Friday, July 29, 2011
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
From back of book:
In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman - and never went home again.
Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pave au poivre, the steak's pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce?
Lunch in Paris is the story of a young woman caught up in two passionate affairs - one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Plunging headlong into the most romantic of cities, Bard encounters bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size-two femme fatales. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen) and soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate souffle). The deeper Bard immerses herself in French cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate.
An American in Paris falls in love with a Frenchman and soon enough finds herself relocating to the City of Light - how could I not read this book? From the beginning I was caught up in Elizabeth's world of falling in love and moving to Paris, a city that is both foreign and new to her. A city that will cause her to struggle, not only with the language, food and culture, but also her sense of self. Once married to Gwendal, Elizabeth finds herself falling into the role of the so-called traditional, dutiful wife - keeping house, cooking, and taking care of her husband and his family (her new family). Whatever goals she had with regards to her career fall to the wayside and she soon finds herself riddled with insecurities and fears. As her husband, friends and family find success and happiness, Elizabeth's floundering catches their attention and they begin to worry about her. They try talking to her about what it is she wants to be doing with her life, but unable to discuss these issues aloud, Elizabeth retreats into her cooking and role of caretaker. Eventually though she does acknowledge the fact that her life is in a rut, far from where she had planned on being (professionally) and so she sets out to change her life in ways that will not only help to maker her happy, but also fulfilled.
Filled with recipes and good writing, Lunch in Paris is definitely a great memoir to read. It provides a look at Paris through the eyes of a newbie - someone who is slowly discovering the city bit by bit. Someone who makes mistakes when ordering fruit and veg at the market, someone who learns that simple ingredients can make a delicious meal and also that asking for seconds is a definite no-no. We get to read about all the wonderful delights the city has to offer, along with all the negatives that leave one feeling rather deflated and confused. There are descriptions of love, marriage, family, death and depression. And each chapter ends with recipes, which I actually found to be rather nice. After all, who doesn't need a few new recipes to add to their cooking repertoire, right? I suppose in a way, this book definitely leaves you with a lot of food for thought. Ha ha ha! I know, lame joke.
Anyhow, I must admit that when I first picked up the book I thought it was going to be all about the romance of being in love in Paris, but the more I read, the more I realized it was about so much more. Elizabeth Bard has written a delightfully, engaging book that I would recommend to anyone interested in reading memoirs, or books about France and food. This has definitely been the perfect read for the Paris in July Challenge 2011 - it had Paris, love, sadness and food ( all the makings for a very good read ).