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French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew Paperback – April 9, 2002
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Mayle's gastronomic baptism occurs when, as a 19-year-old, he dines for the first time in France. "At the first mouthful of French bread and French butter," he writes, "my taste buds, dormant until then, went into spasm." The paroxysm leads to serious food-and-wine perambulations--and, finally, to chapters including "The Thigh-Taster of Vitel" (a frog-eating fete); "Slow Food" (snail love in Martigny les Bains) and "The Guided Stomach" (an investigation of the Michelin Guide restaurant inspection), among others. Readers are also present for a debate on the secret of the perfect omelet; a search for the best possible chicken in Bourg-en-Bresse; and a visit to a St. Tropez restaurant notable for its scantily clad habitués. Those familiar with Mayle's work, and those yet to discover it, are in for a treat. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Peter Mayle accepted the challenge and here's the perfect book for curling up on the porch alongside a glass of cool refreshment. "French Lessons" charts a year in Mayle's life as he travels across France, describing with a combination of droll wit and wine-soaked facts (many times, he couldn't read his notes the day after some festival) how a country blessed with not only a variety of climates and cuisines, but also a people willing to spend large amounts of money on their enjoyment thereof.
I am a longtime fan of Mayle's writing, back when he was writing about pastis and other subjects for "European Travel & Life" magazine, but I hope not an uncritical one. I was disappointed in his account of his return to France in "Encore Provence," and "Hotel Pastis" did not engage me at all. Sometimes, I wonder if, with skills learned in the advertising trade, where he was an executive, he doesn't succeed in giving the French a gloss it doesn't otherwise deserve. Certainly, when discussing chickens from Bresse, the only poultry to have its own label (called appellation contrôlée), he touches only in passing, how most chickens we eat are raised (if we may call it that) in horrible conditions. Not for nothing is it called factory farming.
But "French Lessons" went down like a lightly garlic-flavored escargot. This is a book which celebrates eating and drinking well, and is a balm to the soul as well as incentive for the appetite.Read more ›
"French Lessons" is vintage Peter Mayle. While I enjoy Mayle's fiction as a light and fun change of pace, I really think he is at the top of his form when writing non-fiction. "French Lessons," like the classic, "A Year in Provence," is simply charming. There is just no other way to describe it. The book charms and beguiles you; you lose yourself in it and time just flies. No one seems better able to describe the "real" France than Peter Mayle. And it shows. Most definitely.
Just as with Mayle's previous non-fiction books, I found I could relate to just about everything he wrote in "French Lessons." I had had similar experiences in Provence, in Paris, in the Loire, in Burgundy. One can learn about more than food in this book; Mayle also details the social customs of the areas and the idiosyncrasies of the people. I learned there are people who attend Mass to give thanks for the truffle, a festival where snails are eaten by the dozen and washed down with Gewurztraminer, and an actual "cheese hall of fame" in the town of Livarot. The person honored with the award from this particular hall of fame is expected to eat as much livarot cheese as possible. In another such festival, frogs' legs are the celebrated foodstuff. The annual celebration of the bleu footed poulet in Bourg-en-Bresse and the Marathon du Medoc made for especially hilarious reading.
Mayle takes us from region to region and from town to town...all in the name of great food. We visit festivals, restaurants, chateaux and so many town squares, I lost count.Read more ›
If you like France and you like food, you will like this book. Mr. Mayle travels around going to various festivals that celebrate the eating of snails, or frogs legs, or cheese, etc. There are a couple of absolutely hilarious chapers, one dealing with the "beautiful people" being undressed for lunch in a seaside restaurant in St. Tropez, and the other dealing with going to a health spa, French style. (You have the choice between eating off of the low calorie menu or the gourmet menu. Caloric content is not given on the gourmet menu. After all, this is France!)
Scoop this book up as quickly as you can and enjoy every bite. Bon Appetit!
While not nearly as clever or heart warming as his initial work, "French Lessons" is fun, entertaining, and will heighten your appetite. It is an ideal work for the Francophile, or simply the reader who wishes to travel vicariously to France. It is a perfect summer beach, or long plane ride book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you enjoy French food, culture and travel this quick read book is a must.Published 1 month ago by David H. Leech
Peter Mayle is always a fun and easy read. His love of all things French really come through as well as his love of food.Published 1 month ago by Patricia Cotter
Peter Mayle is always a joy to read. I have yet to be disappointed.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Love food? This is definitely the book for you. It's basically a love letter to French food. For the few non-foodies out there, it might not end up being your favorite book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Delta Stet
I listened to this while driving and bought a copy to share with a friend. The audible book is more enjoyable than reading the text.Published 6 months ago by Lewis A. Shepard