For my first post this year, I want to share some books that I read recently, much enjoyed, and reviewed on this blog. Reading these books is like an imaginary voyage to Paris and other wonderful places in France. I was celebrating Paris in May and June, not just July, here at this blog.
- First there's the delightful novel Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery, which I read in May and reviewed HERE. Barbery became famous around a decade ago for her novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which takes place in a Paris apartment building on rue de Grenelle. The same apartment building is also the site of Gourmet Rhapsody. So this earlier novel, published in French in 2000 and in English in 2009, is a perfect book to start an imaginary trip to Paris.
- Second is the wonderful food memoir When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman, first published in 1976. Kamman was a well-known as a chef and cookbook writer. I read it in June and reviewed HERE. Kamman begins with her memories of her own great-grandmother in Paris when she was a small child before World War II. The book is filled with memories of women who made marvelous French food and taught Kamman to cook. So this is a perfect book to continue an imaginary Paris visit.
- Third, the famous chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) wrote a collection of memoirs about his life as an entrepreneur, an inventor of recipes, and an innovator of new restaurant practices. His heirs assembled this book from his papers after his death; the first English edition was published in 1996. I reviewed it HERE.
- Most recently, I read A Taste for Vengeance, the nineteenth in Martin Walker's series Bruno, Chief of Police. It was just published in June, 2018. I reviewed it HERE. All of the books in the series take place in the fictitious and idyllic town of Saint-Denis in the Périgord region of France: so not quite in Paris. Still, any of the Bruno books, which are full of amazing food descriptions as well as suspenseful detecting, would be a good choice for an imaginary trip to France.
To help your imagination here is an appreciation of the croissants in Paris compared to those in Bruno's perfect bakery in his perfect provincial town in the provinces. From A Taste for Vengeance:
"'I thought the croissants were pretty damn good in Paris, but this is in a different class altogether,' Hodge said.
"'Where do you go in Paris?' Bruno asked.
"'I’m working my way through the ones that won the prizes for the best in the city. My favorites are Poilâne on the rue du Cherche Midi and Blé Sucré, off the rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine. The coffee here is as good too.'" (Kindle Locations 3211-3214)