My love for all food-related things must be pretty apparent to you by now. I like to have my fingers in all pies food related – restaurant reviews, book reviews, baking, eating, blogging – you get my drift. So this series follows in natural succession – you see, I have been hoarding (food-related) books since I discovered the joys of convenient online shopping and I really feel the need to share with you all the exciting things that I have been reading. I have to tell someone who doesn’t think I’m not capable of talking about anything but food – so every time a new shipment comes my way and I read it, cover to cover, you will be the first ones I tell. Who knows, maybe someday it turns itself into a cook-book-club!
Lunch in Paris : A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
I love a book that is so picturesque in its manner that it immediately transforms you into the world of the author – not necessarily someone who she keeps talking to on the side (like in a play) but rather where you quietly watch the scenes unfold, like an innocent bystander. Maybe that is why this book has made its way into my preferred books list. I watched on the sidelines as Elizabeth Bard cooked, booked and hooked her way into Paris. But before I delve further into reasons why you must absolutely read this one – I should tell you that this is less a book review than a list. If you’re looking for a list filled with food-related books and little notes about why they might be worth reading, then you’ll know that this book-coaxing is all I aim to do.
I’ll admit that I knew shamefully little about Parisian culture before I read this. Of course, I knew it housed some of the greatest things in the world. I knew that it was the culture capital but I never quite understood the seduction it offered for food crazed lovers. Bard explains why she has this torrid love affair with France. Rightfully, she herself has trouble comprehending why this bad boy of a city attracts her. Her tone is light, entertaining and humorous at times and I can’t help but admire this gutsy attitude as she paves her way into a new city and a new life. There is a welcome element of romance, in fact the book is built around it. But the romance is split three ways – her boyfriend, the city and above all, the cuisine. There is a lot of talk of food and Bard knows why people are reading her book. She uses all the adjectives in the book to describe French cuisine and the book has little cute French bits that really helped me with learning the language outside of getting tutored. The story moves at a fluid pace but I did feel that at certain moments, it slowed down to a crawl. But Bard manages to lap it up and present you with something to devour, page by page. I particularly love the bits where she struggles to find some ground with Parisian markets and if you read this book, I’m sure you will come to appreciate it too for the humor, honesty and downright culture paradoxes.
There are some bits I find particularly endearing – Bard breaking in to her new family as the new bride, especially around the dinner table, I love how Bard’s mother represents the quintessential American – with a lot of optimism, lots of straight talking and little tolerance for Parisian ways. It echoes of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ in many places but I think it has something to do with the fact that its become symbolic for any memoir that includes romance, travel and food and its not fair to compare the two because there are plenty of places where Bard shines, in her own right. A prevalent example is the on going theme is the constant culture comparison. Oh, but it does anything but bore you. It’s a frank account of one woman and you see Paris through her eyes – even the sad, struggling bits. If you liked ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ then you’ll find this a wholesome bedtime read. The recipes are a welcome break and they are so personal that at times you feel like you’re reading it without Bard’s permission. That, right there, is my favorite part of the book. I love that Bard fearlessly shares her time-consumingly-gathered-super-secretive-with-a-ton-of-history-attached recipes with you, some that have been passed down by her family. My favorite recipe is her Aunt Joyce’s Coconut Macaroons. I love the simplicity of the recipe and what it represents in the story. I’d also buy it just for Bard’s helpful suggestions on what to read next/ever/again and again. Definitely buy this one if you’re a kitchen rat with an overactive imagination but borrow it if you thought ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ could have done with a bit of drama but it is definitely, definitely worth a read.
And just because I’m hooked onto Parisian food memoirs: