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Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes Hardcover – February 1, 2010
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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
Top customer reviews
Elizabeth met Gwendal while she was living in London (she's from New York). They did the long-distance thing for a while (weekends in Paris? Yes please!) and after two years she took the plunge to move into his cozy Parisian apartment with him.
She shares her struggles with learning French, moving to a foreign country, making new friends, and figuring out what she wants to do job wise. She talks about learning the French attitude of doing what makes you happy versus doing what will earn the most money (as we tend to do in the US), and teaches her husband the anything-is-possible attitude many Americans have. It made sense to me that most of the people in their social circle or those they met didn't automatically start talking about what they did for a living; really, who wants to do that? I'm going to find a way to tell new people I meet about my passion for books, my blog, starting a ladies comic book club, and my cats before I talk about where I am stuck from 8-5 each weekday.
Then, there's the food. Elizabeth does a beautiful job taking us on a walk through the market with her and explaining her troubles in trying to recreate her favorites from home with what is available in Paris. Several recipes are included that were part of stories in the same chapter. She also emphasizes what little quantities the french eat; they deny themselves nothing by eating very small portions. I'm working on this! Though it would help if the quality of food were as good as it is over there...
I have already started reading her next book, Picnic in Provence. I recommend them both!
Amazon is getting really good at recommending books for me. This is one of their recommendations that I probably wouldn't have found without it. I adore this book because, even though we don't travel similar paths in life, Bard and I have similar (universal?) feelings about life's big events - and of course, there's that love of food and cooking. I immediately became immersed in the writing. Bard articulates her love story with Gwendal so well that I feel it with her. You feel her anxiety about moving to and living in Paris. And the food. Bard is unafraid to make and eat new things, like me, she dives right in and is willing to try anything. I love the recipes in this book too! Each chapter has at least two (sometimes several), including both French and American. I highly recommend the summer ratatouille at the end of Chapter 12, I'm not kidding! It's worth the price of the book alone!
Bard's description of Paris - its people, its markets, its food - has kept this book stored in my head for months. And what has made me read it twice in the past year. I feel a genuine escape as I read it. One that I just can't let go of. For me, that's a mark of a great book.
I wanted to like it but couldn't. Took me almost a month to read this. I am a fast reader---2-3 days on a good book. I had to read this for my book club or I would have stopped
This was a light, humorous at times, more about food than love read. I loved reading about the difference between the French way and the American way, such cultural differences beyond language. The recipes were mouth-watering but most were probably a little more complicated than what I make (though that isn't saying much). This is a definite must for francophilies.