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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be read on an empty stomach!
For devotees of Peter Mayle's French frolics, his antics with a knife, fork and a corkscrew are a must. He takes you on a gastronomic tour de France, which made me instantly reach for my passport and head across the Channel. Not only does Peter Mayle extol the virtues of the traditional French culinary phenomena (snails, frogs' legs), but he also delves into other less...
Published on 21 Oct 2001

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3.0 out of 5 stars I just don't love it
When my book club chose French Lessons, I was pretty happy, because I have read a couple of other books of his and really liked them. I just didn't love this. I felt that the shorter pieces were all a bit same-y - Englishman goes to a festival celebrating a wierd food and it turns out to be delicious and he drinks too much. Rinse and repeat. If you want to read a Peter...
Published on 14 Sep 2009 by foodycat


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be read on an empty stomach!, 21 Oct 2001
By A Customer
For devotees of Peter Mayle's French frolics, his antics with a knife, fork and a corkscrew are a must. He takes you on a gastronomic tour de France, which made me instantly reach for my passport and head across the Channel. Not only does Peter Mayle extol the virtues of the traditional French culinary phenomena (snails, frogs' legs), but he also delves into other less well known delights (boudin, poulet de Bresse). What's more he even provides a list of contacts so you can discover all these delicacies for yourselves! For anyone new to Peter Mayle, I would personally recommend starting with his Provence books and then move onto this when you have developed a flavour for his writing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping a stiff upper lip at a clothing optional lunch, 21 Nov 2002
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
For several years, and through many pages of several books, expatriate Brit Peter Mayle has been a most congenial guide to the victuals, drink and lifestyle of Provence, the site of his residence in France. In FRENCH LESSONS, subtitled "adventures with knife, fork and corkscrew", we vicariously accompany the author on gastronomic fieldtrips to other French provinces near and far. Mayle sometimes falls prey to overindulgence in food and wine when accompanied by a like-minded, hedonistic, male pal, and not under the watchful gaze of the Missus. Yet, whether he's reveling at the festivities of local fairs celebrating the delights of truffles, frogs' legs, cheese, escargots, or an elite breed of chicken, he remains in the constant, unobtrusive good humor that one expects from an Englishman abroad. Peter remains smooth and unflappable, though not completely unappreciative of the local female talent, even when dining amidst the almost-naked lunch crowd at a beachside bistro near St. Tropez. And when the going gets tough, the tough get going, as he leisurely observes, glass in hand, a runners' marathon through the Bordeaux vineyards, and the high drama of a wine auction in Burgundy.
Probably one of the more enlightening chapters is towards the end of the book, as the author does a behind-the-scenes report on the inspectors employed by the Michelin Guide, and the evolution of its star rating system. (This last bit was most instructive, though it still doesn't explain why Guido's Big Apple Pizza Palace down at the corner has no Michelin stars at all.)
Peter Mayle is one of those chaps, a bon vivant to the core, with whom it would be a true privilege to share a bottle of wine, a baguette, some stinky cheese, and (even) garlic-drenched snails at an outdoor café in some remote French village. His books continue to provide considerable pleasure and entertainment, and I shall continue to buy them without hesitation.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I just don't love it, 14 Sep 2009
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When my book club chose French Lessons, I was pretty happy, because I have read a couple of other books of his and really liked them. I just didn't love this. I felt that the shorter pieces were all a bit same-y - Englishman goes to a festival celebrating a wierd food and it turns out to be delicious and he drinks too much. Rinse and repeat. If you want to read a Peter Mayle book, go with A Year in Provence or Toujours Provence.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No wonder the French can't stand the English, 11 April 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew (Random House Large Print) (Hardcover)
Peter Mayle has obviously still not got over the Battle of Hastings.

He comes over as an odious smug Little Englander who writes tosh about the French.

Other smug Little Englanders buy his books and chortle at the way he ridicules the French.

Not only do they eat frogs' legs and never take a shower but also spend their time shrugging their shoulders, making faces and answering simple questions put by decent English blokes like Mayle - in French! Quel toupet!

Those ridiculous frogs, you may remember, were the forefathers of a handful of Normans who invaded England in 1066 and made mincemeat out of the English before turning them into their slaves.

For good measure, they then carved their way through Wales and went over to Ireland and set the foundation for what was to become the Little Englander's pride and joy - the British Empire.

Mayle has been milking this source of income for a couple of decades. I remember trying to read A Year in Provence just after it came out and literally dropping it in the rubbish bin after a couple of chapters as it made such painful reading.

The subject - an Englishman setting up house in France and coping with the crafty money-grasping locals - has been covered much better by people like Dirk Bogarde, for example.*

I picked this up in a second-hand bookshop and hoped it might be an improvement.

What a fool I was - quel idiot! The sub-title "Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew" should have warned me.

The blurb says it is a "delightful (and delicious) account of the good life" and describes Mayle as "our inimitably charming guide".

In fact, it nothing more than a series of slight articles with cringing titles - Hors d'Oeuvre, Aiming Flying Corks in Burgundy, Love at First Sniff - that wouldn't even make the pages of an in-flight magazine.

*The TV series with John Hurt was even worse than the books with its excruciating dialogue - "But Armande, where are umm - ou sont - les truffles er umm - truffles?"
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