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Coquilles, Calva, and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair with French Food [Kindle Edition]

Gerry Dryansky , Joanne Dryansky

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Book Description

A celebration and critique of the French culinary landscape, with a gastronomical excursion across the French countryside in search of the unsung cooks who are still doing it right
 
This culinary memoir brings to life some of the most fascinating, glamorous food years in France and reveals gastronomical treasures from gifted artisans of the French countryside.
 
Dryansky’s stories are the stuff of legend—evenings with Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, historic wine auctions and memorable banquets—but Coquilles, Calva, and Crème is more than memories. These same memories prompt a journey across modern-day France, through kitchens, farms, and vineyards, offering a savory experience that can be duplicated by the reader afterward with numerous recipes, most of which have never before been recorded.
 
In the world of today’s professional cooking, publicity-chasing and performance has overshadowed the importance of dining and the food itself. Too often the modern restaurant is a mixture of bizarre novelty and paradoxical clichés. Truly great dining happens when you’re fully engaged in the moment, acknowledging the range of associations that emerge, as Proust wrote, from sensory experiences. From small cafés in Paris to Normandy, Alsace, the Basque country, and beyond, Dryansky takes us on a sweeping sensory journey, with a voice as thoughtful as Kingsolver, as entertaining as Bourdain, and as cogent and critical as Pollan.

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Review

A gastronomical memoir of French cuisine that combines historical facts and traditions with today's best dishes. The Dryanskys' remembrances include the joys of eating ortolans, and drinking an 1874 Mouton Bordeaux at Chateau Mouton Rothschild with Philippe Rothschild and a Japanese ambassador. The authors write of eating leg of lamb with Coco Chanel in the flat above her couture house and pieds de cochon, breaded and fire-roasted pigs' feet, at a brasserie surrounded by local Parisians. The couple has traveled among farms, vineyards and restaurants across the country, and they recall with great love their adventures and meals. They move from the decadent, overblown, gourmet dishes of the past to the simplicity of the terroir movement, "the unique savor of things that are what they are because of where they are." The prose is as rich and delicious as the highlighted meals, and the authors also include some of the chefs' recipes for confident or adventurous home cooks to try. A journey that will delight the palette and nourish the soul. --Kirkus

I have had the incredible good luck to have eaten dozens and dozens of French meals with Gerry Dryansky, and he was never wrong. I mean, never. We would travel down some little street, to some little restaurant, and then: delight, pure pleasure. There s nobody I know, in Paris or New York, who understands French food the way Gerry does. And surely nobody who writes about it as well as he does. --Alan Furst, author of Mission to Paris and the bestselling Spies in the Balkans

Tuck this delicious tome in your hamper between Proust s madeleines and the champagne then feast your soul. The Dryanskys remind us that in France at least sometimes and in some places authenticity still rhymes with simplicity, and great writing makes a fine relish. --David Downie, author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Lights and the Terroir food series

I have had the incredible good luck to have eaten dozens and dozens of French meals with Gerry Dryansky, and he was never wrong. I mean, never. We would travel down some little street, to some little restaurant, and then: delight, pure pleasure. There s nobody I know, in Paris or New York, who understands French food the way Gerry does. And surely nobody who writes about it as well as he does. --Alan Furst, author of Mission to Paris and the bestselling Spies in the Balkans

Tuck this delicious tome in your hamper between Proust s madeleines and the champagne then feast your soul. The Dryanskys remind us that in France at least sometimes and in some places authenticity still rhymes with simplicity, and great writing makes a fine relish. --David Downie, author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Lights and the Terroir food series

About the Author

Gerry Dryansky has called Paris home for more than thirty years, two decades of which he spent as the senior European correspondent for Cond- Nast Traveler. He has written for magazines and newspapers around the globe and lives in France with his wife, Joanne, who is the coauthor of this volume.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1832 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (5 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007V8G5M6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #543,307 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exploring la France Profonde at the Table 14 Aug. 2012
By Henri IV - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's hard to know what to say about this book. I bought it because of the stunningly positive reviews it received, and began it enthusiastically after reading the comments on the back cover. It's a strange book, in my mind. Structurally, it has no table of contents, no index, and the running heads don't note the chapter name, so one cannot determine the scope of what one is reading without thumbing through the entire thing. The center photo collection could be described, I guess, as either charmingly sentimental or corny/clunky, and it seems the latter to me. The title is an editorial creation that I don't think reflects what the book is about. I live in France, I love to eat French food, I'm familiar with many of the dishes the author has enjoyed--and he has a fondness, apparently, for hearty red meat stews of various sorts, which I generally just don't care for, and I detest tripes. The author seems to eat a lot, which I can't do either. I think I know where to find the best boudin noir, the best tomatoes, the best strawberries, in France, probably in the world...without traveling too far. I did read the whole book, which says something for it. But really my enthusiasm doesn't approach that of the reviewers on Amazon or on the book's back cover. It's ok. It's interesting. It took a lot of focused time and thorough research to write it. But I can't say I'd heartily recommend it. Perhaps it helps people who can't come to France dream a bit more precisely about France and its culinary roots, and surely that's a good thing.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A love letter to France 31 May 2012
By Bernadette E. Murray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is nothing short of a great love letter to France from lovers who recount their lives in this wonderful land. The very essence of French culinary culture and tradition is sought, visited, savored and shared with the reader. This is also a sense of loss one feels from what modern progress steals from her. France's glorious culinary traditions are fast fading in place of modernity and convenience, and like worried lovers, the authors write compelling of this. I soon visited Normandy after reading this book, and sought out the very essence of the region as described by Gerry and Joanne Dryansky. It was heavenly. There is something to be said for the most incredibly delicious milk, butter and cheese that hail from this region. I had tasted it already, though, when I read this wonderful, exquisitely conceived book. It's very beautifully written -- a rare find in a book of this kind.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to the soul food of France 7 Aug. 2012
By randy fertel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
With the kind of understatement they must have learned in their lifetime together in France, Gerry and Joanne Dryansky say they led "what some might call enchanted lives." Enchanted indeed. As former bureau chief for Women's Wear Daily, then European correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler, and obviously all the while a formidable trencherman, Gerry Dryansky is a triple threat: fashion, travel, and food. Their wonderful book reflects it, rich in the people, sights, sounds, smells, flavors and micro-cultures of France.

By their account, French culinary arts are in the process of turning from worshipping sophisticated "trophy" cuisine, with its "shaky claim to art," and returning to the roots of French regional cooking. Amongst the trophies, the accent is on creativity at all costs. As if they had read too much Ezra Pound, whatever these high-profile chefs confect, they must "make it new." A new generation of chefs, however, are returning to la cuisine traditionelle where, as in wine, terroir is everything: the taste of the land as expressed in what it produces. Terroirists they apparently call themselves, throwing down the gauntlet. Culinary perfection from this point of view is achieved when "things are allowed to taste of what they are." The Dryanskys borrow our term "soul food" to describe this effort "to perpetuate rituals of attachment that go back to the Middle Ages." This is the French cuisine that won Alice Waters' heart as a student in France and has made such a difference in our own return to "slow food."

So rather than worshiping at the three-star Michelin culinary temples, the Dryanskys here track down, to name a few, the best bouillabaisse in Marseilles, the best choucroute garni in Strasbourg, or the best steak near Bordeaux (an entrecôte at the Bazas annual fête du boeuf gras -- I'm planning my trip). Along the way you will learn about the people who have committed their lives to their traditional regional cuisine, the wines, aperitifs and digestifs best indulged with them, and the museums and churches nearby not to be missed. And, for lagniappe, as we say in New Orleans, you'll often learn of the eminences grises whom Gerry Dryansky during his triple-threat career has interviewed and/or dined with: Coco Chanel; Christian Millau, co-founder of Le Guide Gault-Millau; or Jacques Médecin, the mobbed-up mayor of Nice whose recipe for daube á la niçoise the Dryanskys here offer.

Rather than Michelin or Gault-Millau, Coquilles, Calva and Crème will be my guide on my next visit to France.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for Gourmets 14 Jun. 2012
By Barbara - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A compelling food lover's road journey through beautiful France, meeting fascinating people, eating mouthwatering food, lovingly detailed meal after meal. The author has captured the true flavor, the essence of France and this from someone who has lived in France for more than 30 years!I've already ordered this book for three friends. Believe me, this is one book that's well worth the trip.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gourmet Tour de France 18 Jun. 2012
By Bill Marsano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With round-trip fares from New York to Paris running about $1500, it's a blessing to find this book, which qualifies as a trip in hardback. Your guides are G.Y. and Joanne Dryansky, who have lived in France since 1963--longer, that is, than most Frenchmen. Suffice to say that their half-century of experience means they haven't rushed into the writing of this book. No; `Coquilles, Calva, and Crème' is the product of mature reflection and passionate devotion to French cuisine. Not the big-ticket Michelin stuff offered at blinding prices by the Ducasses and Robuchons and their superstar tribesmen but the oft-neglected cuisine bourgeoisie and plats canailles--traditional cooking that he calls French soul food. The memoir divides roughly into two parts because Dryansky has plenty of experience of top-dollar dining in Paris: he was a general reporter and fashion correspondent for several major U.S. publications. That means he not only ate very well but dined with most of the fashion world's designers and celebrities. As a result there's plenty of gossip in this section, but it's not malicious. Instead, it's cool-eyed and fun: about how Régine missed attending the party of the year [or decade or century] because her elephant(!) got lost in the Bois de Boulonge; that the Duchess of Windsor wasn't really out of line when she peed on the bathroom floor of a three-star restaurant; that Coco Chanel described a critic she despised as `mouth like a sewer, talks like a sewing machine.' The second part follows the Dryanskys on a series of locavore voyages into la france profonde, the deeply rural countryside that most Frenchmen consider the heart and soul of their nation. Their object is a seek-and-enjoy mission aimed at the products, places and producers of traditional cuisine: lampreys and smoked eels; calva distilled the old-fashioned way [unfiltered]; some of the celebrated 246 kinds of cheese; the beouf gras of Bazas; and Billom garlic, cassoulet and Baeckeoffe. The places? Pays d'Auge, Alsace, Normandy, the Auverne and elsewhere. The people range from cheesemakers who persist despite the crushing zealotry of EU sanitation laws and cooks who'd rather work 16 hours a day almost alone than submit to the bullying big-time rat race with its `shrill refrain of new, new, new'. The result is a book that is truly, as Michelin would put it, worth a voyage.--Bill Marsano is an award-winning writer on wine and spirits, travel and food; his blog is pouredwithpleasure.com
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