Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

′The chocolate centre flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the plate. The last ounce of stress drains from my body....I have discovered the French version of Death by Chocolate.′

Part love story, part wine-splattered cookbook, LUNCH IN PARIS is a deliciously tart, forthright and funny story of falling in love with a Frenchman and moving to the world′s most romantic city - not the Hollywood version, but the real Paris, a heady mix of blood sausage and irregular verbs.

From gutting her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen) and battling bad-tempered butchers to discovering heavenly chocolate shops, Elizabeth Bard finds that learning to cook and building a new life as a stranger in an even stranger land have a lot in common. Along the way she learns the true meaning of home - and the real reason French women don′t get fat ...

Peppered with recipes to die for, this mouth-watering love story is the perfect treat for any woman who has ever suspected that lunch in Paris could change her life.

Once upon a time I used to read a lot of books like this. A woman changes her life by moving to a new country, learns to cook and ends up having a fabulous life. It has however been years since I have done so, mainly because I realised that I was torturing myself because I did the moving countries thing, I didn't learn to cook all that well and I am still waiting for the fabulousness to arrive! (well, maybe that is being a bit overly dramatic, but you know what I mean).

I remember reading books like Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes and literally spending hours trawling the internet imagining exactly what I would do when I got to Tuscany. That was at least 8 or 9 years ago, and I still haven't left Australia again. Really the torturing myself is because I can't see a way where I will be able to go on holidays to somewhere exciting any time soon. This book made me want to spend hours googling pictures of Paris and France and wishing that I could go there now. I was already feeling that way after watching the Tour de France and participating in Paris in July - now the longing is almost palpable.

The full title of this book is Lunch in Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes and it is exactly as it advertises!

Elizabeth Bard is a young American woman living in London when she meets Gwendal, a Frenchman. Soon she finds herself travelling back and forward between London, New York and Paris until it comes time to make the move to Paris itself.

What follows in the book is a tale of how fantastic it can be to be discovering the Paris behind the tourist trails, but also the small, and some times, large trials that face Elizabeth as she tries to find her place in a very different culture to the one she is used to. The major obvious difference is the language, but there are also major differences in relation to work, ambition, lifestyle, about eating for pleasure rather than function and so much more! Another subject that received a fair amount of page time - how do French women stay thin and glamorous looking!

When I was living overseas I didn't have the issues around language that Elizabeth Bard did, but there were certainly cultural differences that some times were difficult to navigate, and there were definitely times, especially just after I came home again, when I didn't really feel like I belonged in either place anymore.

This book was so much fun to read, and oh my goodness, the food and the recipes had me licking my lips. It all sounded so fantastic!

There are so many recipes I want to try. Just for fun I am going to give the French names of a few of the recipes and you can give your best guesses as to what they are in the comments! I'll add the English names of the recipes after the weekend is over.

Parfaits au Yauort et aux Fruits Rouges

Gateua au Yaourt

Travers de Porc au Miel

Moulleuz au Chocolate "Kitu"

Financiers aux Framboises

Souris d'Agneau a l'Orange et a la Badiane

There are very few books that I read from the library that I wish I owned, but this is definitely one of them. I think I might buy it some time soon. Actually, having just spent a little time going through and looking for recipes I might like to try, I think I am definitely going to have to buy this book as I am up to page 105 and I already have a list more than 10 recipes long. It almost feels like I could possibly do some French cooking! How exciting.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Paris in July is a month long event hosted by Karen from Book Bath and Tamara from Thyme for Tea, which invites the participants to celebrate all things French!


  1. Lunch in Paris is a book I would luv to read. Enjoyed your review. So it's not all romance and quaint places and wonderful food...There are adjustments too. Luv the title.

  2. Oh yum, those recipes sound delicious. Unfortnately there's always yuk-things (for want of a better word) when you move, no matter how close or how far away.

  3. This is, of course, on my list -- I know what some of the recipes are without looking them up but I'm not sure what "Kitu" means and I don't recognize "a la Badiane" and I'm only kind of sure about Finaciers -- off to look them up.

  4. Okay. I did know what Finaciers are and learned what badiane is and kitu. Nice to learn new menu words.

  5. I can only guess at an occasional word in your French quiz! This could be a good follow-up for My Life in France by Julia Child that I read for Bastille Day. Or, maybe, I'll save it for next year's Bastille Day.

  6. It sounds like an enjoyable book :) Paris is only like a 5 hours drive from here, still the place feels very alien to me. I do not speak a word French and I only went there to visit Disneyworld ;) Still I would love to go sometime for a longer period than 3 days to check out some good food shops :)

  7. Oh, I can totally get why these types of books could make you feel a little melancholy. I sometimes have that feeling when I read books about people starting over in small cabins in the woods or mountains, and then I wish that I could sell all my stuff and move closer to nature as well. Despite the fact that this book had given you a serious longing to move to Paris, I think it sounds excellent and like something that I would really like to read. You highlighted it wonderfully in your post, so thank you!

  8. An excellent recommendation is when someone reads a book from the library and then wants to buy it. That tells me how good the book is. So glad you enjoyed it so much.

  9. Sounds like a great book to me! I can guess that the Financiers are a cookie with raspberries? They all sound delicious in French :)

  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this book enough to want to purchase it. Now I am off to figure out what the recipes are. I'm very curious.

  11. I have a feeling that all these sorts of books do usually put the best spin on things. I think Peter Mayle had to move since so many readers found him, and it seems like I read that Frances Mayes doesn't stay in that lovely house that much. I also read -but don't quote me- that there is an anorexia problem among some of those French women. There are a lot of people who view your home as Paradise!

  12. I never get tired of reading these kinds of books; the only bad thing about this one for me may be that it will only make me want to go to Paris more, and I don't see that happening any time soon!

  13. I loved this book. I agree the recipe made me hungry!

  14. It is wonderful to read a book from the library and love it so much that you want to purchase it.

    Such a good and true feeling!

    Googling images of Paris is one way to escape!

  15. Peaceful reader, it's the only way I can escape at the moment.

    Linda, I definitely was looking at the recipes longingly.

    Bookgirl, I don't see it happening for me anytime soon either.

    Nan, I guess you get used to what you see every day!

    Beth, I will put the translations up in a day or so.

    Carol, you are pretty much right, although I thought they were little cakes.

    Thanks Margot. It was a fun read.

    Zibilee, what is that saying about grass always being greener on the other side?

    Uniflame, sounds like an ideal destination for a long weekend seeing as it is that close.

    Joy, I haven't read any Julia Child yet.

    Beth F, I am pretty sure you will really enjoy this book.

    Pam, there is another cover kicking around for it. They are different but good!

    Sam, I think the most important lesson I have learned by moving countries and states, is that the one thing that you always take with you is yourself, and that means you always take your issues with you!

    Tea, definitely adjustments.

  16. just thinking about it is delightful! sounds like a deliciously transporting read.

  17. So glad you enjoyed the book! If you try the recipes - definitely post a photo or two to - so often, readers versions of the recipes look even better than my own! Merci et bon appetit...EB

  18. I still torture myself!! I want to live in Tuscany, Paris, and even Australia!!!

  19. I can't wait to see the actual names of these recipes, but I loved your post.

  20. Col, I have just posted the translations!

    Staci, me too. Oh, wait. I do live in Australia *wink*

    Sheila, it was worth a read, and I heard that it got mentioned on NPR recently as one of five food memoirs to read this summer, so that is another recommendation.

    Elizabeth (Lunch in Paris), thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, and thanks for writing such an excellent book. I was drooling all over your blog the other day too!

    Bookspersonally, a deliciously transporting read is a perfect description for this book!

  21. I'm so glad you liked this! It was one of my favourite books I read in 2010. Like you, I originally borrowed it from the library, but I loved it so much that I ended up buying my own copy. The recipes I've tried so far have been great - the financiers are particularly wonderful!

  22. The financiers sound really good to me, but my son has an allergy so not sure I will be able to make them. Might have to wait for him to go away for the weekend or something.