This mix of fact and fiction will teach you everything you could ever want to know about French cuisine: what it is, when it began, who helped it along the way, why it’s so good, how to make it, and where to find the best of the best.
1-Feeding Frenzy, by Stuart Stevens
Subtitled “Across Europe in search of the perfect meal,” this is a very funny and fun-to-read novel about two people who decide to eat at every Michelin-rated three-star restaurant in Europe on consecutive days. Though it’s billed as fiction, the restaurant and menu descriptions are so detailed that they must be based in fact.
2-The Great Book of French Cuisine, by Henri-Paul Pellaprat, Jeremiah Tower
Study the four basic types of French cuisine (la haute cuisine, la cuisine bourgeoise, la cuisine régionale, and la cuisine impromptue), learn some French cooking terms, and then try your hand at some of the 2,000 recipes included in this definitive reference to French cuisine.
3-On Rue Tatin, by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Food writer and owner of a cooking school, Mrs. Loomis went to France to study and ended up buying a house. Reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” in tone and content, this is a lovely book for anyone interested in France and French food. Includes recipes at the end of each chapter.
4-Wine and Cheese of France, by Jean Doroy
This wonderful volume explains how to pair two of the most celebrated ingredients in French gastronomy.
5-La France Gourmande: A Food Lover’s Guide to French Festivals
by Marolyn Charpentier. This is a definitive guide to food festivals throughout France. It’s less playful that Peter Mayle’s, below, but more complete.
6-French Gastronomy, by Jean-Robert Pitte, Jody Gladding
Subtitled “The history and geography of a passion,” this book on French gastronomy looks at the first recipe books, the specialities of French regions, the effects of French cuisine on the rest of the world, and much more.
7-French Lessons, by Peter Mayle
Mr. Mayle leaves his beloved Provence in search of food and wine celebrations all over France. Cheese, aristocratic chickens, escargot, frog legs, cheese, and wine are just a few of the treats in store for readers.
8-The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture
by Rebecca L. Spang. It had never occurred to me that restaurants had to be invented – they are such an integral, “normal” part of life, like family and work. Now, of course, it’s clear that if they were invented, it had to be the French that did it. This is a fascinating look back at the history of restaurants.
9-French Food: On the table, on the page, and in French culture
by Lawrence R. Schehr, Allen S. Weiss. Literary essays on French food, from its origins, through art and literature, to the influence of McDonald’s.
10-The Fat Fallacy, by William Clower, Ph.D.
Subtitled “The French diet secrets to permanent weight loss,” this book explains how you can eat like the French (who consume much more fat than diet plans allow) and still lose weight.