist a more authentic, personal and fastidiously researched introduction to the life and mores of rural France.

Jeanne’s publisher, Kyle Cathie, knew she had something exceptional on her hands from the outset. Peter Mayle wrote, ‘Pangs of hunger forced me to stop half way through the cassoulet recipe... fascinating and delicious, it almost tempts me to leave Provence’. Patricia Wells commented, ‘Rich with anecdotes, legends, the stuff of real daily life in South-West France, this is the kind of book you’ll carry right into the kitchen, focusing your energies on meaty daubes, hearty country soups, simple salads dressed with rich, local walnut oil. As you turn the pages you can almost smell the potatoes cooking away with the garlic and parsley, and hear the sizzle of the fire as the leg of lamb turns on the spit. Culling recipes from the baker’s wife, the cafe owner, anyone who would listen, Jeanne Strang has produced a book with a ring of authenticity; a must for all cooks with a sense of curiosity and a dose of ambition.’

For author and France expert Carolyn Boyd, ‘it gives a wonderful insight into a way of life in which nothing is wasted and everything is tasty. It’s a wonderful testament to the region and its people.’ For chef Tom Conran, ‘It’s one of my favourite cookbooks. Untainted by modernity, the recipes read like folk stories of a great culinary tradition which has been passed down through generations for centuries, but which — like a rare animal or plant— is now in danger of extinction.’

Reading this book in 2000 persuaded me to take a walking holiday in the region, and resulted in my moving there in 2004: one of many lives changed by it. Alison Stattersfield, a French cookery enthusiast with a house in the Lot, fell so deeply love with the recipes that she decided to cook her way through them all (there are more than 200) as a retirement project.


When Jeanne died in August 2023, she left a complete manuscript for a new book, Magrets & Mushrooms. As well as a further 138 recipes— now accompanied in the digital edition by Alison Stattersfield’s photographs — this book is a recognition that times change, even in the South West of France. ‘Families that had depended on having a motor car, and probably an old and dilapidated one at that, suddenly found everyone had a car of their own... Neighbours of ours who had never travelled as far as their own county town saw their offspring beginning to enjoy the pleasures of holidays away from home.’

Many of the recipes are traditional, discovered by Jeanne since her first book was published. Others nod in the direction of modernity— though never ‘cheffiness’— and make use of ingredients unheard of in the earlier era: flat peaches, butternut squash, raz-el-hanout and filo pastry. Stick blenders, liquidizers and processors now take their place alongside earthenware pots and cast iron poêles.

The book includes several recipes involving foie gras, a subject on which Jeanne wrote in depth. For a characteristically considered and compassionate study of that issue, I would refer you to the essay she wrote for Gastronomica in 2007. For those seeking wines to accompany the recipes, the definitive guide remains South-West France: The Wines and Winemakers (2009) written by her husband Paul and lavishly photographed by Jason Shenai (her niece’s husband).

What continues to shine bright in Magrets & Mushrooms is Jeanne’s deep affection for the region: a unique blend of warmth and wisdom, leavened with wry observation and gentle humour. If one thinks of Goose Fat & Garlic as a love letter to South-West France, this new book is a renewal of vows, and deserves a place in the bookshelf of every Francophile and admirer of authentic French country cooking.


ckbk Premium Members have access to the full content of Magrets & Mushrooms via the ckbk website and app. You can order a print or ebook copy of Magrets & Mushrooms using the Buy This Book button.

Do you have a cookbook project which you would like to be considered for publication as a ckbk original? Get in touch with us at publisher@ckbk.com.

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