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A Feast Of Foody Anecdotes
on 27 June 2002
After a brief detour into the realm of fiction Peter Mayle here returns to what he does best: selling the French and their many humorous mannerisms to us Francophobic Brits! Bon Appetit acts as a tour guide to the regional culinary peculiarities that is France; from the annual truffle Mass at Richerenches near Orange to the ultimate in detoxes at Michel Guerard's spa at Eugenie-les-Bains this is a book which should not be read with an empty stomach. Mayle's histrionic prose is liberally seasoned with descriptions of frog's leg and Bresse chicken, truffle omelette and Burgundian bender - this being a festival known as "les Trois Glorieuses" and a cutely French excuse for grown men to dress up in robes and hats and drink copiously for three days. In England we would call it a lads' weekend in Blackpool!
Bon Appetit does not pretend to be an exhaustive guide to all things French and food-oriented but it does present us with a candid snapshot of a nation enjoying its culinary riches; in every chapter there seem to be colourful locals who are prepared to humour this naive Englishman and explain in painstaking detail why it is not recommended to eat wild snails or how to be a champion cheese eater. Mayle, like Paul Theroux, seems to attach himself magnetically to these characters and, at times, it becomes a little tiresome, cliched almost when another friendly local clears his throat in an attempt to educate our author. That said, Bon Appetit is a slickly written and informative introduction to the pros and cons of French cuisine. It will make you laugh, it will make you salivate and it will make you look twice at those little shelled molluscs that seem intent on devouring your entire garden every night. Good eating!