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Posts Tagged ‘France’

Brrrr. Baby, it’s cold outside. No matter. These frigid temperatures make it all the better to cozy up with a book. In bed. Under a pile of blankets. Wearing very thick socks. Mittens, however, are no good, as they would get in the way of turning the pages.

So if these below zero temperatures make you hungry as you struggle to keep your body temperature at 98.6, then we have a couple of titles to fill you up. The best news of all is that they are both calorie free.
White  Truffles in Winter by N. M. Kelby (2011). Luscious. If you could never read the words truffle, champagne, lavender honey and fois gras enough, then add this novel to your list.

In this appetizing story, author Kelby imagines the last days of the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935). It’s clear that she’s thoroughly researched and included many details from his illustrious career (Escoffier was the designer of the Titanic’s menus, one of  Sarah Bernhardt’s lovers, a business partner of the hotelier Cesar Ritz, the creator of the modern restaurant kitchen layout, and the designer of such immortal recipes as “Peach Melba” and “Cherries Jubilee”). But this talented writer pushes further and imagines that which “is left unsaid,” believing it to be the most interesting part of  any life.

The first pages unfold with Escoffier’s ailing wife, Delphine, wishing for him to create a dish of her very own. Though they have been married for decades, he has never named one after her. They are both dying and it is in their family kitchen that a lifetime of love is explored, remembered, savored, and interpreted for the first time.

This is more than just a book for food lovers. It’s a sensuous, poetic story that brings details from this era of history to life so that readers can truly taste it. ~Lisa Cadow

The Hundred Foot Journey (2010) by Richard C. Morais. How did I miss this toothsome treasure when it was first published? Some reviewers have described it as Bollywood meets “Ratatouille.” That’s fitting as this fictional story chronicles the development of a talented chef from his boyhood in India through a brief adolescence in England to a full-fledged culinary career in France. But there is more to it than that.

The main character, Hassan, rises above cultural prejudices, crippling accidents, and jealous competitors to shine in his art despite a cut-throat working environment. Culinary enthusiasts will savor the descriptions of oysters (who knew they could be so tricky?!), French kitchens and country markets. Francophiles will love reading about the Alps and villages of the Jura. But the story really shines once Hassan reaches Paris, the pinnacle of all things epicurean. As a former senior editor at Forbes magazine, author Morais keeps the story moving while seamlessly explaining the fiscal realities, risks, and politics involved in running a multi-million dollar restaurant. This book is an education in flavor, talent, and another tantalizing take on the history of fine dining. Read it and eat! ~Lisa Cadow

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Yes, another summer has passed and I read quite a few  books.  Challenged by the BookJam’s other Lisa to reflect upon my summer reading (would you guess she is married to a teacher?), I realized that I spent the summer with my sons, Harry PotterPercy Jackson  and random Super Heroes.

I’d love to be able to impress and report that with my non-kid reading time I dedicated my energies to the classics or to edgy modern literature, but alas I did not. Instead, I kept picking up mysteries. I blame this on the fact that I found two series that once started, I was driven to finish in one fell swoop.  And well, that basically filled the summer. But boy did that entail a lot of armchair travel! These two series took me to the ever entertaining French countryside and San Francisco.

The first of these series belongs to the author Martin Walker.  I read the initial book in this set  – Bruno, Chief of Police: a novel of the French countryside – years ago and enjoyed it, but I can’t say I loved it.

That opinion changed when someone put his second novel, The Dark Vineyard: a novel of the French Countryside, in my hands.  In this book, Mr. Walker hits his stride both with both his story telling capabilities and in developing the character of Bruno. I devoured it and then plunged right into reading his third and latest installment – Black Diamond: a mystery of the French Countryside.  In addition to spending part of his year in the south of France, Mr. Walker is the Senior Director of the Global Business Policy Council and as such appears both knowledgeable about the region and well, literate.

The second series of mysteries that kept me occupied – and traveling – was the “Dismas Hardy series” by John Lescroart.  As someone who was lucky enough to live in San Francisco in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I’ll try just about any book that takes place in that city by the bay.

I found this series because my husband reads thrillers.  He gave me one in an airport years ago; I read it and promptly forgot about it. This summer, though, he loaded a few onto my iPad and I was hooked.  As with Mr. Walker’s series, I read the first, then another and a third and kept plowing right on through the entire set.

And, while I often turn my nose down at the thought of a thriller, these thrillers are my new mind candy.  Why?  They allow me to live again in my old hometown, if only for the duration of the novel.  They have two interesting main characters – Dismas Hardy and his best friend, homicide detective Abe Glinsky, each supported by intelligent families.  And as a bonus, and possibly most importantly to me, each plot places you firmly in San Francisco and provides an enjoyable page turner.

My summary – Mr. Lescroart’s novels are great books for anyone missing San Francisco and/or wanting some escapist reading. Nothing But the Truth begins the series, but you can start just about anywhere.

For additional mysteries that transport you to interesting places, I recommend Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache novels set in the modern-day Quebec countryside, Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobb’s series set in Post WWI London, Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Sweeney St. George series set in Boston/New England, and Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series set in our home state of Vermont.  Luckily, three of the four series have a 2011 installment for you to enjoy.

Happy reading and happy traveling! Lisa Christie

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LISTEN NOW to “Books That Make Us Laugh”  or download the podcast at http://www.box.net/shared/gxbfpuiysy

A very funny walk

In the “Books That Make Us Laugh” jamcast Lisa and Lisa share some books that make us chuckle, or at least smile, every time. However, we each interpret this topic a bit differently. Lisa LC chose books that made her smile, not necessarily laugh out loud. J Lisa C chose the laugh-out-loud types. Our choices are:

Lisa LC – The Family Man  by Elinor Lipman,  A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, and  The Dud Avocado a little known work by Elaine Dundy.

J Lisa C – Anything recorded byDavid SedarisA Walk in the Woods
 and Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town in America
by Bill Bryson, Frindle, The Landry News
and No Talking all by Andrew Clements, also good as audio books. 

Recorded January 2010.

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