Remembrance of things Paris : sixty years of writing from Gourmet

by Ruth Reichl

Paper Book, 2004




New York : Modern Library, 2004.


For sixty years the best food writers have been sending dispatches from Paris to Gourmet. At once unique and universal, these essays by Joseph Wechsberg, Naomi Barry, and Diane Johnson, among others, present tantalizing glimpses of culinary life in the world capital of love and food.From unforgettable vignettes of resourceful chefs feeding hungry Parisians after World War II to the birth and rise of nouvelle cuisine - it's all here- the old-time bourgeois dinners, the tastemakers, the hero-chefs, and, of course, Paris in all its charm, arrogance, and splendid refinement.

User reviews

LibraryThing member etxgardener
I love France and I love food. So what can be better than a book devoted to both. This book is a collection of essays written over the past sixty years for Gourmet magazine and so many are a delight. A person has to be soulless not to be charmed by "The Christening" in which a Parisian mother brings the plans for the party to celebrate her child's entry into the church to the hospital with her as she is about to deliver her baby and one cannot help to sigh over "Paris's Haute Chocolaterie." And then there is the sensation of being born too late when one reads "After the War" written in 1947 when the author bemoans the fact that the average check a Maxim's is an outrageous $16.00 and that a meal in an average bistro has "increased tenfold" - to $1.00 (!!).

In our hard economic times when travel - well, at least my travel - has become extremely limited, a book like this one is a delicious bon bon to be consumed in little bites to savor over the days, or to be gorged upon in one big gulp.
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LibraryThing member bostonian71
I always enjoy reading about France, though I must admit this collection wasn't as fun the second time around. The assortment seems heavily weighted toward tales of France's past culinary glories, skipping past a couple of decades on its way to the present day, and I would've preferred fewer pieces but longer ones as well as more variety in the authors anthologized (even though I recognize how good Joseph Wechsberg's writing is). Still, it was fun to imagine the places talked about, and it's always good to get a little French into my brain before going to Paris.… (more)
LibraryThing member Anne_Green
How could a Francophile food writer not be intrigued by a collection of sixty years of food writing about Paris? I looked forward to reading this book with keen anticipation and on the whole it didn't disappoint. Compiled by Ruth Reichl, for many years the editor in chief in Gourmet Magazine, it's an anthology of dispatches to Gourmet Magazine from various columnists based in Paris. It covers a period of sixty years, spanning the years immediately post World War 2 to the early 2000s. As Ruth Reichl states in the introduction, there were several decades when Paris was "a shrine for everyone who believed that eating well was the best revenge" and it's the best of those years that are represented in this book.

Once Paris emerged from the doldrums of the war years and their associated privations, it didn't take long for it to reassert its rightful position at the pinnacle of the gourmet world and the essays in this book are a testament to that Paris and the magic it conjured. Several writers tend to predominate, obviously because they were correspondents for larger chunks of time and the book reflects the writing style of those writers pretty much to the exclusion of the others. In particular, essays by Naomi Barry and Joseph Wechsberg are gems of history and fascinating insights into a world that has largely been displaced by more recent developments. It's a reminder of a Paris we all probably still think of in a nostalgic mood, even while acknowledging that it's a world that belongs to yesterday.
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