Sunday, July 19, 2020

Paris in July: Remembrance of Things Paris

When "Gourmet" magazine folded in November 2009, readers lost not only a wonderful source of recipes but some fascinating articles that took them around the world. In "Remembrance of Things Paris," a collection of essays from sixty years of the magazine, editor Ruth Reichl pulls out not only the best of the "food" posts about Paris but also features that visited other spots in the City of Light.


Through the eyes of several journalists, we get to step behind the scenes at such spots as Cartier's, the Druout auction house and the House of Dior.

The first few offerings visit Paris after World War II, noting the changes this devastating event made on the city and its cooking. One that particularly touched me was a selection by George Bijur in which he visits his old phonetics teacher after the war and is subsequently invited to the old man's home for a memorable chicken dinner.

While it may have been a magazine for those who love food, the articles I loved best both in Gourmet and in this book were about Paris itself, many by Joseph Wechsberg or Naomi Berry. Wechsberg  takes readers to such intriguing places as Librarie Salet (a gourmet and rare cookbook shop) , the Parisian Police Museum, the Musee du Cinema and introduces readers to the "nose" of Guerlain, makers of internationally renowned perfumes.

He also takes viewers to the Marche aux Fleurs (one of my favorite places).


And he gets a rare interview with the man who made Berthillon a "must visit" spot for anyone traveling to Paris.


New Yorker architecture critic looks at "The New Face of Paris," buildings created in more recent decades that are nothing like the classic Haussman-type architecture we see.


Chef Patric Kuh writes about his earliest experiences working in a professional kitchen in "When I was Green," in which he had to master the essential art of asparagus.

Michael Lewis, author of "Moneyball" and "The Big Short" tells of his parents' visit to Paris and his commitment to make an authentic cassoulet -- which isn't that easy to do when mom is in the kitchen. (He shares the recipe.)

Several pieces look at the old Les Halles market and the new Halles at Rungis, all with great nostalgia for what was lost when the great food market, the "belly of Paris," was moved out of town.

And with Llian Langseth Christiansen we step into a private post-Christening party -- no small thing! (Menu included!)

Editor Judith Jones and her husband, Evan, recall a Christmas in Paris. Jones was the editor who took a chance on a young cookbook author named Julia Child. Her story was one of my favorites, perhaps because of her reference to the delightful bakery, Poilane, one Rick and I visited several years ago.


Another renowned American, Alice B. Toklas is fondly remembered. One never lunched at Alice's in a hurry!


But should you think that restaurants and bistros are left out, think again. Both Wechsberg and Berry cover the bistro scene. Wechsberg visits a restaurant seeing its star power in "When Michelin comes Calling," and "The Young Chefs of Paris" (written in 1979) features "newcomers" at the time.


Frank J. Prial vsits some wine vendors.


Two splendid pieces focus on the legendary Belle Epoch restaurant, Maxim's, while Naomi Berry also looks at Paris ' Haute Chocolaterie and visits many well regarded chocolatiers, bringing back recipes from the Hotel Meurice, Le Crillon, the Ritz and more.

Indeed, for the intrepid cook (particularly one with a budget to play with) there is much to enjoy in this delightful book of mostly short selections, long after the last page is turned!

I've had this book on my shelf for too long and now wonder why I didn't read it cover to cover at the first opportunity. Perhaps it was meant to be saved for now, when the thought of returning to Paris and the reality of that possibility seem like polar opposites. In these selections I was taken to spots Í have visitied and those into which I'd probably never be allowed in. But oh, that I could!

This post is part of Paris in July, a blog event focusing on food, music, films, style, books, travel and all things Parisian and French. For links to other Paris in July posts, visit HERE. (Another Paris in July post visiting the arts square Place du Tertre is below.)

Sharing with:    Paris in July     /    Let's Keep in Touch   /     Pink Saturday     

38 comments:

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

Okay, now I'm hungry and lusting after that steak and a little wine.

Mae Travels said...

You really found the high points in these essays! So many perfect Paris legends embodied there. I've had my eye on that collection, but I hesitate because I already have collections by some of the same authors (like Wechsberg) and so there would be duplication.

Is that your photo of the Stravinsky Fountain by Niki de Saint Phalle? There is a blank wall nearby in the photo that most recently was covered with a big mural-- I wonder about that history!

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

BeachGypsy said...

That is really neat!--a great collection. I know how much y'all love Paris. You've seen some really beautiful and historic sights and I do so enjoy all the pictures you made there.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

It's wonderful to be reading about food in Paris. It sounds like a fun read, too. Maybe the book is a bit like good food: eaten slowly and savored. It sounds like you have lived a part of it, anyway.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

The closest I got to eating at Maxim's was a charming restaurant next door! Such a fitting tribute to your lost magazine; my favourite was the old Victoria magazine, which went out of print in the late '90s. Since it was revamped, I find it no longer has the interest or panache of the original, so sometimes it's best to say goodbye to the old and hang on to all your precious copies.

~~~Deb in Wales

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie

The book sounds wonderful. Paris must be wonderful for all the foodie lovers, just the bread, wine and chocolate would make me happy. Take care! Have a great new week!

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

Must be a wonderful job to try restaurants and then write about it. Yes, French food has a special place in our hearts. However, being in France it is difficult to find very good restaurants I have found. Probably easier in Paris.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I had my first glass of wine at a sidewalk café on the Champ-Elysée when I was fourteen years old. I remember it was a Sauterne. So began a life long love of wine, and I can't imagine a better introduction. Eating in Paris, even more so in France outside of Paris in my opinion, has always been a great delight, and even the simplest of establishments serve good food. But in France I have never eaten in one of the legendary spots and I vow now that if ever I return to Paris I will set aside money ahead of time to do so. The last terrific meal I had in France was just a few years ago, outdoors in the ancient town of Foix, beneath the castle. It was a simple cassoulet, followed by a cheese plate. I forget the wine, but it was quite delicious. And the waiter, recognizing that my accent was not of the area, was entranced that we were from Canada, yet spoke "un français impeccable" and every time he had a moment made an excuse to come by our table and exchange a few words. Life in its grand simplicity is sometimes very good.

R's Rue said...

❤️

crackercrumblife said...

This book sounds wonderful! I will have to add it to my TBR. I love your thoughts and memories mingled within the review of another's remembrances.

thepaintedapron.com said...

I have read several of Ruth Reichl's books, and always enjoy them. This book sounds full of wonderful moments, especially for you Jeanie who has been to France and some of these places. I am more of an armchair traveler as my husband hated to travel, and traveling by book is fine with me!
Jenna

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Good morning, Jeanie. This looks like a wonderful book, one I would thoroughly enjoy. I remember reading about Judith Jones in the book "Dearie."

These days have certainly given me the opportunity to catch up on some reading. Wishing you a great week. Stay well.

The French Hutch said...

What a wonderful book for you to enjoy and compare with your memories of these special places. Someone here has a lot of those same memories. Oh how I am craving another special birthday evening out at Maxim's, then a walk to Place de las Madeleine. Oh how I miss Paris! Jeanie, you have such special stories of so many special places in Paris, thanks for sharing them.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

So very well written Jeanie, you words make me wish that I could return for another visit.

Stevenson Q said...

I poured myself some of that wine on Rick's photo :) Thank you so much for taking me back to Paris! I would have been there again this winter but yes, COVID happened. Maybe and hopefully some other time perhaps next year? It's more accessible to me now that my best friend lives there. Have a great new week dear Jeanie!

Anca said...

Look at that bread! I think I could one by myself. As you can tell, I'm very found of bread. I'd love to try the wine too.

anno said...

Thanks for this review, Jeanie -- another one for my ever-growing list!

Vagabonde said...

This sounds like a great book. I had not heard of it but, right now, I don’t know if I’d like to read it as I am afraid I’d get too nostalgic. You mentioned the Drouot Auction House – we lived close to it and my father bought many items from them. My mother insisted to ship a container of them to me in Atlanta and now that I am moving am not sure what to do with them – too valuable to give to the Goodwill. I miss also going to eat lunches with friends in little restaurants or bistros in Paris. Here in Nashville the food is different and I could not find a French one. There is one but sounds kind of pretentious and overpriced. Plus even though I’ve been here two years I don’t know anyone. Americans might be friendly but if you are French with an accent, they are not very hospitable (they look at me suspectingly.) I guess it’s like in every country.
I did send for flour directly from Paris and made some bread. Do you know it smelt like in a French bakery while baking? I could not believe it, must be the grain or something. It tasted French and like the bread there, after one day it was hard! But made a good sandwich au saucisson avec fromage… I really enjoyed your post.

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a wonderful little trip to Paris you've given us today, Jeannie. Ah...to walk down the avenues again. Can't wait. In the meantime I've added this to my "must get" list. Thank you so much for sharing. xo Lidy

Hena Tayeb said...

This little virtual trip to Paris is better than no trip at all.. so sad that we can not safely vacation for the foreseeable future.

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely post and this sounds an amazing book.

Have a good week, stay well.

All the best Jan

Susie said...

Jeanie, If I could just have a nice cup of coffee and a sweet at a cafe, in Paris , I would be in heaven. LOL. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

My name is Erika. said...

I do like Ruth Reichl. And I bet she put together a nice collection of writings. You illustrate this with so many nice photos too Jeanie. And I especially liked the colorful statue outside the Pompidou. I visited in February and there was no water sprouting at that time. Hope you're having a good start to your week. Hugs-Erika

Iris Flavia said...

The name Ruth Reichl sure rang a bell. Read it before right here :-)
Yes, Covid/Corinna sure makes us browse in archives and but dream about holiday plans broken down.

Bella Rum said...

Sounds like a wonderful book, Jeanie. You make everyone want to visit Paris. I'd go for the food and wine alone. :)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oooh this sounds like a fun book, especially for Paris lovers! It’s good to be forced to shop our own shelves from time to time!!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. Your photos are wonderful, too.

Darn. It's not at my library.

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I would love this book. Thanks for sharing it, I have put it on my list of must reads!

Tammie Lee said...

these glimpses of your France memories are lovely.
So glad you had that time there and now the memories.... such an odd year with only local travelers. But I wish people would have stayed in their own states this summer. Our numbers of the virus have grown so much since summer began. Before that we were doing so good as a state. Oh well.

Sami said...

A wonderful book for food lovers :)

Luiz Gomes said...

Good morning Jeanie thanks for visiting my blog, enjoying and I started to follow your blog. I'm a follower 320. Congratulations on your work. I would like to have the privilege of you following me on my blog too.

Pam said...

So sure that if I lived in Paris I would be big as a horse.

Marilyn Miller said...

I actually think I have read this one quite awhile ago. Yes, Poilane is worth visiting. We once went on a chocolate walking tour in Paris, but eventhough Poilane wasn't a chocolate shop they took us there. It was a treat.

handmade by amalia said...

This talk of remembering Paris makes me want to see Casablanca again. And eat ice cream.
Amalia
xo

R's Rue said...

Beautiful.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeanie, I haven't read this book yet, but when I do I'll remember this post!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I dream of Paris and hope I get to go in person one day! I enjoyed seeing all your photos

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Paris...love how you take us back...Thank you, Rita

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