This is the second in my “Travel Reading” series of posts. For a list of books that deal with French culture and politics in general (and are a great place to start your exploration), check out my post, “Travel Reading: French Culture,”
Do you dream of buttery croissants? Have you ever quested to find the best salade niçoise or canard confit in France? Would you rather drive halfway across town to find the most traditional baguette than settle for the mediocre rendition at your local grocery store? Does the idea of researching and preparing a traditional coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon sound more appealing than going out for a steak? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you and I have much in common and I hope we get to share a meal together someday. Until then, I hope you enjoy my recommended Francophile foodie reading.
Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France
by Michael Steinberger (2009)
This new release by Michael Steinberger examines the state of French food today, which, as he explains, is inextricably linked to the politics of globalization. He discusses how the famed Michelin Guide has actually hindered innovation in French cuisine, and how many French chefs have begun to look to nearby Spain for inspiration. The declining state of the French economy has also taken its toll on the restaurant industry. Few French can afford to eat in France’s finer restaurants due to the nearly 20% tax (this was recently changed, however, and currently stands at 5.5%). Moreover, the French government continues to interfere with agriculture, wine, food, and restaurants industry, producing negative consequences. Au Revoir to All That uses French culinary culture as a wide-angle lens through which to view France’s challenges in the face of globalization. An interesting read for foodies, sociologists, and those interested in French culture and politics.
Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris
by Clotilde Dusoulier (2008)
Dusoulier became an overnight sensation thanks to the success of her blog, “Chocolate and Zucchini”. Her most recent book, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, is part travel guide, part recipe book. The first part of the book, organized by arrondissement, provides dining suggestions for all tastes and budgets. The second part features lists of markets, bakeries, cheese shops and other specialty outlets to make your Parisian food shopping a snap.
Scattered throughout this aesthetically pleasing book are suggestions on restaurant etiquette, the best time to dine, etc., as well as scads of tempting recipes. Dusoulier’s conversational style makes for a fun and informative read. An added bonus: the book is small enough to fit in your purse. I always have it on hand when I’m in Paris.
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City
by David Lebovitz (2009)
I struggled with whether to include this “hot off the press” book here or in my “Travel Reading: Personal Narratives on Life in France” post, since it truly fits in either. Half memoir, half foodie lit, Lebovitz, celebrated pastry chef and Chez Panisse alumnus, gives us a page turning memoir (including lots of recipes) that will expand your understanding of France’s culinary traditions (and some cultural nuances not related to food at all!). I enjoyed this book both for Lebovitz’s cheeky writing style and for the variety and quality of the recipes, both savory and sweet.
All of these books are available at Amazon.com.