**THIS IS A TWO-PART POST. CHECK BACK FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR!**
Aah...Paris in July. It sounds nice, doesn't it? I wish I could have immersed myself more into the place, the culture, and (of course!) the books this month. Though I've been slow to start, I'm hoping to finish July with some great stuff, starting with Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard. (Oops! Dead camera battery + need to post = photo of book in following post.)
Though this book is subtitled "A Love Story, with Recipes," I don't want you to be dissuaded or assume I've been uncharacteristically reading some bodice-ripper instead of Les Miserables. In fact, after a somewhat shocking first line, "I slept with my French husband halfway through our first date," this book focuses more on the development of a life together in Paris rather than the physical aspect of their relationship. If there is seduction in this book, it is almost always found in the recipes at the end of each chapter, which had me wishing I was brave enough to try every one of them.
In this memoir/recipe collection, Elizabeth Bard is straddling genres just as she has been straddling continents for awhile now. After visiting Paris and falling for a Frenchman, Bard gradually became a Paris-dweller, a wife, a mother, and an amazing cook. Actually, I think she was probably a pretty excellent cook before moving to Paris, but Paris is what made her think food could be part of her professional life, or so the book seems to indicate. Either way, this book does an admirable job of telling several stories of her personal growth while also providing excellent ideas and instruction. Though Lunch in Paris has been likened to Eat, Pray, Love, I would compare it more to Kathleen Flinn's work. The stories and the recipes just roll out together, and the overall experience is one of intimacy and inspiration.
Each chapter chronicles her time in Paris and concludes with a few recipes (somewhat) related to the events described in the chapter. For instance, in the first chapter (where the aforementioned love affair begins so suddenly), she includes "Recipes for Seduction," which are merely the Fresh Mint Tea, Charlotte aux Abricots, and pasta Gwendal makes for her during their first weekend together. Though some of the recipes intimidate me, most are accessible and exciting. Later this week, I will show you what happens when I attempt her Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes. Additionally, Bard has graciously agreed to an interview, so you'll not want to miss that.
Bard and her family have since moved to Provence, and she updates her blog occasionally with recipes and pictures. She also has a little boy, and in a recent post for The Children's Book Review, she provides her top five (actually 6) favorite books for kids and asks for recommendations of both new and classic children's books. Here are my suggestions for the 3-5 year old set:
The Tub People by Pam Conrad and Richard Egielski. I love the way this book tells a wonderful story from two equally true but notably different perspectives. The art and the text marry perfectly, and the rhythm of the book is just right. Every time I read it, I smile.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I have made no secret of my love of this book. It is as perfect as it gets.
Any of the books by Richard Scarry. Though I hate to read them, my children have loved these books for their silly illustrations and funny situations. For a dual-language learner, they can be great for vocabulary development or reminders.
What do you think? Any suggestions for Elizabeth Bard and her family?