Books: Lunch in Paris – A Love Story, with Recipes

Cover of "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, w...
Cover via Amazon

by Elizabeth Bard

I LOVED this book!  And how perfect that I finished it late last night (an UNPUTDOWNABLE?) and today I can post a few words for Words and Peace’s “I Love France” meme!

Elizabeth Bard was an American living/working/studying in England when she saw a man at an academic conference and on the last day exchanged emails with him, which led to a flurry of flirty emails and eventually a weekend trip to Paris for a lunch date.  This book chronicles their life together – from this first date – and tells the story through food.

This book is quite like another book I love – Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” – which owns space on my cookbook shelf.  Early on in “Lunch in Paris,” (after I started dog-earing recipes that I wanted to try in chapter one, chapter two, etc.) I realized that I would be purchasing this book for the same reason.  Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes, Mamy Simone’s Tabouleh, Eggplant Stuffed with Quinoa, Lemon Sorbet and Vodka (inspired!)… the list goes on and on.  Some of the recipes look a little complicated but most simply enhance the flavors of whatever is being served (wild boar or haricot verts – I love haricot verts!).

Elizabeth Bard is able to simply and beautifully write about what it means to be an American living in France.  I don’t even know what else to say about that!  She writes eloquently about what it’s like to have parents in US who wonder what she’s getting herself into, cultural expectations of Americans and French, how cultural differences impact relationships and attitudes towards work and happiness.

It is an excellent little book filled with intelligent insights.  Adriana Trigiani (one of my favorite authors) has a blurb on the back that says “It’s Eat, Stay, Love with a side of spiced apricots.”  I thought about that as I read the book.  One of my pet peeves is when people set out to do something amazing with the sole intention of writing a book at the completion of the amazing feat.  It feels contrived and unnatural.  I felt that way about “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Happiness Project.”  I didn’t feel that way about this book at all.  And in the last chapter she writes about how the “cookbook” idea came to be – during a New Year’s Eve feast that lasted for eight hours.  Yes, they stopped eating at around 4AM.  Can you imagine?  Each hour a new course was brought out to be savored and enjoyed.

This book is a joy.  Savor it.

Off to read!