Today’s Giveaway book has not been reviewed but reflects Paris and France. (See bottom of post)
Culture Travel Tuesday
by Jessica Voigts
Books: Several about food–read on.
France. What’s the first thing you think of? If you’re anything like me, it’s all about the food. I dream of luscious cheeses, mouthwatering chocolates, special meals, and of course ANYTHING I can get at a boulangerie. Blame it on Molly Wizenberg, Alexander Lobrano, Patricia Wells, and David Lebovitz. Whenever I read books on food and France, the Proustian moment pops up (as expected).
To start this new year off well, I’d like to share my very favorite books on Food and France. Soon, I imagine that you, too, will be trying recipes, reading deep into the cold dark winter nights, and dreaming of walking through the door of your favorite chocolatier or boulangerie, tossing off your order in flawless French.
Long Ago In France: The Years in Dijon, by MFK Fisher
This started it, for me…that life-long love of France and French food. This book is both is a memoir of three years in Dijon as a postgrad student and an ode to exploring, learning, and loving food, by America’s foremost literary food writer. While still on chapter one, I ran to the store and bought a huge jar of Dijon mustard. I put it in vinaigrettes, main dishes, on sandwiches – and also, just opened it and smelled FRANCE. I still remember her descriptions of how the smell of Dijon mustard wafted through the town, and wanted it for myself. This book is, yes, still on my nightstand.
Eat Smart in France: How to decipher the menu, know the market foods, and embark on a tasting adventure, by Ronnie Heiss.
Eat Smart in France is filled with recipes (!), gorgeous photos, the history of French cuisine, tips for shopping, resources for finding ingredients, helpful phrases, a menu guide, food and flavor guide, and a reference guide to the food establishments. Want to know more? You can read our interview with author Ronnie Hess – an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked in France .
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vols. 1 & 2, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
Need I say more? This is THE classic — cookbooks that have inspired movies, books, blogs, and more meals than we can count. It changed the way that Americans cooked, and thought about global cuisines. I haven’t worked my way through them one recipe at a time, but have chosen the dishes I love most to prepare. If you buy one cookbook set, let it be this.
The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz
After I read the review here on A Traveler’s Library, I had to get this book for myself (thank you, ATL!). I was not disappointed – great recipes, marvelous stories of living in France, and pure joy at reading the life of an expat foodie in Paris. Finding spices can be difficult, depending on what you’re looking for. Finding great food? Not so difficult. A glimpse into life in a tiny apartment in Paris? Both cautionary and inspiring. A great, great read. Extra Bonus: LOTS Of chocolate references and recipes.
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg
Not a book about food and France, per se. But the chapters that talk about food and France both inspire and get you in the kitchen. Author Wizenberg (if you haven’t been to her popular blog, Orangette yet, go there first) shares stories and recipes, including of her time in France. I love this kind of book, where you read a bit, and then delve into a recipe. Yes, I’ve made her father’s potato salad, and the dark chocolate ginger banana bread, and, well, almost all of the recipes in the book. Definitely worth a read, for more than the France sections. Want to know the backstory? We talked with Molly at Wandering Educators.
Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants, by Alexander Lobrano
Renowned food writer Lobrano seems to be all over the place – on tv, in the New York Times, Saveur, and a whole host of food magazines. He’s based in Paris. Need I say more? He’s your inside guide to eating well in Paris. Hungry for Paris also addresses cultural aspects of French Cuisine – including manners, mores, history, reservations, and more. Each restaurant Alec recommends is a gem – I almost had to stop reading after each entry, to think about what I’d order, and to visualize its location, chef, and menu for myself. Whether you have a large or small meal budget in Paris, a taste for classical French food or leaning toward ethnic or bistro fare, this book covers it. One key aspect of this book is that it teaches the reader about food in France in “The Happy Eater’s Almanac: How To Have a Perfect Meal in Paris.” Definitely a must-read, and a necessity for your next trip to Paris.
The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, by Adam Gopnik
I’ll read just about anything by Adam Gopnik (love his articles in the New Yorker). He spent years in Paris, and is a true foodie. The essays in this book cover a variety of topics (to eat meat or not; how the modern restaurant started; contemporary French cuisine; history; culture), but it is his paean to food and family, of eating together, of the pleasures of the table (wherever that table may be) that has drawn me in.
And a kids book (because it is never too young to start either cooking or traveling)…
Crepes by Suzette, by Monica Wellington
Monica Wellington is a beloved children’s book author and illustrator. Yes, we’ve read all of her books. But this one, it is something special. Crepes by Suzette follows a crepe maker throughout her day, moving around Paris and making crepes for her customers. You’ll see your favorite Paris landmarks, of course. Wellington is truly creative, though, and works in pictorial references to great works of art. It’s fun, simple to read, teaches about a place and art, and also inspires young chefs. The crepe recipe in the book is a classic – and is the first recipe that our daughter (then 3) ever made. She’s gone on to master many other recipes (and been featured in a cookbook), but this is her very favorite.
Thanks, Jessie. For anyone who is worried about eating cheaply in Paris, check out my e-book, Ten Places to Eat Cheap(er) in Paris.
Today’s prize to one person who comments, subscribes, tweets or mentions us on Google+ is a copy of Parisian Postcards, (not reviewed) a collection of travel essays and travel tips written by Dr. Loui Franke, an American who worked and lived in France. (You can comment on this post or on an earlier post. Just do it before Wednesday, January 11, 3:00 a.m. MST. If you already subscribe by e-mail and want an extra entry as a subscriber, be sure to tell me that in the comments. See complete rules here.)
Disclaimer: Parisian Postcards was supplied by the author. Book cover links that take you to Amazon enable you to shop and although you spend no more, A Traveler’s Library earns a few cents with everything you buy.The photo at the top is Ken’s property. Please do not copy without express permission. Thank you.