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Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love

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The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Su The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down. So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city.  Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths. Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.


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The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Su The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down. So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city.  Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths. Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.

30 review for Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Rating 2.5 Hmmm....I'll just say the title is misleading. I wanted to hear all about French food and just drool over the recipes. I wanted French bakeries, bread, and hear all the specific details of what the author ate. Instead it was more about the author moving to Paris with her husband for three years, but no sooner they arrived, he was transferred to Bagdad for his diplomat position. And she missed him, LOTS, she was lonely. The audio narration made it seem 'whiny' also. Anyway, this was a b Rating 2.5 Hmmm....I'll just say the title is misleading. I wanted to hear all about French food and just drool over the recipes. I wanted French bakeries, bread, and hear all the specific details of what the author ate. Instead it was more about the author moving to Paris with her husband for three years, but no sooner they arrived, he was transferred to Bagdad for his diplomat position. And she missed him, LOTS, she was lonely. The audio narration made it seem 'whiny' also. Anyway, this was a buddy read with Dana! We like to read book about food where we can compare what we want to make. Sorry to say, this just did not fit that bill for us.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Ann Mah ended up in Paris when her husband was placed there in a diplomatic role. During that time, he was sent to Baghdad on a year-long assignment, leaving her in Paris by herself. I wish that had been more of a back story than central to this book, because her complaints almost ruined this book for me. Mah is an aspiring publisher and journalist, and she writes extensively about missing her husband? I couldn't decide if she was including it to try to make her more human, more approachable, bu Ann Mah ended up in Paris when her husband was placed there in a diplomatic role. During that time, he was sent to Baghdad on a year-long assignment, leaving her in Paris by herself. I wish that had been more of a back story than central to this book, because her complaints almost ruined this book for me. Mah is an aspiring publisher and journalist, and she writes extensively about missing her husband? I couldn't decide if she was including it to try to make her more human, more approachable, but I really didn't want to read about it. I did want to read about the food. The food parts of the book were very well researched, fascinating, and she clearly has a talent for combining in-person experience with historical research. She made me want to be in Brittany for crêpes and attempting soupe au pistou amongst the grimaces of the older French women at the market. I would have traded the sections about talking to her husband in Skype for a nice chapter on croissants or breads, which only get mentioned in the context of her husband chomping into one. Call me a purist. One of the best books I've read lately about French food is The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese, a book where devoid of personal story, I was able as a reader to delve deeper into the topic of interest. That's my preference! I know some people really enjoy the Elizabeth Gilbert flavor of travel writing, and this would be a good book for people who really liked Eat, Pray, Love. I listened to the audio, read by Mozhan Marno. Mozhan does a great job pronouncing the French in the book (which there is a lot of, and sometimes not translated, the reader being left to read between the lines). She also does a decent French-accent-in-English to distinguish between Mah and the people she encounters. It brought the book to life. I received a copy of this from Random House Audio in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    I wanted this book to be good. I really did. The title is so catchy and who doesn't love France and it's wonderful cuisine? But it was, in fact, a disappointment. While I enjoyed the way the author travelled into the regions of France to report on the history and preparation of classic French dishes (cassoulet, anyone?), the sections of the book where she focusses on her life in Paris were disheartening. Yes, her husband was stationed in Baghdad and she had to spend a year in Paris... by herself. I wanted this book to be good. I really did. The title is so catchy and who doesn't love France and it's wonderful cuisine? But it was, in fact, a disappointment. While I enjoyed the way the author travelled into the regions of France to report on the history and preparation of classic French dishes (cassoulet, anyone?), the sections of the book where she focusses on her life in Paris were disheartening. Yes, her husband was stationed in Baghdad and she had to spend a year in Paris... by herself. Yes, I can see how she might be lonely, even a bit homesick. But .. it's Paris, one of the most magical cities in the world. A little more 'joie de vivre' and a little less feeling sorry for herself might have helped to raise this book above a two-star rating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    Ann Mah is an excellent food writer. Reading as she traveled through the regions and cuisines of France, I wanted so much of the food, so much of the time. Even took an afternoon to drive out w my kid here (in an area not renowned for any cuisine but seafood) in search of steak frites saignant: fortunately for me, we were entirely successful. Ms Mah's travels through France are also illuminating as to the culture, in addition to informative as to French food and drink. Where the book fell flat fo Ann Mah is an excellent food writer. Reading as she traveled through the regions and cuisines of France, I wanted so much of the food, so much of the time. Even took an afternoon to drive out w my kid here (in an area not renowned for any cuisine but seafood) in search of steak frites saignant: fortunately for me, we were entirely successful. Ms Mah's travels through France are also illuminating as to the culture, in addition to informative as to French food and drink. Where the book fell flat for me was when she talked about her personal life. She compares herself to Julia Child and Abigail Adams in the way she's separated from her husband and has to endure a nomadic lifestyle as he's in the diplomatic corps. I can empathize with that, but Ms Mah's attitude was primarily one of "oh, look at how awesomely I'm bearing up considering what a shitty situation I'm in." To which, ugh, stop. Being too lonely and sad to do some of your favorite things (which is not how one bears up awesomely) because you're in your favorite city while the love of your life is in a war zone but can still Skype with you daily (which, while tough, is not a shitty situation) is such a privileged attitude to take, that it's hard to feel any sympathy at all for her. And the comparisons with Child and Adams are especially annoying because a) Child had a much better attitude and coping mechanism, and b) Adams actually endured hardships beyond loneliness and culture shock. It got unwarrantedly whiny and self-congratulatory, especially towards the end, and I have little patience for that. I'd definitely read another food book of hers again, but will skip any more memoirs. I received this book gratis as part of ELLE Magazine's ELLE's Lettres Jurors' Prize program.

  5. 5 out of 5

    LillyBooks

    I'm torn a little about what to rate this book. It's book about living and working and shopping and cooking and eating in Paris, which is one of my favorite topics, so it it ought to be at least a four, right? And I gobbled it down, just like it was a four or five star strawberry tart with creme fraiche. It was light and breezy and even the cover art is that perfect shade of French green. But, thinking critically, did it really live up to say, Adam Gopnik's incandescent Paris to the Moon? No, of I'm torn a little about what to rate this book. It's book about living and working and shopping and cooking and eating in Paris, which is one of my favorite topics, so it it ought to be at least a four, right? And I gobbled it down, just like it was a four or five star strawberry tart with creme fraiche. It was light and breezy and even the cover art is that perfect shade of French green. But, thinking critically, did it really live up to say, Adam Gopnik's incandescent Paris to the Moon? No, of course not, not even close. Was it similar to Julia Child's My Life in France, to which Mah cannot stop comparing herself? Again, non. In fact, while I think this was a solid book and I may even read her novel about China, it wasn't anything special. Honestly, I felt she was a little whiney. I get that her husband was in Iraq for a year, and I'm sure that was awful; but you're living in a Belle Epoque apartment, working part time at the American Library, and writing a blog about living and eating in Paris, but all you can do is complaint about it? If that's hell, send me now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    2.5 stars Mastering the Art of French Eating was more about the author’s life with her husband than “French Eating”. I listened to most of this while lying in bed with the flu, hoping for some good comfort food, but it was lacking in comfort and coziness and left me feeling underfed and malnourished. I read this with my foodie buddy PorshaJo. We would have preferred less memoir and more food!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I was lucky enough to read an early copy of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING. It's fascinating and fun and eloquent, and so filled with love and heart. I'm neither a foodie nor a Francophile, but the book completely worked for me anyway! Brava, Ann Mah!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allison6876

    I'm giving this 3 stars for the vignettes regarding the dishes. These were very enjoyable. However the "poor me" whining about being lonely was extremely irritating and caused me to have an internal debate about finishing the book. Here's my rant: The "introspective" sections are written in the same self absorbed pretentious style as Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I'm sorry but she was living in Paris - a city where she's dreamed of living, she can Skype and email daily with her husband, s I'm giving this 3 stars for the vignettes regarding the dishes. These were very enjoyable. However the "poor me" whining about being lonely was extremely irritating and caused me to have an internal debate about finishing the book. Here's my rant: The "introspective" sections are written in the same self absorbed pretentious style as Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I'm sorry but she was living in Paris - a city where she's dreamed of living, she can Skype and email daily with her husband, she is in the financial position where she doesn't "need" to work but is doing something she really enjoys - wow, what a terrible life. Get some therapy, quit being so self-absorbed, be thankful for everything you have, get a hobby, don't wallow, volunteer, force yourself outside your comfort zone to meet new people, join a church, take a class - get some perspective these first world problems can be overcome. Loved the histories of the different dishes, the experiences of the dishes and people she met while researching the dishes were very entertaining. The story of making Soupe au Pistou was particularly charming.

  9. 5 out of 5

    MaryJane Brodeck

    If you are Francophile, traveler, foodie or gourmet, this book is for you. I've been to France many times, and after reading this book, I'm reading to fly there next week. Ann Mah's writing is smooth and enjoyable to read. Mastering The Art of French Eating is about a diplomat's wife who experiences the foods of France. Along the way, she makes some interesting discoveries about herself, as she is traveling alone, while her husband is on assignment in the Middle East. Throughout the book, Mah inc If you are Francophile, traveler, foodie or gourmet, this book is for you. I've been to France many times, and after reading this book, I'm reading to fly there next week. Ann Mah's writing is smooth and enjoyable to read. Mastering The Art of French Eating is about a diplomat's wife who experiences the foods of France. Along the way, she makes some interesting discoveries about herself, as she is traveling alone, while her husband is on assignment in the Middle East. Throughout the book, Mah includes pertinent history of the regions she is visiting, along with recipes of her favorite french dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. 5 stars all the way. ** I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Espinasse

    How could anyone be teary-eyed reading a delightful account of France and French cooking? Ann Mah's loving memoir touched this Francophile and French resident deeply! Ann managed to put to words what we who feel the magnet-pull of Paris cannot easily voice. Oh, if passions could speak! Meantime, we can so relate to Ann's sense of wonder and delight as she eloquently and warmly recounts her dream-come-true-come-bittersweet move to Paris via these culinary stories--seasoning them thoughtfully with How could anyone be teary-eyed reading a delightful account of France and French cooking? Ann Mah's loving memoir touched this Francophile and French resident deeply! Ann managed to put to words what we who feel the magnet-pull of Paris cannot easily voice. Oh, if passions could speak! Meantime, we can so relate to Ann's sense of wonder and delight as she eloquently and warmly recounts her dream-come-true-come-bittersweet move to Paris via these culinary stories--seasoning them thoughtfully with history, architecture, and interesting French customs. I learned so much about a country and a language that I've had a crush on for decades. And when I'd read the last line of Ann's book, I sighed.... Then happily flipped back to page one, pour recommencer!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Each chapter ends with a recipe. A couple I may attempt. Her travels around France, history of the foods/recipes, people she meets and learns from leaves me wanting to jump on a plane and head to France ASAP. Not only is the book enjoyable to read but I am learning some history of French cooking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    There are some books that capture you from the minute you open them and this was one of those books. I always felt hungry when reading it, which as my reading time is usually late at night wasn’t good, but that is about the only downside I found with it. It has also given me itchy feet (again) for this lovely country we live in, but where to head first? Alsace for Choucroute, Brittany for Crêpes, Castelnaudary for Cassoulet, or Provence for Soupe au Pistou are just some of the choices Ann gives There are some books that capture you from the minute you open them and this was one of those books. I always felt hungry when reading it, which as my reading time is usually late at night wasn’t good, but that is about the only downside I found with it. It has also given me itchy feet (again) for this lovely country we live in, but where to head first? Alsace for Choucroute, Brittany for Crêpes, Castelnaudary for Cassoulet, or Provence for Soupe au Pistou are just some of the choices Ann gives us, with each dish featuring in it’s own chapter. The book is a good mix of exploring the food in regional France, giving some great information and history (but not overdoing it) and letting us into the highs and lows of her life as she tries to settle in Paris. It should have been a happy time with a three-year Parisian placement for her and her diplomat husband to look forward to, but within the first months he is sent to Baghdad, leaving her alone in Paris. Reading her story was addictive, not just as I was keen to learn more about some of France’s classic dishes and how they evolved, but also because I enjoyed following her personal journey of coping with her new life that was turning out to be a lonely experience. As a wife in a foreign country, away from family and friends, whose husband regularly travels for work, I can understand only too well, some of the things she was feeling. It would be true to say the food of France saved her and it's certainly helped me too. Ann shares a lot in this book, her childhood, her life as a diplomat’s wife, her time alone in Paris and her knowledge about France and it’s lovely food. In the recipes her easy steps-to-success with some of France’s greatest regional dishes have given me the confidence to try them out myself – le vrai cassoulet here I come.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The title of this book hooked me. I travel to France semi-frequently and look for any book, movie, website, etc. which will help me understand French culture. The first 3-4 chapters did not disappoint as Mah traveled to various regions in France, explaining about that region's food heritage / food specialty and sharing recipe ideas. Sadly, after those first chapters, she really gets into talking about herself and how hard life is for her for the year that her husband has to travel for work (even The title of this book hooked me. I travel to France semi-frequently and look for any book, movie, website, etc. which will help me understand French culture. The first 3-4 chapters did not disappoint as Mah traveled to various regions in France, explaining about that region's food heritage / food specialty and sharing recipe ideas. Sadly, after those first chapters, she really gets into talking about herself and how hard life is for her for the year that her husband has to travel for work (even though he gets to visit her 3 times for 3 weeks each), how inadequate she feels as a non-native, how she can't sleep, how she doesn't really cook if her husband isn't around, blah, blah, blah. I really wanted her to just buck up, stop complaining, and tell us more about French food and culture. She never talks about restaurant culture, what a French menu is, how to order at a restaurant, or anything at all about tipping in France, which is always a big question for Americans. I do appreciate the recipes she shared at the end of each chapter. Although, in one instance she claimed it doesn't matter what wine you use in your sauce, but based on personal cooking experience, I disagree. She writes about famous Americans in France such as Julia Child and Thomas Jefferson and tries to insert herself in similar situations, seeming to imagine herself as a great historical figure. But these comparisons fall flat and her writing seems forced - almost as if she really didn't have anything to say but since she had a book contract and was under deadline she just wrote a bunch of stuff and somehow her editor accepted it. The title of the book is great! But the book does not deliver what you would expect. It feels more like a collection of personal blog posts than a comprehensive book about French eating.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Theobaldino

    Even as a Frenchman who loves his andouillette, cheese and garlicky snails, I've learnt so much reading this book. Ann Mah has carried out a serious investigation into the ``classic" French dishes, which is demonstrated by the amazing detail and her perfect description of French culture. In this book, the food is not a background afterthought, as it unfortunately is in so many books about France. Mastering the Art of French Eating explores the deep link between food and love in an artful way whi Even as a Frenchman who loves his andouillette, cheese and garlicky snails, I've learnt so much reading this book. Ann Mah has carried out a serious investigation into the ``classic" French dishes, which is demonstrated by the amazing detail and her perfect description of French culture. In this book, the food is not a background afterthought, as it unfortunately is in so many books about France. Mastering the Art of French Eating explores the deep link between food and love in an artful way which is sometimes moving and often witty and amusing (the "soupe au pistou" chapter is a piece of art in its own right!). And this is the strong point of this beautiful book: the storytelling is so wonderful, you almost don't want Ann's year alone in Paris to end and you end up wishing Calvin's Iraq assignment had been a little longer. En bon Français qui ne peut pas se passer d'andouillettes, de fromages ou d'escargot à l'ail, j'ai énormément appris en lisant ce livre. La précision des détails et la parfaite appréhension de la culture française prouve qu'Ann Mah a mené une enquête fouillée. La cuisine française n'est pas seulement un charmant décor dans ce livre, défaut constaté dans bien des livres sur la France. "Mastering the Art of french eating" explore habilement le lien profond entre amour et cuisine. C'est parfois émouvant, souvent drôle et bourré d'esprit (le chapitre sur la soupe au pistou est un modèle du genre !). C'est le point fort de ce merveilleux livre : Ann Mah raconte si bien son année solitaire à Paris qu'on finit par souhaiter que la mission de Calvin en Irak se prolonge un tout petit peu.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    Possibly the highest praise I can give is that I just bought a second copy to gift to a friend whose husband actually IS about to become a diplomat. Loved this book. So much of my love for it was how much I, as a navy wife, identified with the diplomat husband woes (loneliness; moving often; dreams of a home base; being his first priority in heart, but not always able to be in practice and presence). [I adore being a Naval officer's wife, and the adventures far outweigh the woes, so I'm definitel Possibly the highest praise I can give is that I just bought a second copy to gift to a friend whose husband actually IS about to become a diplomat. Loved this book. So much of my love for it was how much I, as a navy wife, identified with the diplomat husband woes (loneliness; moving often; dreams of a home base; being his first priority in heart, but not always able to be in practice and presence). [I adore being a Naval officer's wife, and the adventures far outweigh the woes, so I'm definitely not complaining, but those aches are there.] The author was also a beautiful writer, and of course, it's hard to go wrong with "French" and "eating" in the title.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marita

    Come on a culinary journey with Ann Mah, and enjoy famous as well as lesser-known dishes from different regions in France. Discover the origins of these meals, and see Ann's own interpretation of these recipes. Meet some interesting people. This memoir is a delightful exploration of French culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    I loved this book! It really made me want to return to Paris someday. I enjoyed the way Ann described the various dishes that she learned to make and that she included the recipes at the end of each chapter. If you plan to travel to France (or even just in your dreams), this book is for you!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Doris

    When the author stayed on the purported subject of French Eating, I enjoyed it. Alas, all too much of it was the author whining about how much she missed her husband and what a martyr she was to his career. If that marriage isn't already over, I'm amazed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yi-Hsuan

    One-starring this even though I didn't finish. To be honest, I couldn't get past even the first few chapters. This is not a book to follow Eric Ripert's memoir, so, silly me. It's so sappy already... stop talking about your amazing husband named "Calvin" and how you guys moved to Paris for his work, only to have him pulled away somewhere else for work, and boohoo, what ever shall you do in Paris by yourself?? like omg what a disaster of a city to be plunked down in solo, especially having always One-starring this even though I didn't finish. To be honest, I couldn't get past even the first few chapters. This is not a book to follow Eric Ripert's memoir, so, silly me. It's so sappy already... stop talking about your amazing husband named "Calvin" and how you guys moved to Paris for his work, only to have him pulled away somewhere else for work, and boohoo, what ever shall you do in Paris by yourself?? like omg what a disaster of a city to be plunked down in solo, especially having always had an obsession with France! I get it. It's an introduction, and she'll get to the food part later, but I have no desire to waste my time reading/waiting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maurynne Maxwell

    Anne Mah's food writing sings! This foodie memoir about France never falters when reminiscing about the food, Paris, people, and countryside of France. The personal memoir parts can be tentative, faltering, even at times whiny--reflective of the author's experience of a year spent alone in a new country without husband, friends, or family for emotional support and nurturing/nourishment. Her diplomat husband got a dream posting to Paris for a four-year stint, but then no sooner did they arrive an Anne Mah's food writing sings! This foodie memoir about France never falters when reminiscing about the food, Paris, people, and countryside of France. The personal memoir parts can be tentative, faltering, even at times whiny--reflective of the author's experience of a year spent alone in a new country without husband, friends, or family for emotional support and nurturing/nourishment. Her diplomat husband got a dream posting to Paris for a four-year stint, but then no sooner did they arrive and unpack, her husband was called to Baghdad for a year. What does a foodie do in this circumstance? Slowly but eagerly, start finding community through food. Food may be our homeland, but it is also how we discover and bond with the stranger. The book's chapters are arranged by 10 regions of France, with a representative dish--its history, the author's discovery of its terroir, its variations, and a recipe for the home cook. As the Anne Mah describes it, "...the link between history and place, culture and cuisine." Paris is itself a region and the author's home base. There are Troyes, Brittany, Lyon, Provence, Toulouse, Alsace, Burgundy, and Aveyron--not all of France--another book, I hope. Bistro steak, crepes, soupe au pistou--and seven more dishes to savor, to prepare or dream of preparing. The recipes are easy to follow, though some of them require many hours of preparation or cooking. What Ann Mah discovered in France was that, "Separate from cooking, the very art of eating is in itself an art to master." Not only savoring the food, but sharing connection and community in a country that mandates, in law and culture, time for the pleasure of dining. As Julia Child (with her own itinerant life and diplomat husband) would say, "Bon appetit," to foodies and Francophiles.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Redfern

    What a wonderful book! Ann Mah takes us on a veritable tour of France by the signature food item of each area in France. In each chapter she describes the food, the origins of the food and the modern life of the food item. Interspersed between food passages is the story of her life for one year in France while her diplomat husband was away in Baghdad, leaving her to fend for herself and develop a routine. I have never been interested in traveling to France but after reading this book and a couple What a wonderful book! Ann Mah takes us on a veritable tour of France by the signature food item of each area in France. In each chapter she describes the food, the origins of the food and the modern life of the food item. Interspersed between food passages is the story of her life for one year in France while her diplomat husband was away in Baghdad, leaving her to fend for herself and develop a routine. I have never been interested in traveling to France but after reading this book and a couple of other books with a French theme, I have changed my mind. When I read the descriptions of the people and the food I felt the pride and the joy that the various regions have in their particular contribution to the French food mystique. It made me want to go and see everything for myself. I’ll admit some of the food would never pass my lips but it would still be interesting to see the process. After each region, the recipe for the dish is included so we can attempt to re-create the magic. I’m not a gourmet chef but I can appreciate the unique qualities of each dish as described by Ms. Mah. I would imagine an experienced student of French cooking will enjoy the history and rituals of the food as well as the opportunity to cook a new version of a regional dish. I also enjoyed the personal stories about her family and her previous moves with her diplomat husband, Calvin. Their mutual love of all things French added to the enjoyment of the book for me. I would love to read more about their travels.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adele

    Reading Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah is like having a great conversation with a best friend. Let’s talk about our careers, marriage and love - it’s here. Let’s talk about our deepest hopes, longings, and regrets - it’s here. Let’s talk about our family and parents - it’s here. Let’s share some really great (doable) French recipes - it’s here. Ann mixes all these elements into a poignant conversation with her readers and introduces them to some delightful French citizens while of Reading Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah is like having a great conversation with a best friend. Let’s talk about our careers, marriage and love - it’s here. Let’s talk about our deepest hopes, longings, and regrets - it’s here. Let’s talk about our family and parents - it’s here. Let’s share some really great (doable) French recipes - it’s here. Ann mixes all these elements into a poignant conversation with her readers and introduces them to some delightful French citizens while offering fascinating snippets of French history and culture. For readers who have been to France this book offers a much needed return visit! For readers who know nothing about France, this book will get them started on a new love affair! The tenderness that leaps off these pages will make the reader hug this book when it is finished and wish the conversation with Ann would continue! This is a spectacular read on every level! Buy copies to give friends as gifts because you won’t want to let go of your own copy!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hilary Reyl

    Mastering the Art of French eating is a delicious blend of memoir, history, travelogue and vivid food writing. Ann Mah has a fantastic way with food description. She achieves a satisfying weave of the personal and the and the "informational." Each chapter focuses on a dish from a different region of France, detailing Ann's personal discovery of that food and then taking you to its region of origin. The depth of flavor is captivating! I don't want to give too much of Ann's own story away, but wil Mastering the Art of French eating is a delicious blend of memoir, history, travelogue and vivid food writing. Ann Mah has a fantastic way with food description. She achieves a satisfying weave of the personal and the and the "informational." Each chapter focuses on a dish from a different region of France, detailing Ann's personal discovery of that food and then taking you to its region of origin. The depth of flavor is captivating! I don't want to give too much of Ann's own story away, but will say that she is a marvelous and winning guide through French regional cuisine. And, as her title suggests, she feels both a kinship and a respect for Julia Child that infuses the whole book with wisdom and sweet gratitude for the pleasures of the table.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Overall, this was an entertaining, though not particularly novel, book. Mah, an American expat in Paris, discusses a different French food in each chapter. Often, she delves into the history behind the food, which, in my opinion, was very interesting. Mah also chronicles her time in Paris, focusing on getting used to the city, being an expat, and being alone (her husband ends up being dispatched to the Middle East for a year). Overall, th I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Overall, this was an entertaining, though not particularly novel, book. Mah, an American expat in Paris, discusses a different French food in each chapter. Often, she delves into the history behind the food, which, in my opinion, was very interesting. Mah also chronicles her time in Paris, focusing on getting used to the city, being an expat, and being alone (her husband ends up being dispatched to the Middle East for a year). Overall, this was a light and benign read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    It seems a little indolent to read a book about the pleasures of food in France from underneath an umbrella beside the Mediterranean, but alas. I loved every word of this book from the loneliness & worry as the author missed her husband who was far from Paris in Iraq to the sun soaked Provençal days to navigating Paris as an expat. I have just come back from the market and my counter in filled with all of the ingredients for a large pot of pistou.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I enjoyed this. Ann Mah's descriptions of the food made me so hungry and had me wishing I still lived in Europe. Good food was a big deal there and almost all the countries took such pride in their specialties. I say 'almost all' because some countries didn't have anything to brag about. Just sayin'. Living in Paris, her love of food was evident and nicely written. Her personal life was a bit of a distraction and a little repetitive. So 3 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    Rich exploration of expat life in Paris. Her reflections on building community, especially while apart from her husband, resonated with me and I loved seeing where her culinary whims led her as the book progressed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    serena

    Enjoyed the food bits, but the memoir parts were a slog. Mah's an annoying whiner. Skip this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Enjoyable read Quite a good book. I’ll admit I skimmed at times, but I enjoyed reading Mah’s story about her time in Paris. I especially enjoyed the Julia Child tie-ins, apartment hunting, and American Thanksgiving. I can’t say I’ll try many of the recipes, but that’s just me. Nice that she included so many, and who knows, maybe one day I will!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Keli

    This book is for any lovers of France or French food...Mah's writing is so beautiful, and I learned so much about the history of the country through its food. I'm also hungry now.

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