This book is not about learning to speak French – it teaches us ABOUT the French. Author Peter Mayle is a Brit who moved with his wife and two dogs to the South of France. Ranging far from his adopted Provence, Mayle travels to every corner of the country to experience the pleasures of French dining.
Dining is a social event in France and is explained in infinite detail. Each chapter is devoted to dining and wine tasting experiences.
The participants in the Marathon du Medoc run through the great vineyards of Bordeaux while refreshing themselves en route with tastings of red wine (including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild!)
There is a memorable bouillabaisse in a beachside restaurant on the Cote Azur.
There is a Catholic mass in the village of Richerenches, a sacred event at which thanks is given to the mysterious and frightfully expensive black truffle.
There is a chapter devoted to the most pungent cheese in France (It’s in Normandy). Witness a debate over the perfect omelet.
The homage to exceptional chicken takes us to a fair in Bourg-en-Bresse.
Read about the largest and most delicious croissants, and more than you thought you wanted to know about escargot.
One highlight for me was learning about the history of the Michelin Guide. It began in 1900 and listed hotels only. Also included is the story of the 100 year old Hotel d’Europe in Avignon. Read about Madame Pierron and 3-star Michelin chef Paul Bocuse.
According to Mayle, no Frenchman or woman would ever complain about an excess of furniture, too much crystal or too may waiters! A little pomp is necessary, food is crucial and so are the surroundings. “Success in the kitchen must be reflected by the trappings of success in the dining room”.
The Other Thing – If you are Vegan, this book is not for you. But if you are a foodie and/or a wine connoisseur on some level, you will love “French Lessons”!!