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Coquilles, Calva, and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair with Real French Food Hardcover – June 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Reading this book is like lunching with Gerry Dryansky: from coquilles to Calva, with crème in between, it is seasoned with wit and charm. Rich with food-lover wisdom, it captures what France does best. (Mort Rosenblum, Editor of Dispatches, winner of the Overseas Press Club, Mencken, Harry Chapin and James Beard Awards)

I have had the incredible good luck to have eaten dozens and dozens of French meals with Gerry Dryansky, and he was never wrong. I mean, never. We would travel down some little street, to some little restaurant, and then: delight, pure pleasure. There’s nobody I know, in Paris or New York, who understands French food the way Gerry does. And surely nobody who writes about it as well as he does. (Alan Furst, author of Mission to Paris and the bestselling Spies in the Balkans)

A delicious and delightful read, especially for those who think they might know this country. When you sit down to a meal with Dryansky, you taste the very soul of France. (Eleanor Beardsley, France Correspondent, National Public Radio)

An appetizing, evocative, eccentric paean to Gallic gastronomy.  A richly textured memoir. (Colman Andrews - The Wall Street Journal)

Find an escape to a better world in Coquilles, Calva & Creme.  A book to dream over. (Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize Winner - The Washington Post)

Tuck this delicious tome in your hamper between Proust’s madeleines and the champagne―then feast your soul. The Dryanskys remind us that in France – at least sometimes and in some places – authenticity still rhymes with simplicity, and great writing makes a fine relish. (David Downie, author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Lights and the Terroir food series)

French food and travel with a dash of history―what a treat it is to sit at the table with this smart, engaging writer. A delicious read from start to finish. (Barbara Fairchild, winner of the James Beard Award, bestselling food writer and longtime editor of Bon Apétit)

Congratulations to Dryansky. It was a great pleasure to read his text, both so well documented and free of polemics. (Christian Millau, co-founder of Le Guide GaultMillau, herald and godfather of “La Nouvelle Cuisine”)

Coquilles, Calva, and Creme vividly brings back my years of working in Paris in the 1950s. When I contemplate my cooking journey of the last half century, from classic to nouvelle, from fusion to modern American to molecular, the only reminiscences I have is of food that touches my soul or makes me salivate. Gerry Dryansky writes honestly and eloquently about these simple, honest, essential dishes in his engaging, compelling, and delicious memoir. (Jacques Pépin, winner of the James Beard Award)

Part memoir, part travelogue, Coquilles, Calva & Creme is a hymn to French food and wine and the joy of wining and dining in France with "convivialité" - which for the French is key. Dryansky has many a story to tell about the past (lunching with the likes of Coco and Yves) but in this present tour de France he greets each dining experience, each new chef, each new winemaker, and each new region, from Alsace to Le Massif Central, with genuine curiosity, an open mind, and a discerning first rate palate. This entertaining, erudite, and elegant book is a must for Francophiles and food lovers everywhere. (Harriet Welty Rochefort, bestselling author of French Toast, French Fried and the forthcoming Joie de Vivre)

About the Author

Gerry Dryansky has called Paris home for more than thirty years, two decades of which he spent as the senior European correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler. He has written for magazines and newspapers around the globe and lives in France with his wife, Joanne, who is the coauthor of this volume.

Joanne Dryansky is the wife of Gerry Dryansky, the senior European correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler. Joanne and Gerry moved to Paris and write screenplays and fiction together. Their recent novel Fatima's Good Fortune, after being published in the United States and worldwide, is going to the screen.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605983292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605983295
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,457,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Henri IV on August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to know what to say about this book. I bought it because of the stunningly positive reviews it received, and began it enthusiastically after reading the comments on the back cover. It's a strange book, in my mind. Structurally, it has no table of contents, no index, and the running heads don't note the chapter name, so one cannot determine the scope of what one is reading without thumbing through the entire thing. The center photo collection could be described, I guess, as either charmingly sentimental or corny/clunky, and it seems the latter to me. The title is an editorial creation that I don't think reflects what the book is about. I live in France, I love to eat French food, I'm familiar with many of the dishes the author has enjoyed--and he has a fondness, apparently, for hearty red meat stews of various sorts, which I generally just don't care for, and I detest tripes. The author seems to eat a lot, which I can't do either. I think I know where to find the best boudin noir, the best tomatoes, the best strawberries, in France, probably in the world...without traveling too far. I did read the whole book, which says something for it. But really my enthusiasm doesn't approach that of the reviewers on Amazon or on the book's back cover. It's ok. It's interesting. It took a lot of focused time and thorough research to write it. But I can't say I'd heartily recommend it. Perhaps it helps people who can't come to France dream a bit more precisely about France and its culinary roots, and surely that's a good thing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bernadette E. Murray on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is nothing short of a great love letter to France from lovers who recount their lives in this wonderful land. The very essence of French culinary culture and tradition is sought, visited, savored and shared with the reader. This is also a sense of loss one feels from what modern progress steals from her. France's glorious culinary traditions are fast fading in place of modernity and convenience, and like worried lovers, the authors write compelling of this. I soon visited Normandy after reading this book, and sought out the very essence of the region as described by Gerry and Joanne Dryansky. It was heavenly. There is something to be said for the most incredibly delicious milk, butter and cheese that hail from this region. I had tasted it already, though, when I read this wonderful, exquisitely conceived book. It's very beautifully written -- a rare find in a book of this kind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By randy fertel on August 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With the kind of understatement they must have learned in their lifetime together in France, Gerry and Joanne Dryansky say they led "what some might call enchanted lives." Enchanted indeed. As former bureau chief for Women's Wear Daily, then European correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler, and obviously all the while a formidable trencherman, Gerry Dryansky is a triple threat: fashion, travel, and food. Their wonderful book reflects it, rich in the people, sights, sounds, smells, flavors and micro-cultures of France.

By their account, French culinary arts are in the process of turning from worshipping sophisticated "trophy" cuisine, with its "shaky claim to art," and returning to the roots of French regional cooking. Amongst the trophies, the accent is on creativity at all costs. As if they had read too much Ezra Pound, whatever these high-profile chefs confect, they must "make it new." A new generation of chefs, however, are returning to la cuisine traditionelle where, as in wine, terroir is everything: the taste of the land as expressed in what it produces. Terroirists they apparently call themselves, throwing down the gauntlet. Culinary perfection from this point of view is achieved when "things are allowed to taste of what they are." The Dryanskys borrow our term "soul food" to describe this effort "to perpetuate rituals of attachment that go back to the Middle Ages." This is the French cuisine that won Alice Waters' heart as a student in France and has made such a difference in our own return to "slow food.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barbara on June 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A compelling food lover's road journey through beautiful France, meeting fascinating people, eating mouthwatering food, lovingly detailed meal after meal. The author has captured the true flavor, the essence of France and this from someone who has lived in France for more than 30 years!I've already ordered this book for three friends. Believe me, this is one book that's well worth the trip.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Marsano on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
With round-trip fares from New York to Paris running about $1500, it's a blessing to find this book, which qualifies as a trip in hardback. Your guides are G.Y. and Joanne Dryansky, who have lived in France since 1963--longer, that is, than most Frenchmen. Suffice to say that their half-century of experience means they haven't rushed into the writing of this book. No; `Coquilles, Calva, and Crème' is the product of mature reflection and passionate devotion to French cuisine. Not the big-ticket Michelin stuff offered at blinding prices by the Ducasses and Robuchons and their superstar tribesmen but the oft-neglected cuisine bourgeoisie and plats canailles--traditional cooking that he calls French soul food. The memoir divides roughly into two parts because Dryansky has plenty of experience of top-dollar dining in Paris: he was a general reporter and fashion correspondent for several major U.S. publications. That means he not only ate very well but dined with most of the fashion world's designers and celebrities. As a result there's plenty of gossip in this section, but it's not malicious. Instead, it's cool-eyed and fun: about how Régine missed attending the party of the year [or decade or century] because her elephant(!) got lost in the Bois de Boulonge; that the Duchess of Windsor wasn't really out of line when she peed on the bathroom floor of a three-star restaurant; that Coco Chanel described a critic she despised as `mouth like a sewer, talks like a sewing machine.' The second part follows the Dryanskys on a series of locavore voyages into la france profonde, the deeply rural countryside that most Frenchmen consider the heart and soul of their nation.Read more ›
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