If you’re going to indulge in one Parisian travel novel this year then THIS IS THE ONE. (Also, you will be hungry as you read the descriptions, so prepare thyself.)
A diplomat’s wife goes to Paris and explores the famous cuisine. No, this is not another bio on Julia Child, instead it’s an incredible wandering in the famous fare of France from Ann Mah. She isn’t approaching the topic as a life-altering journey in finding herself or as a food expert, instead she presents lovely personal stories mixed with research.
Each chapter is based on a dish and the region that it originated from. As a journalist I appreciate that she doesn’t over-dramatize her life in order to make a point. She spends equal amounts of time talking about her experience and the history surrounding the food she is discussing. Through her various conversations with locals you begin to appreciate the variety of regional cuisines in France. The experts are proud and, as Mah presents the food itself, we can see why. From peasant dishes to highly protected and regulated processes, we see the range of delicious eats that have piqued the interest of Mah and all those who have come before her.
I recommend reading this book with a well-stocked kitchen because you will be hungry as you read. Her descriptions are so vivid you can almost smell the lovely dishes cooking in your own kitchen or taste the various wines on your own lips. Luckily, she includes a recipe at the end of each chapter so that we can indulge our cravings properly.
Overall I felt that Mah’s subtle inclusion of her experiences as a diplomat’s wife in Paris matched well with her wanderings in the country. There is definitely a story within her own life worth paying attention to, but she focuses on researching the food around her in such an earnest manner that you too will feel swept up into the countryside to find the secret to the perfect summer soup, or the true recipe for beef bourguignon.
Check this out if like: food, travel, France, history, drooling in public.