Friday, May 06, 2011

Cook the Books Presents.............Lunch in Paris

This month at Cook the Books we are reading Elizabeth Bard's book Lunch in Paris.

This could be made into a romantic comedy-drama movie easily ……….with a Parisian setting and scenes in the restaurants, cheese shops, the wedding…….oh yeah. People would go see that. I am enjoyed this book and the way the author speaks to you as she would if you were sharing lunch conversation. Laid back, to-the-point, witty and engaging.

One of the events where she felt her life changing:

“The thought occurred to me more than once. What in the name of Karl Lagerfeld am I doing here?

I was wearing the same clothes, holding the same drink, as a night out in New York , but everything felt wrong. I didn’t belong to this amped -up jet set………only three months out of Manhattan, and my sense of destiny, of arrogant momentum, was beginning to dessert me. I was trailing my old life into my new life like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my black lizard heels. I was trying too hard. It was conspicuous and embarrassing, and I wasn’t having any fun.”

I liked the way she described their parents meeting for the first time:

“Gwendal and I are both only children, so it was clear that each side was offering up their most prized possession, hoping others knew what a precious gift they were receiving. When introducing future in-laws, a language barrier can be a very useful thing indeed”

The two couples sitting across from each other tonight were so different that there was no possible way they could pass judgement. My mother was a bobby-socked sorority girl who saw Elvis in concert at the Brooklyn Paramount . Paul grew up speaking Yiddish in the Bronx . Nicole was born in Casablanca when Morocco was still a French protectorate, and Yanig was raised in a small fishing village in Brittany, where he would sail his grandfather’s boat.”

Yet it worked….they had nothing in common except their children.

I delighted in the courtship, the wedding and the cultural differences they were getting accustomed to with one another….but Chapter 14 wiped the smile off my face. The way Yanig’s condition was described and the fact that Elizabeth spent time in her in-laws kitchen, thinking of Yanig and her own father, was a topic I was quite empathetic over. Why didn’t Yanig’s family get a second opinion, ask questions, research options?

“It dawned on me for the first time. In coming to Paris I signed up for more than flaky croissants and shiny mackerel. I had accepted a way of dealing with life and death. ….I was trapped in someone else’s system, like I’d bought a one-way ticket to a place I didn’t understand”

This is a memoir I would recommend for anyone who enjoys reading about France, cross cultural exchanges as well as some fine recipes. We have already made several and plan to try more soon.

In keeping with the spirit of making it as Gwendal might, by purging the refrigerator and adding pancetta, I present:

Pasta a la Gwendal

Some olive oil
A large hunk of pancetta
chopped into small bits
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A few carrots, chopped thinly
1 zucchini, chopped into rounds
A heaping forkful of sun-dried tomatoes
Chopped parsley

While the pancetta is browning up in the frying pan I am chopping veggies.

Pasta water is on the boil, the veggies are tossed into the frying pan.
Now I added a bit of sour cream to this vegetable and pancetta mixture....just to get it creamy.


I also prepared Ratatouille, recipe is on page 173 in the book.

Served with grilled lamb

Surf over to Cook the Books and join in!

Also, I am sending this to Kirsten at From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours - this weeks host at Presto Pasta Nights.


I am cross posting to Novel Meals since it's a book review :-)


  1. Okay, I'm gonna be honest and tell you that I didn't read this thoroughly...because I'm only about 3/4 of the way done with this book and I was worried about spoilers...BUT the food looks delicious. I have the ratatouille marked to try, too- yours looks just like I pictured it. Lovely!

  2. fun sounding book, of course, with you behind the reading glasses and the results of your finds, we all are the benefactors of your shared knowledge and letting us in on such good finds, or not some times... this pasta sounds like great and keeping with the spirit of Gwendal as you say, keeps it fun as the read...

  3. This sounds like SUCH a great read and I love that it inspired such delicious food! Ratatouille and pasta...can't go wrong with either of those!

  4. Girlichef - I'm glad you didn't read all this...some spoilers....I liked it! Thanks about the meal comments :-)

    Damn Drick, you make me feel smart :-0 haha Try that ratatouille!

    Joanne - Thanks! It was good, I am working on Hemingway now for the Italy in Reading Challenege 2011. Your column for Samuelsson was great!!

  5. Love this kind of book; right up my alley. Have to find this one for sure and it would be a great movie. Ratatouille holds a special place in my heart.

  6. I am so glad you loved the book. I enjoyed those recipes too, very homey and easy to make.

  7. Love that Gwendal pasta. Glad you enjoyed the book, mon amie.

  8. Beautiful looking pasta and ratatouille!

  9. I love a homey Ratatouille, as well as pasta made from whatever's on hand. We have that in common with Gwendal I guess. Good review and recipe choices.

  10. This was a great read and I just posted my musings on the Cook the Books' site. I am dying to purge my pantry and refrigerator and try this dish. The possibilities are endless. Enjoyed your post.

  11. Rita, I'm right with you on the ratatouille. Thanks! - This book is worth owning just for the recipe. I agree with you.

    Rachel - I am loaning the book out now, enjoyed it very much. Thank you!

    Foodiecat - Thank you so much :-)

    Eliotseats - I'm off to visit your site and see what you made. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Love the pasta! We call this kind of thing CleaningTheFridge pasta, a favorite dinner, different every time. After reading this book, though I think it could be renamed Gwendal's Pasta.

  13. Good choices and review. I too like to clear out the fridge occasionally with pasta as my base. And, you can't go wrong with grilled lamb or ratatouille.

  14. Thank you both, Kaye and Claudia - we have "Gwendal's pasta quite a bit. Wasn't this a good memoir packed with recipes?


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