From Publishers Weekly
In this pleasant memoir about learning to live and eat à la française
, an American journalist married to a Frenchman inspires lessons in culinary détente. Bard was working as a journalist in London and possessed of the wonderful puppy-dog enthusiasm of young Americans when she first met her husband-to-be, Gwendal, a computer engineer from Brittany. Soon he had the foresight to put her name on the gas bill of his Parisian apartment in the 10th arrondissement, and they were destined to marry—and cook together. Her memoir is really a celebration of the culinary season as it unfolded in their young lives together: recipes for seduction (onion and bacon); getting serious over andouillette; learning to buy what's fresh at the Parisian markets (four and a half pounds of figs); surviving a long, cold winter in an unheated apartment; and warming up their visiting parents over profiteroles. Bard throws in some American recipes that feel like home, such as noodle pudding, and comforting soups for a winter's grieving over the death of the father-in-law. Bard carefully observes the eating habits of her impossibly slender mother-in-law for tips to staying slim (lots of water and no snacking). Bard keeps an eye to healthful ingredients (Three Fabulous Solo Lunches), and, as a Jewish New Yorker, even prepares a Passover seder in Paris, in this work that manages to be both sensuous and informative. (Feb.)
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“I slept with my French husband halfway through our first date,” begins Bard, a Paris-based American journalist, and she goes on to describe falling in love with both Gwendal, her Brittany-born amour, and with her adopted city, where she learns to shop for and cook delectable meals on a tiny two-burner stove (instructions for preparing the dishes close each chapter). Bard lacks the culinary chops of other recent romance-and-recipe memoirists in the increasingly crowded genre, such as New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser, whose Cooking for Mr. Latte (2003) also chronicled her path to marriage. And while Bard does include numerous, cinema-ready glimpses into her relationship with Gwendal (when she finally moves in, the adorable way he welcomes her feels pulled from a romantic comedy), both the love story and the food story feel slightly muted next to what seems to be the book’s deepest undercurrent: how to build an adult life that reconciles societal pressure, personal ambition, cultural dissonance, and true happiness. --Gillian Engberg
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