by Ann Mah

Reviewer Rating:


The author was excited when her husband got a prime diplomatic post--Paris. They could explore together, eat, travel, find new favorite places. Then he received word that he was to go to Baghdad for a year--a place spouses aren't allowed to follow. Suddenly, Mah was faced with a year in Paris alone--how would she make the most of it? By eating her way around the country. While her struggles with loneliness, finding work, making friends make up some of this book, most of it is centered around food. Mah traveled to 10 French regions in order to research and eat one of their most famous dishes. She learns about history, traditional ingredients (usually ones grown in that particular region), names, societies devoted to scoring and preserving these traditions, and more. While of course not a comprehensive history of French food, this book is a fun exploration of the diversity of landscape, culture, and food found in France. Some of the dishes you might find familiar--boeuf bourguignon, fondue, crepes. Others--choucroute (literally, cabbage cabbage), aligot might be more unfamiliar, and are not often found on U.S. restaurant menus (aligot, for instance, requires cheese less than 3 days old). This book will leave you hungry, and possibly get you started on planning your own eating tour of France. Recipes (sometimes modified to take into account ingredients more commonly available in U.S. grocery stores, and with some notes on where you can mail order specific ingredients) included.

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