The French Village Diaries: top Francophile book reviews – Mastering the Art of French Eating
We love discovering interesting new books on all things French. Lifestyle, cooking, travel – you name it, we’ll check it out. In this new series, Jacqui Brown reviews and shares her top picks when it comes to French-themed books. This week, she’s reviewing ‘Mastering the Art of French Eating’ by the journalist, Ann Mah.
A captivating read
My latest book review is a real gem. Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah was sent to me by the US publishers Penguin, to read and give a fair review.
There are some books that capture you from the minute you open them and this was one of those books. I always felt hungry when reading it, which as my reading time is usually late at night wasn’t good. That is about the only downside I found with this book.
It has also given me itchy feet (again) for this lovely country we live in, but where to head first? Alsace for Choucroute, Brittany for Crêpes, Castelnaudary for Cassoulet, or Provence for Soupe au Pistou are just some of the choices Ann gives us, with each dish featuring in its own chapter.
More than French eating: Ann Mah’s story
The book is a good mix of exploring the food in regional France. It gives some great information and history (but not overdoing it) and letting us into the highs and lows of her life as she tries to settle in Paris.
It should have been a happy time with a three-year Parisian placement for her and her diplomat husband to look forward to. But within the first months, he is sent to Baghdad, and she remains her alone in Paris.
Reading her story was addictive, not just as I was keen to learn more about some of France’s classic dishes and how they evolved, but also because I enjoyed following her personal journey of coping with her new life that was turning out to be a lonely experience.
As a wife in a foreign country, away from family and friends, whose husband regularly travels for work, I can understand only too well, some of the things she was feeling. It would be true to say the food of France saved her and it’s certainly helped me too.
Lessons in food and love
Ann shares a lot in this book, her childhood, her life as a diplomat’s wife, her time alone in Paris and her knowledge about France and it’s lovely food. In the recipes her easy steps-to-success with some of France’s greatest regional dishes have given me the confidence to try them out myself – le vrai cassoulet here I come.
This book would make a great gift for the food-loving Francophile in your life.
Do you enjoy classic French dishes? Which are your favourite recipes? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.
1. © Jaqueline Brown
2. Crepes, by 3dman_eu via Pixabay
3. Vue de Paris centrée sur la tour Eiffel, by Taxiarchos228 via Wikipedia You can also read the interview with Ann Mah, the author of – Mastering the Art of French Eating – the book reviewed above. This article was first published on The French Village Diaries and republished here with permission as part of our content collaboration with Jacqui Brown.