New Yorker staff writer A.J. Liebling recalls his Parisian apprenticeship in the fine art of eating in this charming memoir,Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris. "There would come a time when, if I had compared my life to a cake, the sojourns in Paris would have presented the chocolate filling. The intervening layers were plain sponge." In his nostalgic review of his Rabelaisian initiation into life's finer pleasures, Liebling celebrates the richness and variety of French food, fondly recalling great meals and memorable wines. He writes with awe and a touch of envy of his friend and mentor Yves Mirande, "one of the last great gastronomes of France," who would dispatch a lunch of "raw Bayonne ham and fresh figs, a hot sausage in crust, spindles of filleted pike in a rich rosesauce Nantua, a leg of lamb larded with anchovies, artichokes on a pedestal of foie gras, and four or five kinds of cheese, with a good bottle of Bordeaux and one of Champagne"--all before beginning to contemplate dinner. In A.J. Liebling, a great writer and a great eater became one, for he offers readers a rare and bountiful feast in this delectable book. With an introduction by James Salter, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author ofA Sport and a Pastime
Having blackmailed his father into funding a year in Europe – and having spent his first year’s allowance before he even left! – Liebling actually spent his second adequate monthly released funding studying ”feeding”.
Despite a reputation based on his New Yorker columns on life, boxing and mankind’s foibles it is his writing on food and ‘feeding’ for which he is mostly acclaimed. His editor decried his claims to be a gourmet, and (as was explained by my own ‘feeding’ French mentor many years after his adventures) he was assured that he was actually a gourmand. Our matching shapes at the same stages of maturity confirm this more apt definition!
Wonderfully witty but actually very astute writing on restaurants, food and wine demonstrate this author’s ability to ensnare the reader in his works. Almost weeping for my ‘long lost’ Paris at the end – sated and stuffed – I put aside this greedy ‘foodies’ pornography with reluctant glee.