A Taste of Paris: A history of the Parisian love affair with food by David Downie
Curious about the “Parisian love affair with food and wine“? Downie’s A Taste of Paris (one of the tastiest history books I’ve ever come across) is a quest to find out how and why Paris became a food lover’s paradise. Starting at the beginning (in 53BC) to the present day, the book draws on Downie’s extensive experience (he’s lived in Paris since the mid 1980s) and research (he’s the acclaimed author of countless articles, guidebooks and cookbooks as well as history and crime novels and essays) to uncover exactly how Paris developed its rich gastronomic culture and explore where it’s headed today. Downie digs deep into the history of the city to discover the who, where, when, why and how of its culinary past, told through stories linked to his personal experiences. If history had been presented in this manner at high school, I might have paid a little more attention! Divided into 8 parts, each dealing with a specific period in history and containing bite-sized sections within each part, the book also features key dates and key characters mentioned throughout (the French monarchy can be confusing so this is a great feature). This is such a well-written interesting (this seems like far too pedestrian a word to describe all that’s contained within the covers!) book, filled with so much information that it’s earned a permanent place on my reference shelf (and I wish I had had this one when I was writing my own headnotes and sidebars too!). Take a walk through the streets of Paris and trip back in time and savour every delicious moment.
The Food and Wine of France: Eating and Drinking from Champagne to Provence by Edward Behr
This is not a recent release as it came out in 2016, but it’s such a great read and definitely belongs on your “to read” list if you love (learning about) French food and wine. Behr is the editor and publisher of The Art of Eating magazine and the author of 50 Foods and if you’re familiar with those titles, you won’t be surprised to learn The Food and Wine of France is what the publisher calls “a deeply researched investigation into French cuisine”. This is a gastronomic tour of France (which moves “roughly from north to south” of the country), each chapter looking at a town or region and its food history. I originally bought the book as research for my own cookbook but was soon lost in the stories of the foods and the people who produce them; it’s a really fascinating read! Behr’s aim is “to reintroduce [French food], to present some of the people responsible for it”, to show us that the foods and wine of France are “deeply anchored in time and place”. For me it was also a trip down memory lane too as I’ve visited a few of the places mentioned in the book (Gardens of the King in Versailles, Christine Ferber’s jam store in Niedermorschwihr, some of the boulangeries mentioned in Paris, Dijon, Lyon, Colmar, the cheese caves in Roquefort). If you love French food and wines and are even the tiniest bit interested in their history and the artisans and chefs who are responsible for producing them today, this is your book. If you can’t get to France anytime soon, this is a wonderful substitute.
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contain affiliate links for The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a review copy of A Taste of Paris from the publisher. I was not asked to write about this book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are my own. I purchased The Food and Wine of France for myself.