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Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris Paperback – September 9, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st edition (September 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086547236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865472365
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A man of Rabelaisian appetite, with the exquisite palate of the true gastronome and the literary flair to match, A.J. Liebling (1904-1963) was a formidable eater and a remarkable man, and his nostalgic recitation of his years and meals in Paris is a pleasure to read, dream on, and drool about.

Liebling treasured a good appetite as a prerequisite for writing about food, as his accounts of substantial meals (two portions of cassoulet, one steak topped with beef marrow, and a dozen or so oysters, for example) attest. For the poised, precise, literary, and humorous flavor of his writing, you need only crack open the book--any page will do. Liebling recounts how to dine superbly without being lead astray by too much money, and he digresses magnificently on the evils of abstemiousness ("No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures; no ascetic can be considered reliably sane"). In this age of diets and pragmatic health care, it's refreshing to read such an inspired and inspiring ode to pleasure. As a means of savoring a love affair with Paris, sparking an interest in a trip to France, restructuring your priorities for the trip you've already planned, or gearing up on the flight over for the gastronomic debauches to come, Liebling is unsurpassed. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author

A.J. Liebling joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1935, where his "Wayward Press" columns became a model of fine journalistic writing. Other Liebling titles available from North Point Press are Between Meals, The Honest Rainmaker, and The Neutral Corner: Uncollected Boxing Essays.

Customer Reviews

A.J. Liebling was a brilliant reporter for the New Yorker in the 30s-50s, and a passionate lover of Paris and french food.
Thomas Ochiltree II
I read passages of this book out loud to friends and family, most notably the ones dealing with the immense amounts of food, and always got a laugh.
Jason Yarn
The subject matter of the book was neither Paris of the 1920s nor French food, though both crop up with great frequency in his essays.
"knightangel"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This slim volume exudes charm and decadence. It is perfectly written, and evocative of a bygone era, when one could move to Paris without money and experiment with the finest wines and cuisine. Entertaining, obsessive, delightful
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jason Yarn on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book, but if you've never cracked The New Yorker open before, you might not like the style. Very in the moment and tongue in cheek, Liebling is a master wordsmith leaving no offense done to him by the onset of modernity unheckled. Some of the greatest tidbits come when he derrides the famous Michelin Star rating system for French restaurants, now a standard that chefs have literally killed themselves over - Liebling reminds you that its just a rating from a TIRE manufacturer and that he feels it marked the decline of real French cooking.

I read passages of this book out loud to friends and family, most notably the ones dealing with the immense amounts of food, and always got a laugh. This is not a book dealing with the upper crust of French high society, but rather a street wise, in the guts little tome that entertains and educates - though sadly, it is unlikely one can find the Paris that Liebling describes anymore.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Much of Between the Meals, as the title suggests, is about what happens between meals, though the meals are always there in the background. When Liebling talks about friendship and love, he is superb; when he describes his apprenticeship in eating, however, he is incomparable. Others (a few) may write as well; others may have as sensitive a palate, but no serious writer can match Liebling's perverse determination in the pursuit of culinary pleasure and gigantic appetite. This is the finest book on eating ever written by an American. Being a Francophile, Liebling was mistaken in asserting that France is superior to China in its culinary art. He forgot that he was describing the--as he puts it-- "late silver" age of French cuisine, the 1920s, during which most people in China were starving. Today, of course, France is probably in the Bronze age; and the Chinese have just recovered from famines. But that mistake aside, this book is thoroughly satisfying, highly recommended for those,i.e. all of us, who must accept mediocre cooking everyday.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on December 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to say first of all that I'm a sucker for all of the "Paris in the early part of the twentieth century" literature. I love Celine and Miller, but my favorite was Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Well, Between Meals is no A Moveable Feast but it certainly is a high quality read that I can unquestionably recommend to you.

Liebling, make no mistake, is a top notch writer and his sentence structure, use of metaphor, and style have much to offer aspiring wordsmiths. He has an eye for the essential and this is particularly true if you're at all like me as far as food is concerned. Liebling is a true gourmand and, even though I am completely unlearned and unappreciative in regards to fine dining, I still enjoyed his narration and memories of that splendid age.

The best of these essays is "Passable" where he recalls his old girlfriend from his student years. Liebling informs us that he does a poor job in reconstructing her but his description of their romance is quite compelling. I loved that essay just as I did the one on Mirande. This is a world long gone but we're fortunate that books like this are still in print. Reading it will give you a snapshot of beauty that will hang like a Renoir in the corridors of your mind.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian Wallace (Co-author of It's Not Your Hair) on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was strongly recommended to me by a friend who is from Europe and is very discerning when it comes to American writers. I'm glad that I have it.

While not nearly as zany or as challenging as Kerouac or Burroughs, this work, at its best, is rich, insightful and intensely funny: "What he called his pipes("ma tuyauterie"), being insufficiently excercised, lost their tone, like the leg muscles of a retired champion. When, in his kindly effort to please me, he challenged the escargots en pots de chambre, he was like an old fighter who tries a comeback without training for it."

The language is elegant and piercing, despite what the hypercritics have said; and the work stands as an opus to epicurean bliss.

It's well worth the read before, after, or in between the wonderful meals!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John the Reader on May 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books that, as you very reluctantly finish and shelve it you think to yourself "Damn! Where has THIS author been all my life?" Needless to say perhaps (but then we always go on to say it!) my next order is already in and awaited. Brilliant, witty, readable prose from a professional who earnt his keep as a columnist on the great magazine - as it once was - The New Yorker. Born to a well-off family, in the summer 1926, Liebling sailed to Europe where he studied French medieval literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Supposedly.

Having blackmailed his father into funding a year in Europe - and having spent his first year's allowance before he even left! - Liebling actually spent his second adequate monthly released funding studying "feeding".

Despite a reputation based on his New Yorker columns on life, boxing and mankind's foibles it is his writing on food and `feeding' for which he is mostly acclaimed. His editor decried his claims to be a gourmet, and as was explained by my own `feeding' French mentor many years after his 1916 ventures, he was assured he was actually a gourmand. Jointly our shapes at our stages of maturity confirm this more apt definition!

Wonderfully witty but actually very astute writing on restaurants, food and wine demonstrate this author's ability to ensnare the reader in his works. Almost weeping for my `long lost' Paris at the end - sated and stuffed - I put aside this greedy `foodies' pornography with reluctant glee.

Great reading! Bon Apppetit!
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