Au Pied de Cochon: The Album

December 2006

As Anthony Bourdain rightly observes in his introduction to Martin Picard’s new book, Au Pied de Cochon: The Album, Picard is a true original, one of those “few, bold adventurers” who actually transcends the hype and faddism that characterize so much of the world of cuisine, who blazes a trail not by embracing innovation for innovation’s sake, but by focusing on the elemental, in this case “all things porky, ducky, fatty and wonderful.”

There’s no question that Picard’s irrepressible genius forms the nucleus of his Montreal restaurant, but more than anything, Au Pied de Cochon: The Album is a testament to the remarkable culture that has been generated over the last five years by Picard in collaboration with his skilled and imaginative équipe.

Yes, there are recipes for all of the restaurant’s no-holds-barred specialties, everything from its foie gras poutine, a delirious riff on Quebec’s alternately beloved and despised casse-croûte staple, to its iconic stuffed pigs’ feet, to its playful duck an a can. But there are also anecdotes, proclamations, testimonials,diagrams, lots and lots of beautifully reproduced photographs, works of art, underground comics (a nod to the vibrant local scene), and even a terrific DVD with over two hours of behind-the-scenes segments, homages to the Québécois terroir, and recipes.

Plainly, this is not your average cookbook. Picard took his time with the book and eventually published it himself—he wanted no limits to be placed on the task of representing Au Pied de Cochon’s first five years. The book that resulted is irreverent, even anarchic at times—it’s also terribly funny, filled with the humor that is the key to Quebec’s unique joie de vivre—yet it remains cohesive and even compelling because it has somehow managed to capture the spirit of Au Pied de Cochon in all its earthy glory.

The only problem with Au Pied de Cochon: The Album is that while other cookbooks inspire you to try and re-create the magic of an acclaimed restaurant at home, this one also makes you want to be at Au Pied de Cochon, experiencing the magic firsthand.

Au Pied de Cochon: The Album is available directly from the restaurant:

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