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Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris Hardcover – 26 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (26 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025992
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.6 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By FrenchVillageDiaries on 24 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
There are some books that capture you from the minute you open them and this was one of those books. I always felt hungry when reading it, which as my reading time is usually late at night wasn't good, but that is about the only downside I found with this book. It has also given me itchy feet (again) for this lovely country I live in, but where to head first? Alsace for Choucroute, Brittany for Crêpes, Castelnaudary for Cassoulet, or Provence for Soupe au Pistou are just some of the choices Ann gives us, with each dish featuring in it's own chapter.

The book is a good mix of exploring the food in regional France, giving some great information and history (but not overdoing it) and letting us into the highs and lows of her life as she tries to settle in Paris. It should have been a happy time with a three-year Parisian placement for her and her diplomat husband to look forward to, but within the first months he is sent to Baghdad, leaving her alone in Paris. Reading her story was addictive, not just as I was keen to learn more about some of France's classic dishes and how they evolved, but also because I enjoyed following her personal journey of coping with her new life that was turning out to be a lonely experience. As a wife in a foreign country, away from family and friends, whose husband regularly travels for work, I can understand only too well, some of the things she was feeling. It would be true to say the food of France saved her and it certainly helped me.

Ann shares a lot in this book, her childhood, her life as a diplomat's wife, her time alone in Paris and her knowledge about France and it's lovely food.
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Format: Hardcover
*This book was sent to me by the publishers for review.

Ann Mah is very good writer. The way she links from stories about her life to her exploration of French food is extremely well done - very smooth and delightful to read.

I do not share her passion for Paris though, so all the lyrical descriptions which illustrate her deep-seated love of the city passed somewhat over my head. What I did like was the way she investigated her food choices so thoroughly. She went all over France and met all sorts of interesting people, and official groups dedicated to maintaining the heritage and standards of certain dishes (and wine). I learned lots of things about the iconic dishes of France, which is always a pleasure when you've been in the country for a long time, and I loved the way she enjoyed her food. I'm sure she's a joy to feed.

The book is not just about Paris and food though. Ann Mah tells us a bit about her childhood and how she fell in love with Calvin, a diplomat, which meant she had to put her career to one side as they travelled about the world. I liked reading about how she dealt with that and how she found the means to overcome some of the issues of being an accompanying spouse.

This is an enjoyable book if you like Paris, France and food, and appreciate an honest approach to love and life. All is not rosy in Ann Mah's life, but she deals with it, and comes across as a someone it would be fun to have lunch with.

This book would make an excellent present for a Francophile foodie.
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By Miss Gee Hamilton on 23 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Well Written Interesting subject, the story was slow to start but like good wine got better for keeping look forward to the next
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 124 reviews
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Try the recipes!!! 15 Sept. 2013
By Brad4d - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ann Mah and her diplomate husband get a dream assignment to Paris. Three years in the city of lights is a recipe for heaven to foodie Ann until her husband is sent off to Iraq for a year on an unaccompanied tour. Ann, lonely and shy, must learn to deal with this and this book is part of her solution. Ann visits 10 regions in France and delves into the signature dish of each area. If your taste buds aren't deficient, you should be drooling by this time. At the end of each region is the recipe for that signature dish. Having lived in Paris myself, I can understand Ann's dilemma but I think her solution is brilliant. She finds a job and then travels the different regions of France in search of the "real" thing in a signature dish. Try the recipe on page 226 for Boeuf a la Bourguignonne...yummmmmmmmmmm.
My advice about this book is , Buy it, Cook with it and enjoy. Bon Appetite!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Just put on a Charles Trenet CD, turn to Page 1, and ... Voila! 7 Sept. 2013
By B. J. Lewis - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
... You're there. This is a delightful little book for the homesick Francophile. If that describes you, expect to devour it in a day or two. And even if you have already read a dozen or more in the genre, I believe you'll find a fresh approach in Ms. Mah's "journal."

She not only covers the specialties and uniqueness of my favorite regions, Paris, Provence and Burgundy, but several I have not had the opportunity to visit -- Alsace, for example. And with each area, she provides the definitive recipe for and history of their signature dish. (All this time I've topped my Cassoulet with bread crumbs! Quelle horror!) Her recipe for Boeuf Bourguignonnne is the classic bacon and mushroom version, but she teases the reader with the mention of "a fine stew" she was served in Beaune, "sparked with the tang of ginger and orange peel," something I intend to copy at the first opportunity. And I can't wait to try my hand, once again, at "Aligot," this time using her suggestion of fresh mozzarella as a substitute for the unavailable "tome fraiche."

So while this is not a cookbook in form, but a most enjoyable travel journal, I am praying for an imminent break in our present Colorado heatwave so I can prepare several of her mouth-watering sounding French classics
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Exploring who you are through the food you eat 10 Sept. 2013
By atmj - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having read quite a few food and cooking oriented books written by food authors who were also chefs, I find this book is unique as author Ann Mah. She is a less adventurous eater and more like the rest of us. I feel that her research of this book, is done in a way, that addresses those of us that don't know the history of area or the recipe being discussed. so I get more out of her approach. I don't know my history (much less France's) and this was delivered in such a way, not to be facts and figures, but the local stories that made up the past of an area.

Ann Mah, had a unique opportunity to live in the city of her dreams, but unfortunately not the way she envisioned it. Instead with her husband miles away in Bagdad she found herself spending this time alone. Fortunately for us she has made the best of it and taken the opportunity to pursue her fascination of French cooking. I find her unique situation (being of Chinese heritage, but being American), while having a nomadic experience in other countries fascinating. I never thought how awkward that could be in China, looking like a local, while clearly not being one. It seems less of an issue for American's in Europe. The irony of this displacement while pursuing the food heritage of a country, is not lost on the reader. So much of who we are is what we eat. The comfort foods of each generation are often passed down and define us. I found this especially pertinent in the section she discusses Alsatian food. Clearly though the area was passed between German and France several times and languages were mandated, the food was unaffected.

Each time I have traveled, it has been the food of the area that has stayed with me. That unique taste that when I recall it takes me back to that place and time. Ann Mah has captured that.
This book is not just a travelogue of food in Paris and France, but that slice of life that was hers at that time. You felt her isolation, insecurity in her adopted language, concern for local custom and awkwardness of meeting new people. You also felt her joy in living in France along with the way of life there. And I for one am thankful she shared it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A delightful read that captures the many flavors of France 24 Sept. 2013
By Cook vs. books - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read Ann Mah's "Mastering the Art of French Eating" on the heels of The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France and Coquilles, Calva and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair wtih Real French Food; I spent three weeks touring France last fall, so was a bit nostalgic for the various flavors I encountered from south to north as I made my way from Toulouse through the Perigord Noir, the Loire Valley, Normandy and finally Paris. Mah's husband, a diplomat, lands a plum assignment to Paris: three years together to explore the city and its many boulangeries, cafes, and markets. An aspiring food writer, Ann is thrilled with the possibilities. They find an apartment and unpack the many boxes that have lived for years in storage (due to her husband's assignments, they have moved around frequently). But the unthinkable happens: her husband is called away to Iraq on a one-year unaccompanied tour, leaving Ann to navigate an unfamiliar language and city.

During her year on her own, she traces the origin of various French specialties by heading straight for the source: AAAAA andouillette in Troyes, crepes in Brittany, cassoulet in Toulouse, pistou in Provence, boeuf Bourguignon in Burgundy. Beautifully written and with touches of humor, each chapter concludes with the star recipe that it focuses on. And yes, you'll find healthy sprinklings of wisdom from Julia throughout. There are fascinating cultural tidbits (and lots of dashes of local customs and lore) that serve to spice up the individual stories and portraits of individual regions. And much like a long-simmered cassoulet, all of these elements form a delicious whole.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Delicious! 11 Sept. 2013
By Barbara Brennan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A very personal experience about living in France, Ann Mah has written a charming memoir about relocating to Paris only to find out that her foreign service husband has been called away to Iraq, leaving them with Skype visits and Ann alone to eat and explore her way through the city and beyond. I know what it is like to land in another country and be alone - in my case it was Rome - and even though you have open air markets and cafes and restaurants at your disposal, there is an aching loneliness that pervails, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how she adapted to the circumstances and, being a journalist, she set out to about French cuisine and write about her discoveries. Mah does a magnificent job, taking the reader along on her journeys to the regions as she describes the local speciality and offers up the recipe at the end of each section. Beautiful, enjoyable, and heart warming, this is a unique book on the much-written about the country and its food.
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