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MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING by Ann Mah – 5 Star Review & Giveaway
October 9th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING:

Lessons of Food and Love From a Year in Paris

 

17675004

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Pgs: 288

Thank you to Pamela Dorman Books for providing a copy for the giveaway! (See below)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE TO COOK! Cooking is a way for me to nurture the people I care about. Most of the cooking I do is simplistic, but I always pour a lot of love into each dish. I am not the type of person who collects cookbooks, but I ADORE recipes with a story. Family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, food that has a history and holds memories for those who eat it. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll savor every page of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING!

(Oh, and one more thing: Julia Child is mentioned in this book. My nickname for my grandma was Julia Child. I used to call her up and when she answered I would say, “May I please speak with Julia Child?” And my grandma knew that I had a cooking question. I cherish that memory sooooo much and whenever I make a recipe that she passed down to me, I’m reminded of that very special bond we had and how cooking and eating that delicious food brought us closer together.)

For all my Wisconsin and Illinois blogger/author/librarian friends, you can bet we’ll be eating something from this book at my annual “A Novel Cuisine Luncheon.”

From Goodreads: 

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.

So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city.  Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.

Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Timesbestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.

My Review:

From page one, Ann Mah transported me to Paris! I savored each tasty page, identified with her frustrations over cultural differences, and travelled along side her as she journeyed throughout France, searching for the best cuisine.

I found myself drifting into memories of Paris and France, sipping wine, eating in cafes and restaurants. Most of the memories were joyous, but some came with a flush of embarrassment as I remembered that we initially ate like barbarian Americans, stuffing food down our throats in comparison to our French counterparts. In France, eating is an art form, something to be savored over hours. (Dinner started at 8 pm – if not later – and would go on for hours. Sometimes people sat until midnight or later. Can’t imagine a restaurant here allowing patrons to sit that long. In that period of time, they’d rotate at least 2-3 more sets of guests.) I thought about this and others awkward and embarrassing moments after Mah shares some of hers.

Mastering the Art of French Eating is much more than a book about food. It captures the author’s struggles to create a life for herself after her diplomat husband is given a year assignment in Iraq. Mah makes some comparisons to her own life to the famous chef, Julia Child. Like Child’s husband, Mah’s husband is a diplomat. Mah was raised on watching Julia’s show and when she was a child, she cooked recipes from Child’s cookbooks. There are plenty of other connections that culinary fans with enjoy.

The subtitle for this novel is: Lessons in Food and Love From a Year in Paris. Yes, there are lots of lessons about food and readers will love the stories and the history behind the tastes and smells. Her trips across France are vivid and readers will have no problem picturing the countryside and the people she met. The lessons on love are interwoven and subtle. Mah had to learn to love herself in a different way, to appreciate what she has to contribute or stay locked up in her apartment alone and lonely. Food helps her get out into the streets of Paris and out of her comfort zone. There’s also the love she has for her husband and how they stay connected so far apart from each other.

I absolutely recommend this novel for anyone who loves Paris. France. Cooking. Eating. Or if you appreciate a well-written memoir. There are recipes included throughout the book. You bet that I’ll be trying plenty of them!

About Ann Mah:Ann-in-Paris-KGL

From her blog:

I’m a food and travel writer and author of a food memoir, Mastering the Art of French Eating (Viking Penguin), and a novel, Kitchen Chinese (HarperCollins). My articles have appeared in the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune and other publications. I currently split my time between Paris and New York City; I love eating everywhere. Thank you for sharing my food adventures!

To learn more about Ann, check out her website.

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5 Responses  
Betsy Kaplan writes:
October 9th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

My mom would freeze cookies and I would sneak into the freezer and take them, thinking she didn’t know I was doing it. She wasn’t a very good cook, but her cookies were good.

Judith F Worm writes:
October 9th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I have owned Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking for many years. It was a gift to me from a dear friend who, like me, was also a French teacher in Wisconsin. This same friend also submitted my name to the Milwaukee Journal series of articles called Best Cook on the Block. There was a article about how my students did weekly French food presentations in French in class. Each student chose a recipe of a traditional French dish, prepared it at home, brought it to class, talked about in French and then served it to classmates. The newspaper article also featured me with my son at the Outpost Natural Foods Co-op, where I bought (and still do now, some 35 years later) unprocessed food for my family. The article featured some of my recipes. One of them was my version of Julia Childs’ French Onion Soup recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My recipes eventually were included in the Milwaukee Journal Best Cook on the Block Cookbook that was available for sale to the public. The newspaper article also boosted sales and membership for Outpost Natural Foods.

Suzy writes:
October 9th, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Oh, I want this book. I love everything French!!!

Sarah Kealy writes:
October 17th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower at night and seeing it all lit up. I went with one of my daughters and I’ll never forget it. I also saw the Rolling Stones in Paris, which was one of those moments I’ll never forget!

Lynn Wiese Sneyd writes:
October 21st, 2013 at 1:17 pm

A cold beer and a brat at the Fourth July picnic at Klode Park! – I’m a Wisconsin girl. 😀

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