Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lunch in Paris

by Elizabeth Bard
Back Bay Books     2010
326 pages     Memoir

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is subtitled "A Love Story with Recipes." And that is what it is—a cross cultural love story with absolutely delicious recipes. I had two strikes against me when I began Lunch in Paris for our September book group: I had already read Bard's second memoir, Picnic in Provence, so I pretty much already knew the story; and I had just finished the very quirky and delightful, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a novel with recipes. 

At the same time, I found Lunch in Paris to be delightful, most especially because of Bard's unique voice. She is a strong, independent American woman finding her way around Paris culture; a culture much different than she anticipated. Gwendal, the boyfriend, is a delightful PhD with aspirations to make movies. The reader has extremely warm feelings toward him; he is adaptable and loving. 

Bard is adaptable as well. Although acclimatizing herself to Paris culture is daunting, she manages quite well. And ahhh the recipes. At book club, our hostess made a heavy yogurt cake with canned apricots which was delicious. I made a summer ratatouille that we enjoyed a lot. Then, today, as i was looking over the book one more time, I found a couple of delightful recipes to use the lamb that my Saudi student butchered for Eid last week and shared with me.

This is a "nice" read. It isn't heavy, too romantic, or too Parisian. The women in my book club really enjoyed it. Our hostess is planning a Paris vacation next summer, and most of us have been to Paris at least once. We spent a lot of time discussing the challenges of living in a different culture. But frankly, I enjoyed Picnic in Provence more—not sure why. The reviewer in Kirkus says the book starts out vanilla, "but the author's charming narrative and penetrating insights quickly add a subtle complexity that will captivate readers." 

The Kirkus review.
Elizabeth Bard's website.

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