French Lessons

by Peter Mayle

Vintage Books, April, 2002.
Trade paperback, 227 pages.
ISBN: 0375705619

French Lessons by Peter Mayle English by birth and French by inclination, Peter Mayle has enchanted readers with his stories of living in Provence. In French Lessons, Mayle provides us with thirteen witty, wise and humorous essays on the joys of the table. He begins by describing the sad state of his taste buds when he was a boy growing up in post-war England. "I still have vivid memories of boarding school cuisine, which seemed to have been carefully color-coordinated -- gray meat, gray potatoes, gray vegetables, gray flavor. At the time, I thought it was perfectly normal." But to a Frenchman, such a meal is a horror, as Mayle was later to find out on his lifelong gastronomic journey. Mayle takes us to his first business lunch in France as a young ad executive, which was such a revelation that he left his boss' briefcase at the restaurant (which eventually led to him being an ex-ad executive).

Now a resident of France, Mayle spent an entire year discovering the best that France has to offer: from the church services to thank the Almighty for the glorious truffle, to the French idea of a marathon (high heels and cross-dressing encouraged), to the fantastic annual wine auction at Beaune, Burgundy, the joys of escargot, and a visit to a Spa to recover from all the fairs, dinners and parties. Mayle's writing style is deliciously descriptive and enjoyable: much as a good Burgundy wine. Highly recommended.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the June, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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