The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time
"Excellent ingredients, carefully prepared and very elegantly served. A really tasty book."—Peter Mayle, author of The Marseille Caper and A Year in Provence
When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Lights is turned upside down.
So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.
Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.
I had this book on my iPad for a long time. I had started reading it and then wandered off as I so often do. However, I realized I had this while on my recent riverboat cruise in France, so I decided it was the perfect time to dust it off and finish it up.
I was actually on the outskirts of Lyon when I picked the book back up just in time for the chapter on Lyon. Lyon is known as gastronomic hot spot in France. Their claim to fame are small restaurants that were started by women catering to working class people. They are called “bouchons”. They still exist and are considered some of the best places to eat. I appreciate this book for explaining that they still feature tripe heavily in their meals. Vegetarian-friendly is not a concept most of these have grasped. A few days later I was standing in old town Lyon turning in a circle looking at all the bouchons.
Whispering to the husband – “We aren’t eating anywhere that says bouchon.”
Him – “Why?”
Me, muttering like just saying the word would manifest it in front of me – “Tripe”
Him – “What?””
Me – “It is sort of like restaurants who claim they are Family Restaurants in the U.S.”
He understood my theory that any restaurant that claims that title is using recipes from some old lady who cooked meat and potatoes without any spices and believed that the way to cook vegetables is to boil them until they give up. Also, the soups are totally made with meat broth and if you order vegetable soup anyway odds are 50/50 that there will be unexpected chunks of meat in it. Yes, I am a vegetarian foodie snob.
I would recommend this book for anyone who likes reading about local food traditions in combination with a memoir. She decides to write this book to distract her from the fact that she’s been left in France alone for a year. They just moved there. She knows no one. You see her personal growth over the year as she reaches out of her comfort zone to make friends.
So what did we eat in France? Stay tuned for that post in a bit.
A fun and irreverent take on vegan comfort food that's saucy, sweet, sassy, and most definitely deep-fried, from YouTube sensation Lauren Toyota of Hot for Food.
In this bold collection of more than 100 recipes, the world of comfort food and vegan cooking collide as Lauren Toyota shares her favorite recipes and creative ways to make Philly cheesesteak, fried chicken, and mac 'n' cheese, all with simple vegan ingredients. Never one to hold back, Lauren piles plates high with cheese sauce, ranch, bacon, and barbecue sauce, all while sharing personal stories and tips in her engaging and hilarious voice. The result is indulgent, craveworthy food - like Southern Fried Cauliflower, The Best Vegan Ramen, and Raspberry Funfetti Pop Tarts - made for sharing with friends at weeknight dinners, weekend brunches, and beyond.
This would be a great cookbook for people who want to move to a vegetarian or vegan diet but are hung up on all the foods that they won’t be able to have anymore if they give up meat. The book starts with several pages of recipes devoted to making substitutes for bacon from several different vegetables. It moves onto using cauliflower as a base for vegan fried chicken. A lot of the book concentrates on making vegan versions of meat-based favorites.
I don’t really have any comfort foods that contained meat. I don’t like fried foods. A lot of the recipes in this book don’t appeal to me for those reasons. Others are familiar to people who have been vegetarian for a long time.
What did appeal to me as a long time vegetarian was her section on sauces. She has a very simple vegan mayo recipe (Why does prepared vegan mayo cost a fortune?) and then uses it as a base for several dressings, including my favorite, Thousand Island. I’m definitely going to try that when my current bottle of dressing runs out. She also has basic recipes for cake and frosting and then shows multiple flavor variations. If I baked much, I’d be all over that.
I am going to make the cover recipe this week. It is a buffalo style baked cauliflower sandwich. I’m going to make the cauliflower in slices and combine it with salad fixings for dinner.
This book also has the most delightfully insane recipe I think I’ve ever seen. It is for a double decker veggie burger topped with both Thousand Island and BBQ sauce (yum) but then, then, the buns are made out of ramen noodles. Why are the buns made out of ramen noodles? Because you can.
I love everything in that recipe. Sure, I’ve only had them separately but what could go wrong? I’m a bit concerned about the ability to fit it in my mouth so I would make a single burger. You know, it’s healthier that way. I even bought some ring molds to make the buns. It will happen someday. In the meantime, Thousand Island and BBQ may be my go to burger dressing.
Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she’d lived for more than a decade. Who really invented the noodle? she wondered, like many before her. But also: How had food and culture moved along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking Asia to Europe—and what could still be felt of those long-ago migrations?
The journey takes Lin-Liu into the private kitchens where the headscarves come off and women not only knead and simmer but also confess and confide. The thin rounds of dough stuffed with meat that are dumplings in Beijing evolve into manti in Turkey—their tiny size the measure of a bride’s worth—and end as tortellini in Italy. And as she stirs and samples, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen.
A travel book about noodles? I had to read this book as soon as I heard of it. Add in the fact that in 2017 I’m trying to read more Asian authors and books set in Central Asia and this book was perfect for me. It took me forever to read it though. I think I found this book so soothing that I would fall asleep after a few pages. It wasn’t boring. It just relaxed me.
The author is a Chinese-American journalist who lives in Beijing with her white American husband. She owns a cooking school. While most people in the west think of rice when they think of staple dishes of China, noodles are more common in the cuisine of northern China. She decides to follow the path of the Silk Road to see how noodles spread between China and Italy. Who invented them?
First of all, the old story about Marco Polo discovering noodles in Asia and bringing them to Italy is not true. The true history of noodles turns out to be very difficult to figure out. The author travels from China through central Asia and into Iran and Turkey interviewing chefs and home cooks. She is taught to cook dishes that amaze her and dishes that she learns to dread like plov, a central Asian rice dish that she was fed at every meal. I thought plov sounded really good if you left out all the dead animal parts that she kept being served. For a book that was supposed to be about noodles, it was very heavy on the meat. She had sheep killed in her honor and a lot of time was spent sourcing and waxing poetic over pork in Muslim countries.
There is also a lot of discussion about relationships and the role of women in society. At the time she started this trip, the author was recently married and was considering whether or not to have children. She is very conflicted about what her role should be in her marriage. Both she and her husband travel for work. Can they keep doing that? Should they stay in China? Does being married automatically mean giving up her independence? She spends part of the trip traveling alone and part of it with her husband. She talks to women as they cook about what their relationships are like. She realizes that her love of homemade noodles means that someone has to spend all that time making them. Younger women with jobs outside the house tend not to learn those skills.
This book does have many recipes if you would like to try making different types of noodles and dishes featuring noodles. It even has recipes for plov. It won’t give you the answer though to where the noodle originated. That answer is lost in time.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
From the duo behind New York Times bestseller, Thug Kitchen, comes the next installment of kick-ass recipes with a side of attitude. Thug KitchenParty Grub Guide answers the question that Matt and Michelle have heard most from their fans: How the hell are you supposed to eat healthy when you hang around with a bunch of a**holes who don't care what they put in their pie holes? The answer: You make a bomb-ass plant-based dish from Thug Kitchen. Featuring over 100 recipes to attend or host parties of any kind, Party Grub Guide combines exciting, healthy, vegan food with easy-to-follow directions and damn entertaining commentary. From passed appetizers like Deviled Chickpea Bites to main events like Mexican Lasagna, Thug Kitchen Party Grub Guide is here to make sure you are equipped with dishes to bring the flavor without the side of fat, calories, and guilt. Also included are cocktail recipes, because sometimes these parties need a pick-me-up of the liquid variety.
I love my Thug Kitchen cookbook so I was really excited to see that they had a second cookbook out. I got it from the library first and then bought my own copy. My husband was concerned about this. He rightly pointed out that I am not in fact a “social mother-f*cker”. I told him that I liked to make the recipes for myself and maybe I’d share with him. He went off muttering about me being the exact opposite of what the book was for.
I keep pushing back posting this review because I keep making more recipes from this book that I love!
I’ve made the Butternut Squash Queso-ish Dip. No one is going to actually think this is cheese based but it is a nice creamy sauce that I like to put on pasta along with some salsa. Good way to sneak some extra squash into your diet too!
I’m excited about the Artichoke Dip and the Rosemary Caramel Corn. The dip was slightly disturbing to look at but tasted great, especially mixed with some salsa. The caramel for the caramel corn didn’t melt for me as nicely as it was supposed to but it still tasted pretty good.
The Meatball Subs made with kidney beans and lentils were a hit with the omnivorous husband. Definitely making those again.
The Creamy White Bean sandwich spread is good for a vegan who wants something on a sandwich but can’t have hummus because of food allergy concerns.
Everything I’ve made out of these cookbooks have been great so far. If you have any interest in food made with healthy ingredients even if you aren’t normally eating a vegan diet, you should check these out. The emphasis is on people who don’t cook often so the basics are explained.
While growing up in Versailles, an Indiana farm community, Linda Furiya tried to balance the outside world of Midwestern America with the Japanese traditions of her home life. As the only Asian family in a tiny township, Furiya's life revolved around Japanese food and the extraordinary lengths her parents went to in order to gather the ingredients needed to prepare it. As immigrants, her parents approached the challenges of living in America, and maintaining their Japanese diets, with optimism and gusto. Furiva, meanwhile, was acutely aware of how food set her apart from her peers: She spent her first day of school hiding in the girls' restroom, examining her rice balls and chopsticks, and longing for a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. Bento Box in the Heartland is an insightful and reflective coming-of-age tale. Beautifully written, each chapter is accompanied by a family recipe of mouth-watering Japanese comfort food.
Linda Furiya grew up in rural Indiana, far away from the traditional Japanese culture that her parents tried hard to emulate. She didn’t understand why her lunches were different than other kids’. She was embarrassed to hear her parents trying to talk to people in public, especially when other people didn’t make an effort to understand them. She didn’t want to invite people over to her house because it was so different than other peoples’.
Her parents had amazing life stories that she didn’t appreciate until she was much older. Her father was a U.S. citizen who went back to Japan as a child. He was then sent away as an indentured servant. He ended up as a Russian translator in the Japanese army during World War II. He came back to the United States and worked in the poultry farming industry because it was the only work he could get.
Her mother was the daughter of rice merchants in Tokyo. Her mother died and her father remarried and had other children. This dropped her status in the family to that of a servant. After the war, she lived on her own and had a job but gave it up to marry a stranger who lived the United States.
Her parents longed to have familiar Japanese food but couldn’t find it in Indiana. They made monthly trips to stores in Cincinnati or Chicago to find the ingredients they needed or had things shipped from Japan. Japanese comfort food became a common link between people who were very different but only had each other to rely on.
The author tells the story of growing up as the child of immigrants through the food that they loved. Each chapter ends with a recipe. Most of them are heavy on the meat so I won’t be trying them but there is one recipe for Rice Balls that sounds good. There is also a dessert recipe using agar agar instead of gelatin to make a Jello-like dish that I’d like to try since gelatin is made from animals and agar agar is from algae.
The author doesn’t shy away from talking about how she treated her parents horribly for being Japanese. It wasn’t until after college that she lived in a city with a large Asian population and understood that being Asian wasn’t automatically a bad thing. This book is a great look into the immigrant experience through the eyes of a child.
About Linda Furiya
Furiya grew up in rural Indiana, where her Japanese family went to great lengths to acquire traditional Asian ingredients. She became a journalist and food writer; Bento Box In The Heartland, her memoir of growing up in the Midwest, is her first book. She lives in Vermont.