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Return to Paris: A Memoir Paperback – April 20, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (April 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743439686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743439688
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When she was a teen, Rossant, whose mother was French and father was Egyptian, moved from Cairo back to Paris (where she was born) with her widowed mother to live with her grandmother in the upscale 17th arrondissement. This book charts Rossant's years in Paris and ends shortly after her marriage to an American. Although Rossant (Memories of a Lost Egypt) came of age in Paris during one of its headiest times-the 1950s-she doesn't offer much in the way of descriptions of the era. Instead, her memoir is personal, describing her struggles with her distant mother and her stern, difficult grandmother. It was hard for Rossant to get used to life in Paris: the city was gray and lifeless compared with lively Cairo; Rossant had to hide the fact that she'd been educated at a convent in Egypt (her Jewish grandmother in Paris would've been angry); her mother seemed to be interested solely in shopping and meeting men; and she had to get used to eating an omelette aux fines herbes for a snack instead of her usual semit, the Egyptian version of a soft pretzel. By exploring the wonders of French cuisine, Rossant found her way. She shares recipes throughout the book, interspersing them among anecdotes (e.g., when she butted heads with her grandmother, the cook's pain perdu [French toast] comforted her). This is mostly a pleasing memoir, but contradictions and repetitions in the text abound. These oversights will frustrate close readers, but those interested in food will still enjoy Rossant's careful explanations of meals and markets.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the first volume of her memoirs, Memories of a Lost Egypt (1999), food writer Rossant recounted her earliest upbringing in Cairo, Egypt. In this latest book, Rossant picks up the narrative with her 1947 removal to Paris. There she lives with her exceptional grandmother, having been deserted by her mother, who returned to the author's beloved Egypt without her daughter. During the war years, Rossant's grandmother had worked to disguise the family's Jewish origins, and this induced ambivalence in the youngster's self-image. Rossant initially found French food decidedly inferior to that of her beloved Egypt. The family cook, Georgette, soon convinced her otherwise, and Rossant fell in love with Camembert, swiftly followed by the discovery of Breton crepes. Enriched by the provisions of her father's will, Rossant began to travel and to explore French cuisine. This second part of Rossant's memoirs continues the tradition of interspersing text with recipes for dishes both simple and complex, from pain perdu to a whole goose and its artfully stuffed neck. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By julia m collins on April 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I don't usually read food-related books. I generally stick with novels or straightforward history/biography. Yet I could not resist Colette Rossant's earlier memoir, Memories of a Lost Egypt, for its poignant, delectable interweaving of memories, recipes, and passionate observations about the tastes and foods she discovered as a child growing up in remarkable circumstances. (Her recipes are fabulous, by the way--easy to recreate.)
Rossant's new book, Return to Paris, continues the story of her extraordinary upbringing. I really recommend reading both books, which are delightfully different but ideal companions. In fact, I so loved Rossant's evocation of Cairo in both writing and recipes, and her candid portrait of her family there, that I wasn't sure at first how I would react to her new memoir's focus on Paris, where she returned as a teenager. As it turns out, I enjoyed the dramatic turn this book reflects, in both her life and her culinary education, as she describes her difficult adjustment to postwar life in a country so different from her beloved Egypt. I was touched by young Colette's largeness of spirit as she accepts her losses and isolation, and opens up to the delights of Paris and its food.
Rossant is a wonderful writer with an explorer's personality, which makes her books transcend their genre. Lovers of good stories and good writing, as well as marvelous food, will enjoy Return to Paris. I'd like to add that given the events of our time, in particular the appalling anti-French and anti-Arab behavior some folks exhibit, it is compelling to read how one young person bridged two strikingly different cultures with grace, open eyes, and receptive tastebuds.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
.
Reading _Return to Paris_ (and preparing its recipes) is like listening to a Piaf song, at once strikingly beautiful and hauntingly sad, something that commands your attention to the very end.
So, dear reader, beware! For should you open the first page of this book, you may find yourself swept away to a Paris you never knew of, to return to a present made a little sadder by finding there are no more pages left to turn.
I also recommend these other books by Rossant which I have read:
- Memories of a Lost Egypt (the first of her food memoirs)
- Bocuse a la Carte (translator)
- Colette Rossant's After Five Gourmet
- Colette's Slim Cuisine
- New Kosher Cooking
- Vegetable
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this little book and read it in one sitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It made me wish that Colette would invite me to dinner! The writing swept me along throughout the journeys in her life. The recipes were a surprise bonus for me as I had never read her other books and had no idea she was known for cuisine. It was the beautiful cover that sold me! Highly recommend this book. I can barely cook, but am going to try the Agvolemono soup, a favorite from my 20's when I worked upstairs from a Greek Deli in downtown Boston.
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