Title: Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris
Author: Ann Mah
Release Date: September 26, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Memoir, Foodie, Nonfiction, Travel
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ann Mah’s dream was to live in Paris, so when her diplomat husband was assigned to the city for a three-year posting, she was ecstatic. That is, until her husband was transferred to Iraq for a year. Alone in a foreign city, Mah turned to food to understand and appreciate this culture that she’d admired from the outside for so long.
Ann Mah’s Mastering the Art of French Eating is a must-read for any travel memoir fan or foodie. Her descriptions are delectable and her explorations of French culture and history are not to be missed.
Food and travel go together like…well, wine and cheese, I suppose. It’s understandable why so many travel memoirs have elements of food and vice versa; it’s a great way to come to know and understand a different culture, especially if you have the time to explore the history of native dishes. But these memoirs are becoming more and more common, and not all of them are worth reading. What sets Ann Mah’s Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris apart from these more mediocre efforts is simple: it’s the memoir portion of the book.
Too often, authors forget that while, yes, we want to read about the travel and food, we’re also interested in your story. The personal aspect has to be there to draw the reader in; the reader needs to connect emotionally with the author. Mah does an exceptional job with this; readers will feel her emotions on every page of the book. Her descriptions are vivid and delicious, but it’s her honesty that elevates Mastering the Art of French Eating and absolutely makes it worth reading.
Pick up Mastering the Art of French Eating for the great narrative, then, but you’ll want to stay to read about Mah’s interesting experiences. She really delves into the history of the dishes she explores, from crepes to beef Bourguignon, and gives the reader insight into both French culture and cuisine. The recipes at the end of each chapter are not only delectable, but Mah concedes that readers likely will not be able to find the same ingredients in the United States as where the recipe originated from in France. Therefore, while she tells you how the dish is supposed to be prepared, she also includes substitutions to make things easier.
Mastering the Art of French Eating is a fast read, but one that’s easy to appreciate. Be warned, though: have some snacks handy while reading, because this is a book that will have you running to the fridge between every chapter.
Other books by Ann Mah: