Summary

A rich, lively book about the upheaval in French gastronomy, set against the backdrop of France's diminishing fortunes as a nation.
France is in a rut, and so is French cuisine. Twenty-five years ago, it was hard to have a bad meal in France; now, in some cities and towns, it is a challenge to find a good one. For the first time in the annals of modern cooking, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants in the world are not French. Within France, large segments of the wine industry are in crisis, cherished artisanal cheeses are threatened with extinction, and bistros and brasseries are disappearing at an alarming rate. But business is brisk at some establishments: Astonishingly, France has become the second-most-profitable market in the world for McDonalds. How did this happen?
To find out, Michael Steinberger takes an enviable trip through the traditional pleasures of France. He talks to top chefs (Alain Ducasse, Paul Gagnaire, Paul Bocuse), winemakers, farmers, bakers, and other artisans. He visits the Élysée Palace, interviews the head of McDonald's Europe, marches down a Paris boulevard with Jos Bov, and breaks bread with the editorial director of the powerful and secretive Michelin Guide.
He spends hours with some of Frances brightest young chefs and winemakers, who are battling to reinvigorate the countrys rich culinary heritage. The result is a sharp and funny book that will give Francophiles everywhere an entirely new perspective - political, economic, personal, and cultural - on the crisis in the country and food they love.
©2009 Michael Steinberger (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"A culinary expedition through France hunting for the root of the slow decline of the country’s acclaimed food and wine traditions... Steinberger’s meticulous research and personal hunger for objective truths bring surprising discoveries to light... connected to the larger issue of who or what defines modern France and, by extension, its food. An offering of fresh and engaging insights for foodies and Francophiles alike." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Jeroth on 17-01-11

Au Revoir to happiness and romance

A depressing diatribe by a jolted Francophile deceived by their own infatuation of what France never was.

The humour in the book is as wincingly observed as watching tv rerun of funny a home video accidents where you can see what will happen but where the individual injures themselves in a way that the audience shares the pain.

Despite this and the dreary tone of the narrator, it is an interesting comparison of the authors squinted memory compared with the present days' stark realities. It also tracks the changes of culinary life through the eyes of the authors own social changes.

If it's the food that interests you, the reflections described are less about the recipes and more about the cooks intentions and commercial directions. If you are less bothered about todays celebrity chefs of the world but more about how they are connected to origins from yester-years unknowns then parts of this book may be of interest.

It was an effort to listen to and didn't inspire me to 'turn the page' (or press play!).

Not for the downhearted.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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