As a lover of all things French, I was happy to receive these books on my doorstep last week. One, a memoir of a life fulfilled dream featuring a move to Paris and running a culinary school, the other a guide to many restaurants, shops and even some recipes and travel tips to enjoy around Paris and to prepare you for your next visit.
One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France by Anne Willan with Amy Friedman
Founder of the world famous La Varenne Cooking School—originally located in Paris and then later in Burgundy, Ms. Willan has trained chefs, food writers and home cooks alike.
One Soufflé at a Time is the life story of Ms. Willan as well as the story of her interactions with some of the food-world’s best—including Julia Child, James Beard, and many others. She writes from her English girl roots in Yorkshire to her move to France, and how she overcame the male dominated world of French cuisine to start and run her own culinary school in the late 1970’s. Willan’s warm and funny personality shines through and shows a different, more approachable side of traditional French cuisine.
This lovely book, although mostly memoir also features fifty of Ms. Willan’s favorite recipes, from Coquille St. Jacques to Chocolate Snowballs and includes some of my favorites, Gratin Dauphinois and Pistou. You will often earmark pages to return to just so you can keep reading her narrative.
Ms. Willan shows her tremendous courage, her downfalls and her resounding strength all the while making this memoir truly fascinating, entertaining and authentic right from the first page. She has certainly led a life full of food and adventures and her unique and lively voice resonates through her writing style.
I quite enjoyed this book and I think you might too. Now I have to go back and cook some of the recipes I marked!
The Paris Gourment by Trish Deseine
This guide book will lead you from arrondissement to arrondissement where Ms. Deseine notes all of her favorite foodie spots in Paris. From restaurants, hotels, and bakeries to markets and even places to purchase kitchen wares, she shows the readers “her Paris” in this lively round up. This is a fun, lighthearted book featuring the characteristic Flammarion graphics- trendy, bold and colorful.
Although I think Ms. Deseine left out some major spots in her listings, (the Marché de la Bastille for instance only appears as a side note with a list of places open on Sunday and not at all in the section of Markets), I do think she covered a great deal and I know you can’t possibly list every wonderful place in Paris. There really are too many!
It’s certainly a pleasurable read and perfect for anyone visiting Paris for the first time or the tenth time. It’s chock full of tips and information, sure to make any food lover happy.
Disclosure: I received a copy of each of these books to review. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links to my Amazon Store. So if you buy the books, I’ll make a few pennies.