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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. Sud 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 Lights 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. Sud 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 Lights 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: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris

  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. 5 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. 4 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!

  6. 4 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.

  7. 5 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!! 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

    Bkwmlee

    I will admit that I was a bit torn over how best to rate this book, as I usually go into memoirs with an entirely different set of expectations than I do novels and it can be a “hit and miss” whether I’m actually able to connect with the author’s story or not. When I first started this book, I was really into it, especially the first few chapters, as I felt there was a good balance between musings about food and the history of various dishes that the author Ann Mah had tried during her time in F I will admit that I was a bit torn over how best to rate this book, as I usually go into memoirs with an entirely different set of expectations than I do novels and it can be a “hit and miss” whether I’m actually able to connect with the author’s story or not. When I first started this book, I was really into it, especially the first few chapters, as I felt there was a good balance between musings about food and the history of various dishes that the author Ann Mah had tried during her time in France, and the culture clash with her background as a Chinese-American wife of a diplomat whose job requires them to move constantly from one country to another. The parts I enjoyed most were when Mah talked about her childhood as the daughter of immigrants growing up in the U.S. juxtaposed with her “fish out of water” experiences later on adjusting to a life of having to move to a new place every couple of years and having to learn its language, culture, cuisine, etc. each time. I found the segments where Mah describes her “adventures” traveling to different parts of France to learn about various dishes and their history quite interesting, engaging, and a bit whimsical too. With that said though, the tone of the book seemed to change after Mah’s husband Calvin left for Baghdad, where he was stationed for a year, with her having to remain behind in Paris until he returned (though he was able to fly back and visit her every couple of months). The tone seemed to shift to a more wistful one, where it felt like Mah’s spirits were permanently dampened by the long separation from her husband and nothing could lift them again until he returned. The second half of the memoir felt like it focused a little too much on Mah’s loneliness and how much she missed her husband, to the point that it seemed the earlier enthusiasm she had in discovering the whimsies and delights of a country (France) that she had been dreaming about living in since childhood, was no longer there. This ended up detracting from the story a bit, at least for me. The writing also didn’t flow as well as I would’ve liked, as some sections seemed to be all over the place chronologically – I would be reading about the history of a certain dish one minute, then it would jump to something unrelated, then go back to the dish that was the focus of that particular chapter. This made some of the chapters a little hard to follow, resulting in me having to re-read some parts in order to refocus my attention. Despite the fact that I love to eat, I’m not much of a food connoisseur, so I don’t usually read a whole lot of food memoirs. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not opposed to reading them, but it’s not really a priority for me, especially in light of all the other books out there that I want to read. I decided to pick this one up because, aside from the fact that it was chosen for one of my book clubs this month, there’s also the shared cultural familiarity in terms of the author’s background (Chinese-American, daughter from immigrant family, grew up in the U.S., etc.) – but more than that though, I also have an interest in French culture and cuisine that stems from my school days (eons ago) when I had actually studied French for a number of years, even nearly majoring in it in college. For all these reasons, I was excited to read this and even though in the end, it didn’t quite live up to expectations, I still liked it well enough overall for me to feel that it was worth my time. In addition, I’m also interested in reading the 2 novels that Mah wrote, especially the one about Chinese cuisine, which she mentioned briefly in this book. Hopefully, it’s something I’ll be able to get to next year.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A comfortable and comforting exploration of regional French cuisine, with a few small nods to Julia Child along the way. In this book Ann Mah lets us view 10 different regions of France through her expat lens, while learning the history, adaptations and cultural significance of one classic dish from that region. Each chapter ends with Mah's own accessible take on a recipe for the dish - one that can be cooked anywhere in the world with the ingredients available. Some of these dishes were familia A comfortable and comforting exploration of regional French cuisine, with a few small nods to Julia Child along the way. In this book Ann Mah lets us view 10 different regions of France through her expat lens, while learning the history, adaptations and cultural significance of one classic dish from that region. Each chapter ends with Mah's own accessible take on a recipe for the dish - one that can be cooked anywhere in the world with the ingredients available. Some of these dishes were familiar to me, and others I'd never heard of before, but all were worthy of inclusion. From the crêpes of Brittany to the aligot of Aveyron, there's bound to be something of interest to everyone. In amongst all the food, I was equally absorbed by Mah's personal story of expat life in the French capital over the initial 4 years she lived there. This included a period where she was preparing for the publication of her first novel, Kitchen Chinese, which I'd read quite a few years ago. Some reviewers have criticised the balance between the food and the personal stuff, but for me it was absolutely fine, and the year of separation from her husband while he took a short post in Iraq was the catalyst for her solo culinary exploration, so I think it's useful to have that context. As a sporadic reader of Mah's blog at http://www.annmah.net/ where she helped me to discover my #1 Chinese condiment, I loved spending a week with her in France learning about some potential new French culinary discoveries. Recommended to armchair travellers everywhere!

  10. 5 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.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 4 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 5 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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. 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Spencer

    If you go into this book expecting a memoir as opposed to a treatise of French food, I think you'll enjoy what you find. There are certainly plenty of interesting tidbits about the origins of beloved French dishes and various aspects of regional French cuisine, and there are some interesting-sounding recipes (I am determined to make that cassoulet this winter!). However, much of the book centers on the author's own journey through her first year living in Paris. Ann Mah expected to spend three ye If you go into this book expecting a memoir as opposed to a treatise of French food, I think you'll enjoy what you find. There are certainly plenty of interesting tidbits about the origins of beloved French dishes and various aspects of regional French cuisine, and there are some interesting-sounding recipes (I am determined to make that cassoulet this winter!). However, much of the book centers on the author's own journey through her first year living in Paris. Ann Mah expected to spend three years enjoying life in Paris with her husband, a US Foreign Service officer. However, shortly after arriving, he gets sent on to a 1 year unaccompanied post in Iraq, leaving Mah to navigate Paris on her own. She has no connections in the city and knows very few people. In this book, Mah walks readers through her own loneliness and her various avenues to creating community and a richer life for herself. She also discusses her love of France, and we get to travel along with her as she takes road trips in France to discover methods of cheesemaking, how to create a soupe au pistou in its native Provence, and so on. With each journey, she learns more about food and also more about herself. At several points in the book, Mah muses on the connections between her life and the life that Julia Child lived with her own diplomat husband in Paris. These felt interesting and natural, and I enjoyed how her references added to the story. I had read the rather gimmicky Julie and Julia and loathed it, so I came into this book wary of Julia Child references. However, Mah pulls it off so much better. The opening of this book dragged a little and it took me some time to get into it, but once I did, I enjoyed the armchair trip around France.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Frost

    This was an amazing book of Ann Mah's time in Paris, France. Her life mirrored Julia Child's in so many ways and I found the book fascinating. Warning to vegans like me, she does describe meat, parts of the animals in great detail, which would be fascinating for aspiring french chefs, but not so much for me. :) That being said I enjoyed hearing about her adventures and realizing how much food can feed your soul and bring family and friends together. This was an amazing book of Ann Mah's time in Paris, France. Her life mirrored Julia Child's in so many ways and I found the book fascinating. Warning to vegans like me, she does describe meat, parts of the animals in great detail, which would be fascinating for aspiring french chefs, but not so much for me. :) That being said I enjoyed hearing about her adventures and realizing how much food can feed your soul and bring family and friends together.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Y.

    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    serena

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

  25. 5 out of 5

    LoneStarWords Deb Coco

    This is my second Paris themed fail in the past month. As I said with Parks by the Book, setting can make up for a lot, but it can't be everything. And yet Mastering the Art of French Eating, a memoir about an American woman "stuck" in Paris for a year while her diplomat husband is on duty in Baghdad...there was so much promise. At the very least it would be an escape. And it did start out well. For the first 1/4 of the book, I was smitten with the author's descriptions of Paris and the food tha This is my second Paris themed fail in the past month. As I said with Parks by the Book, setting can make up for a lot, but it can't be everything. And yet Mastering the Art of French Eating, a memoir about an American woman "stuck" in Paris for a year while her diplomat husband is on duty in Baghdad...there was so much promise. At the very least it would be an escape. And it did start out well. For the first 1/4 of the book, I was smitten with the author's descriptions of Paris and the food that makes it famous. But all of a sudden this foodie memoir goes off the rails when the author begins whining about her situation - one that most would die for - and the rest of it soured for me. As a vegetarian, Paris is not my cup of tea. I struggle with their meaty, saucy food and some of the descriptions of the author's favorite dishes had me gaging in the same way I did when I looked at a menu the first time I visited. But as soon as she travelled south towards Provence, an area I love for both food and scenery, I reconnected a bit and enjoyed the sections on their mediterranean fare. But then the story turns back to the author complaining about her situation, which really felt crazy - she had visits and vacations with her husband in the most famous city in the world and meanwhile she had a year in Paris to do her "thing" -- yet she found a way to complain about it. Like many memoirs, this one wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Is it truly a memoir about an American discovering how to prepare the regional dishes of France? For me it felt more like the author's admission of being uncomfortable without her husband while in Paris and her attempt to make friends through the passion for food. That didn't work for me for the reasons I've mentioned - she came off incredibly entitled and it became very boring. The audio was well done but the overall narrative was not for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Three years in Paris was a dream come true for Ann and her husband, Calvin. His job as a diplomat was the reason for their relocating to Paris. Quickly after moving into their new apartment Calvin was asked to go to work in Baghdad and spouses couldn’t go. This then is the story of Ann’s solo life in Paris and many other trips she made in France on her quest for food stories. I loved her descriptions of Paris and other French towns and cities and her recipes are so interesting - a bit scary but Three years in Paris was a dream come true for Ann and her husband, Calvin. His job as a diplomat was the reason for their relocating to Paris. Quickly after moving into their new apartment Calvin was asked to go to work in Baghdad and spouses couldn’t go. This then is the story of Ann’s solo life in Paris and many other trips she made in France on her quest for food stories. I loved her descriptions of Paris and other French towns and cities and her recipes are so interesting - a bit scary but she makes you feel like you might want to try one or two. If you love Paris and everything French as I do this a the right book for you.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    First audiobook of 2021! Can you call a book 'tasty' and 'delicous'? Because this had my mouth watering as it invigorated my taste buds, and it had my mind remembering how lovely real French food tastes. I couldn't help but reminisce about my own trip to Paris while listening to Ann's stories. There truly is something delicious about French cuisine. And croissants are not the same anywhere else. HANDS DOWN! Each chapter also ended with a recipe, which would be great for foodies or anyone who wants First audiobook of 2021! Can you call a book 'tasty' and 'delicous'? Because this had my mouth watering as it invigorated my taste buds, and it had my mind remembering how lovely real French food tastes. I couldn't help but reminisce about my own trip to Paris while listening to Ann's stories. There truly is something delicious about French cuisine. And croissants are not the same anywhere else. HANDS DOWN! Each chapter also ended with a recipe, which would be great for foodies or anyone who wants to give French cuisine a whirl in their own kitchen! However, I wanted more from this book, and that's why my rating is only 3/5. I would have loved more talk about French desserts and wine. And I don't feel like I came out of this book with any life-changing takeaways or insights. But it is still a good listen, and I think if you are more of a foodie or a chef, you'll enjoy this book more.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Kalmar

    Well there’s no travel now. Kind of nice to immerse yourself in a place and pretend that you are. Especially if eating is involved.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    As a vegetarian - there was a lot that I skimmed in this book. It's not that I won't read about meat - I've loved "My Life in France," for example, but I found that this was very vivid and descriptive about meat. Also, I found her to be so unaware of herself and how she came across - she had enough money to take off work (presumably) to gallavant off to different parts of France and spend long stretches of time in different villages, the whole time whining about how difficult life was for her. I As a vegetarian - there was a lot that I skimmed in this book. It's not that I won't read about meat - I've loved "My Life in France," for example, but I found that this was very vivid and descriptive about meat. Also, I found her to be so unaware of herself and how she came across - she had enough money to take off work (presumably) to gallavant off to different parts of France and spend long stretches of time in different villages, the whole time whining about how difficult life was for her. I get being lonely and the unexpectedness of her husband being deployed, but she had little self-awareness. Having said that, I did enjoy the bits of the different histories of the French regions - I am a big fan of Eleanor of Aquitaine so good to see her home region get a shout-out and the crepe chapter was particularly lovely. Now, I'm hungry for some blini!

  30. 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.

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