Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book review of Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah



French Village Diaries Book Review Memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah
Mastering the Art of French Eating
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, but that is about the only downside I found with it. 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 it’s own chapter.

The book is a good mix of exploring the food in regional France, giving 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, leaving 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.

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. Available in hardcover a link to Amazon.co.uk is below.