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Coquilles, Calva and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair wtih Real French Food Paperback – June 1, 2013
“Coquilles, Calva, & Creme is largely a book to dream over,a catalogue of refined pleasure, a chronicle of fabulous restaurants and famous acquaintances. If you’re a Francophile, oenophile or gourmet, you can certainly find an escape to a better world in Coquilles, Calva, & Creme.”
- Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Dryansky apparently still thinks that traditional French cooking is something worth seeking out and enjoying and helping to preserve. Thank goodness. Coquilles, Calva, & Creme is an evocation of the kind of cooking that made French food famous in the first place. A witty, richly textured memoir.”
- Coleman Andrews, The Wall Street Journal
“French food and travel with a dash of history―what a treat it is to sit at the table with this smart, engaging writer. A delicious read from start to finish.”
- Barbara Fairchild, winner of the James Beard Award, editor emeritus of Bon Appetit
“A nutritious, delicious stew of a book. Coquilles, Calva and Creme is a thoughtful, informative commentary on the history of French cuisine. And it is a cookbook, with recipes for the most beloved, most characteristic, or most succulent dishes from most of the regions of France. More than anything, this is a book about integrity―in cooking, in journalism, in life―and about the importance of holding onto it in the face of pressures that are constantly working to undermine it.”
- Janet Hulstrand, Bonjour Paris
“Has France lost its culinary edge? After decades living and chronicling the good life in Paris and overseas, Gerry and Joanne Dryansky lead us to unsung chefs still championing the country's gourmand heritage.”
- Gael Greene, bestselling author Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess and InsatiableCritic.com, winner of the James Beard Award
“Gerry and Joanne Dryansky's book is a lovely ramble through a lifetime of experiences in France's high spots and some low ones too. Reading it brings as many delights as a marvelous long meal.”
- Patricia Wells, celebrated food author, winner of the James Beard Award
“I had the incredible good luck to have dozens and dozens of French meals with Gerry and Joanne Dryansky, and he was never wrong. I mean, never. We would travel down some little street, some little restaurant, and then, delight, pure pleasure. I was back years and years to a far more delicious France. And now, he tells all. There's nobody I know, in Paris or in New York, who understands French food the way Gerry does. And surely nobody who writes about it as well as he does.”
- Alan Furst, bestselling author of Mission to Paris
“Tuck this delicious tome in your hamper between Proust’s madeleines and the champagne―then feast your soul. The Dryanskys remind us that in France – at least sometimes and in some places – authenticity still rhymes with simplicity, and great writing makes a fine relish.”
- David Downie, author of Paris to the Pyrenees and the Terroir food series
“Congratulations to Dryansky. It was a great pleasure to read his text, both so well documented and free of polemics.”
- Christian Millau, co-founder of Le Guide GaultMillau, herald and godfather of “La Nouvelle Cuisine” in France
“Coquilles, Calva, and Creme vividly brings back my years of working in Paris in the 1950s. When I contemplate my cooking journey of the last half century, from classic to nouvelle, from fusion to modern American to molecular, the only reminiscences I have is of food that touches my soul or makes me salivate. Gerry Dryansky writes honestly and eloquently about these simple, honest, essential dishes in his engaging, compelling, and delicious memoir.”
- Jacques Pépin, celebrity TV chef, James Beard Award winner.
About the Author
Gerry Dryansky has called Paris home for more than thirty years, two decades of which he spent as the senior European correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler. He has written for magazines and newspapers around the globe and lives in France with his wife, Joanne, who is the coauthor of this volume.
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By their account, French culinary arts are in the process of turning from worshipping sophisticated "trophy" cuisine, with its "shaky claim to art," and returning to the roots of French regional cooking. Amongst the trophies, the accent is on creativity at all costs. As if they had read too much Ezra Pound, whatever these high-profile chefs confect, they must "make it new." A new generation of chefs, however, are returning to la cuisine traditionelle where, as in wine, terroir is everything: the taste of the land as expressed in what it produces. Terroirists they apparently call themselves, throwing down the gauntlet. Culinary perfection from this point of view is achieved when "things are allowed to taste of what they are." The Dryanskys borrow our term "soul food" to describe this effort "to perpetuate rituals of attachment that go back to the Middle Ages." This is the French cuisine that won Alice Waters' heart as a student in France and has made such a difference in our own return to "slow food."
So rather than worshiping at the three-star Michelin culinary temples, the Dryanskys here track down, to name a few, the best bouillabaisse in Marseilles, the best choucroute garni in Strasbourg, or the best steak near Bordeaux (an entrecôte at the Bazas annual fête du boeuf gras -- I'm planning my trip). Along the way you will learn about the people who have committed their lives to their traditional regional cuisine, the wines, aperitifs and digestifs best indulged with them, and the museums and churches nearby not to be missed. And, for lagniappe, as we say in New Orleans, you'll often learn of the eminences grises whom Gerry Dryansky during his triple-threat career has interviewed and/or dined with: Coco Chanel; Christian Millau, co-founder of Le Guide Gault-Millau; or Jacques Médecin, the mobbed-up mayor of Nice whose recipe for daube á la niçoise the Dryanskys here offer.
Rather than Michelin or Gault-Millau, Coquilles, Calva and Crème will be my guide on my next visit to France.
Part memoir, part travelogue and part food writing, the whole is difficult to categorize, but for this reader is certainly greater than any of it's parts. The memoirs are entertaining, the travel writing is comfortable and relaxing, and the food writing is exquisite: no post-modern post-nouveau molecular "stuff" that costs more per ounce than gold (they do not eat 'baby food or foam'), but instead good cuisine bourgeoise; something I could imagine affording or cooking myself.
I bought the book on Kindle, have read it through twice and am now going to buy a hardback copy. I think it's that good.
I bought this on Audible.com and thought maybe I was missing some great pictures, so I bought the book too (very cheap) and the pictures were as boring as the text.
It's hard to make this subject matter boring, but the author excels at it.
Knowing what I know now, I'd pass.
Most recent customer reviews
some good historical and cultural info and photographs.