Monday, May 17, 2010

Learn About Romance, Eating, and Living French-Style in 'Lunch in Paris'

My favorite type of non-fiction is the foodie/travel/memoir. Kim Sunee did an excellent job with her 2008 book Trail of Crumbs, which details her story of adoption from South Korea to New Orleans, then eventual move to France, and now I've found my next Sunee -- Elizabeth Bard and her memoir Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes. Bard is a journalist from the United States who found herself living in London, and then -- by accident of love -- in Paris.

As Bard recalls her romance with Gwendal, a Frenchman through and through, she examines her true ambitions and how they fit with her new life in a slow-paced city. And, of course, she details each meal. Bard includes a wide scope of all things French, from the open air markets where she buys vegetables each day to the butcher shop with its crazy schedule (closed Monday, open Tuesday through Saturday but closed from 1pm - 3:30pm for lunch, closed Thursday afternoons, open Sunday mornings). Most importantly, she discusses the importance of eating in France and its link to social customs. She talks in detail about the food served at her wedding, the sixteen-course North African meal served on New Year's Eve by her brother-in-law, and a Passover feast she herself prepares.

Included throughout the memoir sections are recipes, which Bard explains are just starting points -- with each, she offers other ingredients which could be used, variations on preparation, and multiple serving suggestions. Some are not things I would probably ever make (I'm not even sure where I would find whole Octopus in the middle of Tennessee in order to make a salad...), but others are excellent -- a chocolate souffle cake and a method for cooking fish wrapped in packets in the oven come to mind immediately as recipes I will try in the near future.

Bard writes a foodie blog called Lunch in Paris, where she continues to share daily recipes.

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