First, a warning: This book isn't the usual kind of book about food; it has no restaurant reviews, and very few recipes. You won't hear about that darling place in Dordogne, but you may learn how to slice a cuttlefish. This is about food as experience. And who better to describe that experience than the French? French Feast is a wide-ranging collection of mostly short stories that starts as far back as Gargantua and The Three Musketeers, meanders forward through The Belly of Paris, and bursts with a flowering of such different modern writers as the authors of The Small Pleasures of Life and The Butcher. The stories' variety and idiosyncratic twists are delicious. Who would have thought that the bank robber's gun was actually made of nougat? Or that you can starve at a chic Paris dinner when the fuses blow? Some stories are elegiac, like "The Taste of New Wine," or rich with family memories, like "Bresse." Others cast an ironic eye on diners' manners--or their marriages, as in "Tears of Laughter." Still others lusciously combine food and love: you can use porcupine stew to seduce a neighbor, or a caramel berlingot to poison a faithless lover.The trick, in food as in writing, is to do it with taste.
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