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Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris [Kindle Edition]

Ann Mah
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.95
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $14.96 (58%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.

So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.

Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mah gladly dons rose-colored glasses in this gastronomic travelogue of regional French cuisine. She revels in the essence of summer captured in Provence’s fresh and creamy soupe au pistou; the gooey decadence of Savoie’s fondue; and the buttery, toothsome chew of Brittany’s buckwheat crepes, attempting to distract herself with the history of classic French dishes after her diplomat husband is called away from their new post in Paris for a yearlong assignment in Iraq. Another diplomat’s wife, Julia Child, is invoked throughout the book for guidance in French cuisine and in dealing with the unsettling feeling of playing second fiddle to a spouse whose job requires regular moves about the globe. The real joy of this book, though, is in Mah’s mouthwatering, bite-by-bite descriptions of the plates set before her in Parisian cafés, country homes, and hole-in-the-wall foodie hideaways. Francophiles will delight in the smattering of French words and phrases sprinkled throughout every page, and serious cooks may endeavor to follow the lengthy recipes for a signature regional dish included at the end of each chapter. --Amye Day Ong


"Mah admirably fits her research into easily digested bites, the reader's enthusiasm mirroring her own." 
--New York Times Book Review

"A progressive dinner of food, countryside and the people who make French cuisine the feast that it is. Mah admits that she could now do another memoir of lesser-known regions and their dishes. It's enough to make one hope she gets abandoned in France again."
--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"By turns sweet, self-deprecating, humorous, and poignant, with questions of how we grow close to each other through food and curiosity, this memoir is a treat to savor."
--The Kitchn

"Mastering the Art of French Eating makes you want to be in Paris as [Mah] describes the delight of crusty baguettes spread with butter and jam, surprise glimpses of Notre Dame caught from the bus, nursing a glass of red wine in a cafe that has mirrored columns and a zinc bar. . . . the book has appealing honesty and vulnerability, overlaid as it is with the pain of her husband's absence. It will also make you very hungry.”
Wall Street Journal

“Mah admirably fits her research into easily digested bites, the reader’s enthusiasm mirroring her own.”
The New York Times Book Review

"A well-written entrée into French dining."
The Daily Beast

"Consistently passionate and emotionally resonant, Mah’s prose brims with true love . . . A bighearted, multisensory tour of France."

"The author’s investigations into the importance of each dish to the people she meets are beautifully woven together with her reflections on culture, identity, love, and marriage, resulting in an enjoyable and thoughtful read that sparkles with humor. . . . This honest, funny, and eloquent memoir is sure to delight lovers of France, food, or travel."
Library Journal

"The real joy of this book . . . is in Mah’s mouthwatering, bite-by-bite descriptions of the plates set before her in Parisian cafés, country homes, and hole-in-the-wall foodie hideaways. Francophiles will delight in the smattering of French words and phrases sprinkled throughout every page, and serious cooks may endeavor to follow the lengthy recipes for a signature regional dish included at the end of each chapter."

"Whether you’re French or Francophile, a long-time connoisseur of French food or someone who’s just figuring out the difference between frites and frangipane, feasting through France with Ann Mah is a delicious adventure.  Ann’s writing is lovely, her curiosity boundless and her good taste assured.  Spending time with her in Mastering the Art of French Eating is a treat."
Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table and owner of Beurre & Sel Cookies

"Ann Mah dishes up a welcoming concoction, a good dose of French history, a personal, vibrant, enthusiastic picture of life in a country she adores, without apology. I am hungry already!"
Patricia Wells, author of The Food Lover's Guide to Paris and Simply Truffles

"Excellent ingredients, carefully prepared and very elegantly served. A really tasty book."
Peter Mayle, author of The Marseille Caper and A Year in Provence

“Ann Mah writes inspiringly about basic French dishes we thought we knew all about. She joins Elizabeth David in being a joy and an instruction to read."
Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce

"A tour de force through French cuisine, Ann Mah crisscrossed France, learning about all my favorite foods—from buckwheat galettes to the secrets of authentic cassoulet. Her personal culinary tale will have you packing your bags. But if you can’t make it to France, Ann offers delicious recipes, culled from experts!"
David Lebovitz, author of The Sweet Life in Paris

“Ann Mah goes straight to the essential in this lively, mouth-watering book as she explores the foundations of French cuisine.  She even goes where all before her have failed to tread—the wild country of andouillette—to tempt with her stories and her approachable recipes. Bravo!”
Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of On Rue Tatin

"Like a bowl of homemade cassoulet, this book is warm to the touch. Ann Mah writes about her international experiences—and origins—with great sensitivity.  She gives us a peek into French kitchens foodies will envy, and no Francophile could resist."
Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris

“From the peaks of the French Alps to Brittany’s buckwheat fields, Lyon’s bouchons to Burgundy’s wineries, Ann takes us all over France in pursuit of its culinary traditions. But at the heart of her story is Paris—and all the love, wistfulness and deliciousness found there.”
Amy Thomas, author of Paris, My Sweet

Product Details

  • File Size: 605 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670025992
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C1N934S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,191 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try the recipes!!! September 15, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ann Mah and her diplomate husband get a dream assignment to Paris. Three years in the city of lights is a recipe for heaven to foodie Ann until her husband is sent off to Iraq for a year on an unaccompanied tour. Ann, lonely and shy, must learn to deal with this and this book is part of her solution. Ann visits 10 regions in France and delves into the signature dish of each area. If your taste buds aren't deficient, you should be drooling by this time. At the end of each region is the recipe for that signature dish. Having lived in Paris myself, I can understand Ann's dilemma but I think her solution is brilliant. She finds a job and then travels the different regions of France in search of the "real" thing in a signature dish. Try the recipe on page 226 for Boeuf a la Bourguignonne...yummmmmmmmmmm.
My advice about this book is , Buy it, Cook with it and enjoy. Bon Appetite!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring who you are through the food you eat September 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having read quite a few food and cooking oriented books written by food authors who were also chefs, I find this book is unique as author Ann Mah. She is a less adventurous eater and more like the rest of us. I feel that her research of this book, is done in a way, that addresses those of us that don't know the history of area or the recipe being discussed. so I get more out of her approach. I don't know my history (much less France's) and this was delivered in such a way, not to be facts and figures, but the local stories that made up the past of an area.

Ann Mah, had a unique opportunity to live in the city of her dreams, but unfortunately not the way she envisioned it. Instead with her husband miles away in Bagdad she found herself spending this time alone. Fortunately for us she has made the best of it and taken the opportunity to pursue her fascination of French cooking. I find her unique situation (being of Chinese heritage, but being American), while having a nomadic experience in other countries fascinating. I never thought how awkward that could be in China, looking like a local, while clearly not being one. It seems less of an issue for American's in Europe. The irony of this displacement while pursuing the food heritage of a country, is not lost on the reader. So much of who we are is what we eat. The comfort foods of each generation are often passed down and define us. I found this especially pertinent in the section she discusses Alsatian food. Clearly though the area was passed between German and France several times and languages were mandated, the food was unaffected.

Each time I have traveled, it has been the food of the area that has stayed with me. That unique taste that when I recall it takes me back to that place and time.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
... You're there. This is a delightful little book for the homesick Francophile. If that describes you, expect to devour it in a day or two. And even if you have already read a dozen or more in the genre, I believe you'll find a fresh approach in Ms. Mah's "journal."

She not only covers the specialties and uniqueness of my favorite regions, Paris, Provence and Burgundy, but several I have not had the opportunity to visit -- Alsace, for example. And with each area, she provides the definitive recipe for and history of their signature dish. (All this time I've topped my Cassoulet with bread crumbs! Quelle horror!) Her recipe for Boeuf Bourguignonnne is the classic bacon and mushroom version, but she teases the reader with the mention of "a fine stew" she was served in Beaune, "sparked with the tang of ginger and orange peel," something I intend to copy at the first opportunity. And I can't wait to try my hand, once again, at "Aligot," this time using her suggestion of fresh mozzarella as a substitute for the unavailable "tome fraiche."

So while this is not a cookbook in form, but a most enjoyable travel journal, I am praying for an imminent break in our present Colorado heatwave so I can prepare several of her mouth-watering sounding French classics
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read that captures the many flavors of France September 23, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read Ann Mah's "Mastering the Art of French Eating" on the heels of The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France and Coquilles, Calva and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair wtih Real French Food; I spent three weeks touring France last fall, so was a bit nostalgic for the various flavors I encountered from south to north as I made my way from Toulouse through the Perigord Noir, the Loire Valley, Normandy and finally Paris. Mah's husband, a diplomat, lands a plum assignment to Paris: three years together to explore the city and its many boulangeries, cafes, and markets. An aspiring food writer, Ann is thrilled with the possibilities. They find an apartment and unpack the many boxes that have lived for years in storage (due to her husband's assignments, they have moved around frequently). But the unthinkable happens: her husband is called away to Iraq on a one-year unaccompanied tour, leaving Ann to navigate an unfamiliar language and city.

During her year on her own, she traces the origin of various French specialties by heading straight for the source: AAAAA andouillette in Troyes, crepes in Brittany, cassoulet in Toulouse, pistou in Provence, boeuf Bourguignon in Burgundy. Beautifully written and with touches of humor, each chapter concludes with the star recipe that it focuses on. And yes, you'll find healthy sprinklings of wisdom from Julia throughout. There are fascinating cultural tidbits (and lots of dashes of local customs and lore) that serve to spice up the individual stories and portraits of individual regions. And much like a long-simmered cassoulet, all of these elements form a delicious whole.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great product.
Published 12 days ago by Marie Scallan
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious look at some of France's best dishes
There are some books that capture you from the minute you open them and this was one of those books. Read more
Published 29 days ago by FrenchVillageDiaries
5.0 out of 5 stars sensual and beautiful, I could feel the flavors and textures of ...
Delightful memoir of eating throughout the many culinary regions of France. Mouthwatering, sensual and beautiful, I could feel the flavors and textures of the varied meals she... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joyce Sawczuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book and I love that it contains recipes!
Published 1 month ago by acox
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, well written, interesting. I'm headed to ...
Enjoyable, well written, interesting. I'm headed to France so I bought the online version just so I could try some of the places Ann Mah talks about!
Published 1 month ago by LilRedWriter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a delightful read!
Published 1 month ago by cynthia lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I really enjoyed the read. Loved the story, real, adventuresome and wonderful food. Wish I could be there.
Published 2 months ago by Ken Krause
4.0 out of 5 stars I Miss My Paris and Food/Wine/Cheese of France
All the great food, wine and the ambience of Paris came running back my memory lane. Unlike her, I had only one year to appreciate France but this book brings back all the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Manjiro
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a wonderful book! She took me back to France with ...
This was a wonderful book! She took me back to France with her colorful, detailed writing in a way that no other writer has been able to do. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laura Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read plus recipes
Fun read plus recipes! Author takes you through her personal experiences being in Paris, France plus what leads her to explore the country's most notable regions and cuisine.
Published 3 months ago by Julie Vieillemaringe
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More About the Author

Ann Mah is a food and travel writer and author of a food memoir, Mastering the Art of French Eating (Viking Penguin) and a novel, Kitchen Chinese (HarperCollins). Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune, South China Morning Post, Fodor's guides, and other publications. Born in Orange County, California, Ann began her career in book publishing after graduating from UCLA. In 2005, she was awarded a James Beard Foundation culinary scholarship to study in Bologna, Italy. She currently divides her time between Paris -- where she has lived since 2008 -- and New York City. Visit

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