- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew Hardcover – 8 May 2001
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Peter Mayle has done it again--but differently. Travelling this time beyond his adopted Provence throughout France, the food and travel writer has produced French Lessons, a celebration of many of that country's gastronomic joys. Whether pursuing La Foire de Fromages, the annual cheese fair at Livarot; a Burgundian marathon offering runners Médoc refreshment; or a village truffle mass that concludes with a heady dégustation of the newly blessed tuber, Mayle takes his readers in hand and shows all. Wide-eyed yet knowing, ever affable but with a touch of mischief, he's an ideal companion, the best possible narrator of his lively food adventures.
Author of the bestselling A Year in Provence, Mayle's gastronomic baptism occurs when, as a 19-year-old, he dines for the first time in France. "At the first mouthful of French bread and French butter," he writes, "my taste buds, dormant until then, went into spasm." The paroxysm leads to serious food-and-wine perambulations--and, finally, to chapters including "The Thigh-Taster of Vitel" (a frog-eating fete); "Slow Food" (snail love in Martigny les Bains) and "The Guided Stomach" (an investigation of the Michelin Guide restaurant inspection), among others. Readers are also present for a debate on the secret of the perfect omelette; a search for the best possible chicken in Bourg-en-Bresse; and a visit to a St. Tropez restaurant notable for its scantily clad habitués. Those familiar with Mayle's work, and those yet to discover it, are in for a treat. --Arthur Boehm
The author offers a culinary tour of France in search of the perfect country bistro, village market, omelette, and bottle of wine.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
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?"
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?