Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Happy Bastille Day!

If you aren't fortunate enough to be in Paris today (I wish!), I have some fantastic French suggestions for you to enjoy:

For all you history buffs (I am no exception), The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, A Life by David Lawday.The Giant of the French Revolution sweeps one along in a gathering floodtide of rich description, brilliant characterization, subtle political analysis and breathless suspense. David Lawday has written a masterful, spine-tingling thriller - except that every word in this compulsively readable book is true.”—Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War

If you are looking for a trip to France (who isn’t?) you should check out A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. “In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Another great choice is Joanne Harris’ Chocolat (yes, the movie starred Johnny Depp): When beautiful, unmarried Vianne Rocher sweeps into the pinched little French town of Lansquenet on the heels of the carnival and opens a gem of a chocolate shop across the square from the church, she begins to wreak havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Her uncanny ability to perceive her customer's private discontents and alleviate them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and happiness, but enrages Pere Reynaud, the local priest. Hailed as "an amazement of riches few readers will be able to resist" by The New York Times Book Review, Chocolat is a timeless and enchanting story about temptation, pleasure, and what a complete waste of time it is to deny yourself anything.

David Sedaris brings the laughter in Me Talk Pretty One Day, which chronicles the trials and tribulations he faces as “a recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of "Naked", presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French.”

For the gourmand (and you haven’t already read Julia Child’s My Life in France) I will point you towards Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. “Barefoot in Paris is suffused with Ina’s love of the city, of the bustling outdoor markets and alluring little shops, of the bakeries and fromageries and charcuteries—of the wonderful celebration of food that you find on every street corner, in every neighborhood. So take a trip to Paris with the perfect guide—the Barefoot Contessa herself—in her most personal book yet.”

Queen of the Kitchen Penelope suggests Paris Patisseries: History, Shops, and Recipes: This book is an absolute feast; no amount of decadence is spared. It’s a culmination of thinking, perceiving and adjusting throughout the centuries. What I love about this kind of pastry (truly an Art) is that all senses are involved, which makes it an experience from which Proustian memories are born. This in an invaluable resource on the best patisseries in Paris: if you find yourself amongst case after glistening case you shall never want for inspiration or choice. The photographs and history through the book are awe inspiring, as are the recipes which are worthy of any repertoire. Absolutely Stunning!

Vivre la France!

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