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Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas (P.S.) Paperback – September 23, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061562335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061562334
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this witty essay collection, Baxter (We'll Always Have Paris) chronicles his years of learning to prepare elaborate Christmas dinners for his French in-laws. After leaving his Los Angeles home to follow a woman (who would later become his wife) to Paris, Baxter was charged with the serious task of cooking the holiday meal for his relatives. Calling to mind other expatriate writers such as Diane Johnson and David Sedaris, Baxter gives readers insights into both French culture and his own expanding culinary range. In Ninety Degrees of Christmas, he muses on Christmases in his native Australia versus France, and details his mother's preparation of her holiday pudding. Never condescending or obsequious toward his adopted home, Baxter shares insights with the wry perspective of an outsider permitted into a secret world and eager to share the rules with other visitors. Achieving a particularly sensitive balance of allowing readers glimpses into the intimacies of family life while retaining a degree of journalistic distance, Baxter is autobiographical but never intrusive. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

Paris’ Christmas celebration combines the family values of American Thanksgiving with a quintessentially Gallic banquet. Having moved from Los Angeles to Paris to marry, Australian writer and film critic Baxter seeks his new bride’s family’s approval and hopes to earn it by preparing a worthy Christmas dinner. In evocative prose, he deconstructs the dinner’s elements and travels from market to vineyard and from butcher to cheesemonger to assemble a dinner his judgmental relatives will appreciate. Baxter continually compares the joys of the French feast with his memories of Australian Christmas, celebrated in the antipodean summer’s heat. He also recounts his own journey from palate-challenged consumer of overcooked meats and vegetables to a world-class connoisseur. Gathering together the freshest oysters, impeccable apples, perfectly ripe cheese, a prime Bordeaux vintage, and a show-stopping roast suckling pig laid out on antique linens finally earns him the family’s acceptance. This is a perfectly realized, utterly enjoyable history of holiday tradition. --Mark Knoblauch

More About the Author

John Baxter was born in Sydney, Australia, but raised in a small country town called Junee. With little else to do, he went to the movies three times a week for most of his adolescence, which provided an instant education in Hollywood movies with which he was often able to embarrass film celebrities ("You SAW that thing?")
His second interest, however, was science fiction, which he began writing in his late teens. He sold stories to the same British and American magazines as J.G. Ballard and Thomas M. Disch, and in 1966 his first sf novel, THE GOD KILLERS, was published in both the US and Britain. He also edited the first-ever anthologies of Australian science fiction, and wrote the first history of the Australian cinema.
In 1969, he came to Europe, settled in London, and began writing books on the cinema, including a biography of the director Ken Russell, and studies of John Ford, Josef von Sternberg and the gangster and science fiction film genres, and working as an arts journalist for various magazines, and for BBC radio. He also served on the juries of European film festivals.
In 1974 he was invited to become visiting professor at Hollins College in Virginia, USA, where he remained for two years. While in America, he collaborated with Thomas Atkins on THE FIRE CAME BY; THE GREAT SIBERIAN EXPLOSION OF 1908,and wrote a study of director King Vidor, as well as completing two novels, THE HERMES FALL and BIDDING.
Returning to London, he published the technological thriller THE BLACK YACHT. In 1979 he moved to Ireland, and the following year returned to Australia, where he co-scripted the 1988 science fiction film THE TIME GUARDIAN, starring Carrie Fisher and Dean Stockwell. He also wrote and presented three TV series on the cinema, and produced and presented the ABC radio programme BOOKS AND WRITING.
In 1989 he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a screenwriter and film journalist. The following year, he met his present wife, Marie-Dominique Montel, and re-located in Paris.
After moving to France, John published biographies of Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and Robert De Niro, as well as five books of autobiography, A POUND OF PAPER: CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK ADDICT, dealing with his fascination for collecting books, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: SEX AND LOVE IN THE CITY OF LIGHT, of which the SUNDAY TIMES of London wrote "it towers above most recent memoirs of life abroad," IMMOVEABLE FEAST: A PARIS CHRISTMAS, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WALK IN THE WORLD: A PEDESTRIAN IN PARIS, and THE PERFECT MEAL. IN SEARCH OF THE LOST TASTES OF FRANCE.
John has co-directed the annual Paris Writers Workshop and is a frequent lecturer and public speaker. His hobbies are cooking and book collecting. He has a major collection of modern first editions. When not writing, he can be found prowling the bouquinistes along the Seine or cruising the Internet in search of new acquisitions.

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Customer Reviews

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This was my first reading of a book by Baxter and I was simply delighted with it.
Immoveable Feast by John Baxter was a wonderful book about how one Australian man prepped a traditional French Christmas feast.
Two Steps Far
Whether you have visited Paris in person or in your dreams, this is one enjoyable read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Josh Lindsay on November 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was trying to find a book here on Amazon about French Christmas cooking when I stumbled upon this book. In fact, I thought there were some recipes in the book, but there is only a vague explanation of a couple dishes. However, that took nothing away from my enjoyment of this wonderful book!

The author's writing was very approachable, and allows the reader to run through the book. The story, however, was amazing and inspirational. It is filled with personal anecdotes from his life as he tells the journey of putting together a Christmas dinner for a traditional French family who knows their way around the kitchen. These short narratives might seem like filler to some, but I thought they were what gave the novel life, from his friend's experience of a Napoleon era wine, his trip to India for spices, and, in particular, his amazing daughter Louise.

While reading this book, Louise reminded me of the light that Pearl brought to the "Scarlet Letter." I am probably over-emphasizing her involvement in the novel, but her sophistication shines through and represents the character of France that is exhibited throughout the novel. Plus, as a 19-year-old, I am able to see how other people of the same age live in other parts of the world.

But, I digress, as the main story is just as fascinating to imagine, which in particular has inspired me to try and replicate such an event, sadly without the Roast Suckling Pig! So, if you are looking for a quick read for the weekend, with an insight into the French and their cooking, I cannot see how you could wrong with A Paris Christmas!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Terrance Gelenter on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Xmas PigggyFest in Paris

Ernest Hemingway called Paris "a moveable feast" - a city ready to embrace you at any time in your life when you feel able to return its embrace. For Los Angeles-based film critic John Baxter, that moment came when he fell in love with the only French woman who can't cook and impulsively moved to Paris to marry her. As a test of his love, his in-laws charged him with cooking the next Christmas banquet--for eighteen people in their ancestral family home. And he has been dong it ever since

As a bon vivant with an insider's perspective on the City of Light he is regularly sought out for advice on the city's best markets, restaurants, cheese shops and boulangeries-questions that lead to lengthy, anecdote-filled riffs but the question that silences him is "Where can I get a Christmas dinner in Paris?" The answer: almost impossible.

That set him to thinking about his own Paris Christmases. IMMOVEABLE FEAST recalls with great joy his growth from a nearly mute English-speaking diner to Père Noel with an apron as he passionately plans and prepares sumptuous annual feast after feast. This perfect stocking stuffer will inspire you to save at least one American turkey from extinction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LitFlickChick on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book IS like a little feast. A savory narrative about French culture and cuisine, peppered with tidbits about Australia, a hint of India and a good measure of the Anglo/American influences on this writer and his love of food.
BUT, don't buy this sweet/piquant morsel based on the Amazon "Product Description." It was written by someone who did NOT read the book.
This is not "a test of love," nor a memoir of Baxter's "yearlong quest... as he visits the farthest corners of France in search of the country's best recipes and ingredients." In other words, this isn't a long culinary travelogue of France -- which would have been a blast.
The author begins to prepare his menu and assemble ingredients not over the space of a year, but during the week before Christmas, with most of the ingredients sought not far and wide, but along a 120km stretch of France's Atlantic coast.
Still, you'll enjoy this very "toothsome" book. Just don't expect the cover to reflect what's actually inside the book. (Hint: this doesn't actually depict a "Paris Christmas" at all.)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A rather disappointing book (I read The Most Beautiful Walk in the World first. The overall story is his preparations for and making of Christmas dinner for the French family he married into. However most of it is him telling us how little he used to know about food. Now he knows about as much as most people likely to be reading this book. It is poorly seasoned with food related anecdotes that seem more like name dropping than contributions to the story or offering of interesting asides. One idiosyncratic feature, Mr Baxter seems never to have heard a story describing a woman or group of women who believe in the medicinal power of swallowing semen that he cannot find a way to fit into the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MS on December 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Baxter has a wonderfully eclectic mind that will start you off with a shopping list in Paris and end up in the memory of a long ago escapade with a former girlfriend, wife, or fellow writer, as he prepares a most spectacular Christmas meal for his extended French inlaws, all the more remarkable that he (an Australian) should be asked to cook the meal by a family steeped in the culinary and social history of France. The perfect holiday read, or for any winter moment, when you want to curl up and escape fora few hours, not to mention that he gives you interesting historical bits about the various items on his Christmas menu. What distinguishes this from the many other romantic memoirs of Paris now popular, is that it takes you so much further afield (as far as Mumbai, India). The only reason I was glad to get to the end was to be able to share it with others.
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