Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lunch in Paris - Elizabeth Bard

Lunch in Paris:
A Love Story, with Recipes
As Midwestern weather turns dreary and cold, I appreciate books like Lunch in Paris more than ever. An American in Paris meets food memoir. A perfect escape from drizzly days and the barrenness of local, seasonal produce.

Elizabeth Bard was born and raised on the East Coast of the USA. She fell in love in Paris, eventually marrying her Frenchman and settling down to life as an expatriate. Her memoir spans from meeting Gwendal (Gwen-DAL) to present day. The pages are filled with her story of acclimating to a new culture, a new family, and new culinary experiences.

I resonated with Elizabeth right from the start.  She described her sense of adventure thus: "It's not that there's no free spirit in me. But it's a free spirit with a five-year plan." I hear that loud and clear. Understanding her personality in that way, I think, gave me a unique perspective on her story.

As a newlywed with an appreciative palate and an intense wanderlust, this book spoke straight to my heart. Bard is basically living out one of my dreams: move to Europe, fall in love with dashing foreigner, eat their luscious cuisine. Side note: I'm totally thankful for my amazing, American husband who eats whatever I'm experimenting with in the kitchen. Of course, I wouldn't complain if he had an accent and moved me across the Atlantic.

Bard ends each chapter with loose recipes. I thought this was a great addition. After all, when you are reading a food memoir, you are almost always dying to try the food out yourself. If you don't want to try the food the author is describing, they are doing something wrong.  Bard offers up things as simple as Fresh Mint Tea and as complex as Braised Beef with Red Wine, Garlic, and Thyme.  The recipes clearly come not from fancy test kitchens but the family kitchen.  She has instructions for Pasta à la Gwendal and her stepfather's famous Fettuccine Alfredo.  You know without a doubt that these are things she has and will make time and again.

I also loved that Bard topped off her book with a list of her own literary suggestions. She includes some cookbooks, but mostly it's fiction pieces that she has enjoyed. I think that was a great idea.  If an author has written something I've enjoyed, I think there is at least a moderate likelihood we could enjoy other authors together.  

You know my love for food memoirs. While nothing will ever, ever top Gabrielle Hamilton's masterpiece, Elizabeth Bard has certainly made her mark in the genre. I definitely recommend picking up this delectable little book. Feast on her heartfelt stories and then move on to her cozy comforts for the table.

Pages: 314
Date Completed: November 2, 2013

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