Richard Olney’s The French Menu Cookbook is the world’s greatest cookbook, declares a crack team including Jay Rayner and Heat author Bill Buford. It tops a list of the Guardian’s 50 best cookbooks of all time, a compilation that caught our attention as much for whom it excludes as whom it honors. The roundup pays proper homage to some heavy hitters: The top ten includes Elizabeth David’s undeniably marvelous French Provincial Cooking and Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories, Julia Child clocks in at 21, and MFK Fisher holds steady at 47. But where is Thomas Keller? And for that matter, Mark Bittman?
The two behemoths of cookbook publishing don’t merit a single spot between them — a notable oversight, given that Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook is at the top of virtually every American cook’s most-inspiring list, and Bittman’s How to Cook Everything basically changed the game for home cookery. We’d blame the fact that it’s a British paper and they’re American authors, but considering that more than half the list’s authors are Yanks, that excuse doesn’t hold water. At least they had a kind nod for Momofuku, which was criminally overlooked during awards season this year, but just squeaked into the Guardian’s pantheon at No. 50.