Are you like me and really enjoy reading the “useful phrases” in the back of guide books? Do you laugh and wonder who on earth decides what is and isn’t a useful phrase for travellers? It’s one of my favourite parts of travel when I am in a country where I don’t speak the language (though I will admit to being frustrated at not being able to understand the locals or communicate with them beyond charade-type attempts). Today for French Fridays, I’m sharing a little book I came across when I was buying Edible French and one of those “You might be interested in…” links popped up. Normally I am adamant about sticking to my guns and not adding $20 to an order that’s $2 short to qualify for free shipping and ignore those suggestions but I’ll admit the cover of this one was so enticing that I couldn’t resist…
After a short introduction and a note on French grammar, the book is divided into five sections and 15 chapters: Eating the French Way (Meals, Where to Eat and Drink), Grocery Shopping (Shopping, Specialty stores, Produce markets, At the Butcher Shop, At the Fishmonger’s, At the Cheese Shop, At the Produce Store), Beverages (Wine, Hard Alcohol and Beer), Traditional French Dishes (Typical French Dishes, Festive Dishes) and In the French Kitchen (The French Kitchen, Recipes). So, pretty much French for every situation involving food that you cold think of!
Whether you’re going to Paris for the first time as an exchange student and wonder how you’ll manage groceries or you’ve planned to spend your summer under the sun of the French Riviera and are eager to try out local specialties; whether you simply want to improve your cooking skills and impress friends at dinner parties with unheard-of recipes or you love French cuisine and aim to learn as much as possible about it; whatever the reason, you have picked up the right book.
Each chapter gives an explanation of its topic, giving you valuable insights into the “what” and “why”, then going on to give you the “how” – the actual language you’ll need to navigate that meal, store or recipe. It’s so much more than a phrase book. At just over 200 pages it’s a goldmine of information and its compact format means you can tuck it in your purse so it’s easily accessible on the go.
For example, say I wanted to order something to drink with my meal (as one might in France!)…
The “Wine” chapter includes information about when to drink wine, where to buy it and a brief introduction to the French wine-producing industry. Some necessary vocabulary follows (including my favourite “Allons on se prend une coupe/ Come on, let’s have a glass of champagne!” because, I mean, why not, right?) and then some very detailed (but not boring!) information is outlined. With information about everything from terroir, appellation and cépage/ grape variety to choosing a wine (with helpful vocabulary for communicating with your sommelier) as well as guidelines for pairing your wine with your meal, this section includes hints about “sure bet” wine (which will earn you nods of approval from your fellow diners), extraordinary wines (those bottles that are more an investment than for drinking right away) as well as wines you may never have heard of but which are worthwhile tasting in France as you might not be able to get a hold of them back home (and some of them are more affordable alternatives to the wines you are more familiar with – ever had a Crémant de Bourgogne instead of a Champagne, for example?).
There are no photographs in the book, just simple, charming line drawings throughout but don’t be put off by its plain pages. The information in this book is golden. If you’re at all interested in the French language and food, you need to buy this book. Whether you’re planning a trip to France or not. The Francophile, the teacher and the food lover in me love everything about this book. There’s something for all of us! Highly recommended. And yes, there’s a copy in our vacation rental home in South West France 😉
Please note: The product links from Amazon and The Book Depository are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!