Lunch in Paris-A Love Story, with Recipes
The title was engaging, the cover illustration, warm and inviting. I bought Lunch in Paris not in the travel section of my local bookstore but rather in the food and cookbook section and since I normally don’t browse for literature there, oh what a find!
Lunch in Paris is Bard’s memoir of her initial couple of years living in Paris, shortly after her first date with her French husband Gwendal. At the time she meets him, she is living in London, where she is discouraged over the amount of rejections she gets on the job front and is having a hard time eeking out a living with the limited amount of free lance writing offers that come her way. She and Gwendal immediately get on (so well in fact that the first line of the book is “I slept with my French husband halfway through our first date”) and soon Bard is spending the weekends in Paris, hopping on the famous Eurostar train at St. Pancras station in London and getting off at Gare du Nord in Paris, until eventually she moves there for good.
In Paris Bard realizes just how different life is in the City of Light. When Gwendal tells her that he’s put her name on the gas bill, she thinks, “okay…” But as Gwendal informs her, “In France if you don’t have a gas bill, you don’t exist.” Although she’s forced to contend with feelings of loneliness, language barriers, and cultural differences, Bard takes it all in stride through the art of French food and cooking. Although she was never much of a cook or foodie prior to moving to Paris, there she becomes one. I think anyone would become one if they lived in a city with such famous outdoor markets, such fresh ingredients, and such crisp baguettes at the local boulangerie. The more Bard becomes integrated in French cuisine, the more France’s nuances become clearer to her, less abstract and foreign.
As the title denotes, Lunch in Paris contains a couple of recipes at the end of each chapter (all the more reason to buy the book, free recipes!). They range from the well known Coquilles Saint-Jacques au Champagne (Scallops with Champagne Custard) and ratatouille to North African dishes like tabouleh and tagine (Gwendal’s grandmother grew up in Morocco), and finally to classic favorites from Bard’s family and friends in the States. I have yet to try out the recipes (for no other reason than the book was buried on my bookshelf for some time) but they look simple and delicious.
Besides the recipes, Lunch in Paris is undoubtedly a book I’ll return to read sometime in the future and perhaps even again after that.