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French Fried: The Culinary Capers Of An American In Paris Hardcover – March 7, 2001

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Here are two culinary memoirs by American women now living in France. The similarities end there, as one author went to France for the food and stayed for the life that grew up around her, while the other moved to France for its own sake and realized that she'd better learn to cook once she became engaged to a Frenchman. In On Rue Tatin, Loomis, a food writer and an accomplished cook, recalls her initial journey to Paris to attend cooking school. Her apprenticeship at La Varenne cole de Cuisine led to a job as an assistant to food writer Patricia Wells and a lifelong fascination with French cooking and culture. Eventually, in 1994, she and her family permanently settled in a medieval convent on Rue Tatin in the Norman town of Louviers. Interspersed with her lyrical descriptions of daily life in urban and rural France are 50 recipes from a simple frittata to a complex pot au feu culled from both famous chefs and the local fish seller. The author prepares most of the dishes in her own home, and American readers should be able to do the same in a well-equipped kitchen though they may have trouble finding a leg of wild boar at their local supermarket. In French Fried, Rochefort (French Toast) writes about how her obsession with French food became a personal one when her French husband-to-be announced that they could not afford to keep eating in restaurants for the rest of their lives. There are a few recipes, most of them for "basics" such as vinaigrette or homemade mayonnaise. More of a general commentary on life in France as seen through its cuisine (one helpful tip for tourists: don't go into a restaurant and order only a salad or a sandwich because this is something you do in a caf ; restaurants are for meals), French Fried is the book to purchase if your patrons are looking for an informal travel guide. Buy both books if you are able; and if you regularly answer reference questions about the cooking of wild boar, you'll definitely need On Rue Tatin. Wendy Bethel, Southwest P.L., Grove City, OH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Harriet Welty Rochefort grew up in Iowa, but she has lived in France for the last thirty years. In French Fried , her second volume recounting the vicissitudes of daily life among the French, she brings her well-developed sense of humor to bear on topics such as the French waiter in all his professional hauteur, the Gallic passion for organ meats, and the new culture of the hypermarket. This single-destination source for everything from fine foods to stereos to running shoes has transformed the way many French do their customary daily shopping. Rochefort's recounting of wine-tastings with Alain Ducasse's sommelier puts good wine service in sound perspective. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (March 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312261497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312261498
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harriet Welty Rochefort is the author of 3 books about the French, "French Toast, "French Fried", and "Joie de Vivre".

A French-American dual national, Harriet traveled to France after her studies at the University of Michigan (B.A.) and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism (MSJ) - and never left.

She lives with her French husband, Philippe, in a garden apartment in the "far east" of Paris.

Her books reflect her fascination with the French and the cultural differences between the French and the Americans. Her first book, "French Toast", is a humorous account of what it's like to be an American in a French family, honing in on all the things she can't figure out, whether it's the French educational system (positive reinforcement is definitely not on the agenda) or how the French women manage to look so terrific with seemingly little effort. Her second book, "French Fried", describes the culinary capers of an American in Paris. She tells how, thanks to her French mother-in-law's tips, her cooking evolved from opening a can of peas to casually slinging out four-course meals as a matter of routine - in a tiny French kitchen. Along the way, she explores the wonderful world of French cuisine, touring cheese and wine cellars and lands a hard to come by invitation to a champagne tasting at the Ritz.

Her latest book, "Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French", investigates the French way of enjoying life. The French, she writes, revel in the moment and add style to small things; they enjoy more leisure time than most Americans can dream of - without an ounce of guilt, and their joie de vivre can come where you least expect it. For the French, it's better to have a chagrin d'amour than no amour at all. Ever wonder why the French look like they're shouting at each other? They are! That's because part of their joie de vivre is in disagreeing with each other. A day without discord is a sad day indeed.

In "Joie de Vivre", as in all her books about the French, Harriet writes from long experience, with good humor and genuine affection for the inhabitants of her adopted country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Rochefort's follow-up to "French Toast" focuses on the culinary differences between America and France, which have lead to huge differences in culture, lifestyle, and waistlines. With a breezy style and self-deprecating wit, she demystifies what the French cook, how they cook it, how they eat it, and how it enhances the pleasures of life. Surely one of the pleasures in life is relaxing with this book and a nice glass of red wine.
It's been an interesting experience to read this book (a celebration of good food, good wine, and a high quality of life) alongside Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" (a wonderfully written and thoroughly depressing exploration of the rise of fast food in the U.S. during the latter half of the 20th century and its impact on our culture). Rochefort, too, warns of the encroachment of McDonalds and other American fast-food enterprises on the French culinary landscape; she notes that she hopes her observations of French cuisine will not serve as a memorial of such an inherent part of French culture. Reading these two books side-by-side guarantees that you will never eat fast food again. And to make certain of that, Rochefort includes several tried-and-true French recipes. The ones I've tried have been simple and delicious!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jenny C. Drews on May 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book! It is a sincerely written account of Ms. Rochefort's adaptation to her life in France and of her efforts to find the essence of French cuisine. She examines her midwestern roots and American habits as she learns, step by step, what French food really is. And that is not so much fancy dishes and rich sauces as it is an attitude - a reverence of food, from its preparation to its place on the table. Since so much time is taken up where food is involved it takes on a much more significant role in French family & social life, French culture in general, than it does in the US.
Ms. Rochefort's lighthearted and amusing touch is certainly deceiving. Her account of this discovery seems to be written from the heart as she describes her first years in France, then motherhood, and her attempts to find her place with her French in-laws, and finally interviews with the paragons of French gastronomy. By the end of the book it is interesting to see what significance these culinary capers have for her and how much she cares about French food. And how much we can learn by reading the book!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved the author's self-deprecating humor as she tells the story of her love of French food and shares the wealth of information she has gleaned both from living in France for three decades and from talking with some of the foremost people in France's food world. After reading what she says about cheese, I can't wait for my next trip to France to feast on some "real" Brie. Meanwhile, her tips on what makes a good cheese plate have been put to use as have her simple but delicious recipes. After a spate of books from food "experts", most of whom couldn't mix up a simple green salad, this book is a gem.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Doty on November 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As an "expat housewife relocated to France" (as so delicately stated by another reviewer), I found this book somewhat informative. It is hard to get past her obsessive romance with the French and their culture. I think her infatuation with the French makes her writings very biased and not very accurate. I felt like she was looking down her nose at the rest of us Americans that live here and maybe don't appreciate French cuisine with the same gusto as her. That's great she loves stinky cheese and blood sausage. Kudos to her for completely immersing herself into this way of culinary living. However, globilization really HAS reared its head in France and contrary to what Ms. Welty says, the French DO eat cheese singles, snack on chips and very often eat a sandwich for lunch. The French are not all the same as she makes it seem. Sure, they love a good, long, hearty 7 course meal now and then, but in the age where a single income family is practically unheard of, I have yet to meet a family that sits down for the "traditional" home cooked lunch AND dinner everyday as she claims most do.

Most disappointing was her husband's commentary that was put at the end of every chapter. This guy doesn't do good things for the French image. He has got to be the most pretentious, arrogant, French man I have ever heard of. Please, do not think the French all feel this way about us! He just represents one man...not the entire country!

In summary, this book does clear up some of the culinary differences and a few of her recipes are good. However, her pretentious tone and frequent generalizations really spoiled it for me.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
You might think this book is a witty and insightful guide to understanding the differences between American and French cuisine. Wrong! It is a pretentious and boring tale of Ms. Welty Rochefort's adventures of cooking and eating in France as an American. It is an idea that could have been executed wonderfully in a short story or magazine article; as a book, it's far too long and repetitive. Her writing is riddled with stereotype after stereotype: American families don't know how to sit down for a meal, they are either obsessed with eating fat-free foods or they are obese, they can't enjoy eating, they serve dinner guests things like hamburgers and hot dogs and don't know how to treat their guests right. Yawn. It seems as though Rochefort believes her typical reader is a clueless American who wouldn't know brie from Velveeta, and if you don't mind the condescending tone, perhaps you might enjoy hearing all about her, her family, her experiences, her mishaps, and so on. It's like listening to "When I was a girl..." stories from your grandmother for seven hours straight. You have been warned!
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