This book is part of a genre of cookbooks which inspired cooks of an earlier generation to get to grips with the ethos and practice of French cuisine. Not a very catchy or inspiring description, in a way - but think back to the post war period and consider the impact that Elizabeth David had on her readers, with her descriptions of French regional cooking, mouthwatering chapters / paragraphs on Mediterranean smells and flavours. As a child I remember my parents (following a trip to France in the early 60's) studying Mrs David's French Provincial Cooking - published originally in 1960 - and replicating faithfully her recipes. Julia Child's book was published in the UK a few years later (a couple of years after US publication) and quickly became a new bible. Mrs David's approach was about authentic, unfussy regional cooking - Mrs Child's about fine French cuisine, ambitious in every sense. The two are entirely complementary - and I grew up (gratefully, greedily) under the influence of both.
My parent's copy of MAFC is heavily stained - the 3 pages on onion soup are probably the most frequently read and used in the family cookbook library. It was my Dad's specialty - he would stand over the pan slowly caramelising the onions for the requisite 40 minutes, turning the simplest of ingredients into a meal which was France in a bowl, however cliched that sounds.
I've had my own copy for decades - and while I won't ever be doing...
See my detailed review of the 2 volume set under volume 2. This set is a classic which empowered the home cook and demystified the hold that defined in its day "French" as the height of culinary achievement. Not by demeaning the cuisine but by showing that it cou ld be produced at a very high level in the home kitchen.
This cuisine in the modern world must share the stage with other cuisines of this globe which are highly refined as well.
Just because one is a vegetarian (or almost a vegetarian) , it seems inapprorpriate to demean a book that includes such dishes--any more than it is appropriate to demean a vegetarian book for not including meat or a vegan book for not including milk or eggs.
Trends in food come and go. For example, eating only or primarily what you can produce on your own farm has gained a certain romanticism in current fadism, but is not a reality for real life for most folks. The current locovore fads are seemingly more prevelant in California than in other places. Hmmm. Given the distribution of agricultural production of food for this country this seems fairly easy. Should those of us who live in NYC give up orange juice?