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The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France (P.S.) Paperback – 19 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (19 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062088068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062088062
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

“A mouthwatering, erudite journey through France’s foodie heritage, some of which might be lost forever without the likes of Baxter recalling and showcasing them for today’s diner.” (France Today)

“Baxter’s command of French history and culture offers the reader a cornucopia of anecdote and detail worth savoring.” (Booklist)

“Full of humor, insight, and mouth-watering details, The Perfect Meal is a delightful tour of ‘traditional’ French culture and cuisine.” (Travel and Leisure)

“The most valuable (and equally endangered) tradition restored by Baxter is the oral one. Local characters, friends, chefs, and enthusiasts enliven his quest and reveal each element in the evolution of the menu to be part of a collective cognitive lineage. A must read for foodies, Francophiles, and armchair travelers.” (Library Journal)

“Delightful. ... This is one of those delicious books that tickles the psyche, seduces the senses, and effortlessly enlarges the intellect simultaneously.” (Publishers Weekly)

“We are the beneficiaries of John Baxter’s considerable, vivid love for the expatriate life in Paris.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Reading [John Baxter] is the next best thing to a Paris vacation.” (Boston Globe)

“A wonderful mix of travel memoir and French culinary history.” (Shelf Awareness)

“On a quest to find the soul of traditional French cuisine, John Baxter journeys from Paris to Provence. Along the way, he digs into bowls of bouillabaisse, confiture de vieux garcon and other classics.” (AAA World Magazine)

Winner - Culinary Travel (IACP COOKBOOK AWARDS)

From the Back Cover

IACP Cookbook Award Winner (Culinary Travel)

Part Grand Tour of France, part history of French cuisine: an irresistible journey, from Paris to Provence, to find “the perfect meal”

An expat Paris resident for more than twenty years, John Baxter began noticing an alarming trend: just as species of plants and animals are rapidly facing extinction globally, so too are the traditional ingredients and techniques of classic French cooking and eating. Indeed, he worried that the soul of the world’s most revered national cuisine is in danger of disappearing, as centuries-old ways of cooking, preparation, and farming wither away. Spurred to action, Baxter set off across the country on an unforgettable quest to taste the last great French dishes before they disappear forever—from Paris’s surviving haute cuisine establishments to the tiny local restaurants that still serve the remarkable regional dishes of Provence, Normandy, Cote d’Azur, and more.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By the lambanana TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's a rather tasty book. Descriptive, to the point that with each turn of the page I felt hungry.

Part travel, part recipe book. This can only really work if the writer is interesting and has something new to say.

In this case, John Baxter has tells of what has underwhelmed, delightful anecdotes and we are left knowing what really makes him tick.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Miles VINE VOICE on 15 Sep 2013
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In which the erudite and charming Mr Baxter voyages around France planning a grand repas comprised of the sort of classic French dishes which have disappeared from the menu, from Eel Stew to Roast Ox and all points between. It's a book rich in historical and culinary knowledge, and would be thoroughly enjoyed by Francophiles and Foodies alike. Mr Baxter is obviously a gentleman of the old school, and adding to the pleasurably nostalgic vibe are the sort of cartoons last seen in those red Penguin humour paperbacks of the George Mikes era, and pen portraits of the authors eccentric expat chums, all of whom seem to have been transported intact from the literary Bohemia of 1950s Paris. A real treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Angela TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Aug 2013
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The Perfect Meal is such a subjective thing, and this makes for the interest of this book as John Baxter, an Australian wed to a French lady who has lived in France for many years goes on the search for the perfect antidote to the nouvelle cuisine small plates and ready meals that he sees transforming French cuisine - do the French, he ponders, still roast ox?

As someone who has lived in France themselves I thoroughly enjoyed John's look at French food. I wouldn't necessarily agree with the menu he comes up with at the end (which is included in full at the end of the book along with the recipes to make it), and my memories of what make for an amazing French eating experience are very different to his, but his experiences were an interesting read. He has a good knowledge of all things French, and other aspects of French life are covered in this nostalgic and affectionate look at the French relationship with food, as John travels around France in search of bouillabaisse and truffles. An enjoyable and fascinating read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lapal25 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 July 2013
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What a lovely little book! Perfect for anyone with a love of food or France. Easy to read, full of interesting anecdotes, quirky, funny and entertaining. A perfect gift for the 'difficult to buy for' person in your life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 July 2013
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The author writes in an entertaining and enthusiastic style which really carries the reader along. He sets out to create the perfect meal from traditional French cooking. He travels throughout France to try and find the forgotten byways of French cooking. He tracks down such delicacies as lampreys, and mussels cooked by igniting pine needles and after much research he gets to hear of a village roasting a whole ox.

We hear about Proust, madeleines and lime flower tea as well as reading about the author's visit with his daughter to Illiers - Combray to Proust. We explore the further reaches of caviar and the different types of it as well as read about where anchovies are caught and packed. I think for me the piece de resistance was the chapter about onion soup and how it should be made. I'm not sure I would ever have the motivation to make it like that but just to read about it made this reader salivate.

Illustrated with black and white illustrations within the text and including the final menu for the feast together with some recipes this is a fascinating book and I read it in a couple of days. I shall definitely be trying out the recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon as it sounds absolutely delicious. If you like reading about food, history, geography and people then read this book.
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By G. J. Oxley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Nov 2013
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Australian-born writer John Baxter has lived in Paris for the past 20 years with his French wife. Lucky man. As an author who started out writing science fiction in the sixties, he has a lifetime's involvement in all kinds of literary and film-making endeavours. An ideal and well-travelled man to write this type of book then.

And boy is it detailed and interesting! Mr Baxter goes in search of all those well-known traditional dishes that are embedded in the French psyche. And in this volume he finds and samples them all and the flavours and tastes he describes ooze from the page so that the reader finds him/herself licking their lips as they read along.

Baxter is a fine writer and as near perfect a guide you could expect on a gourmand's tour around the Gallic highways and byways.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Being french, I was very interested to read this book. Yes it is a lovely book, and is full of anectodes about french food and french regions that are famous for their food specialties. It has some recipes in it, but it is not your average recipe book, it offers a mixture of food and travel. Reading this book transports me back to France and makes me want to go on a gastronomy travel too.
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By Clem Fandango VINE VOICE on 17 Oct 2013
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This is a lovely little book which will certainly appeal to all gastronomes or even those for whom eating and drinking is part and parcel of everyday life. John Baxter is described as 'An expat Paris resident' who became alarmed at how traditional ingredients and culinary techniques were-even in the home of gastronomy-disappearing from common use. What followed was an epicurean travelogue which took the author all over France to rediscover and record the great dishes and eateries before the country follows the rest of Europe into fast food and processed junk hell! Despite the author's alarm and concern at these 21st century trends,he retains a dry wit and enthusiasm which shines through.
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