Excerpt from A Goose in Toulouse by Mort Rosenblum, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Goose in Toulouse

and Other Culinary Adventures in France

by Mort Rosenblum

A Goose in Toulouse
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 285 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2001, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt




During the next quarter century in close proximity to the French, I rocketed through the foreigner's usual love-'em, hate-'em stages, but experience confirmed what was obvious from that first taste. Good food, with all that is behind it, is the defining metaphor of France.

France is a feast, all right, but there is nothing movable about it. Its richness is a broad blend of ingredients, artfully put together and laid out with purpose. Taken individually, some aspects are about as pleasant as a mouthful of raw garlic. Together, it all works to exhilarating effect.

It is simply a matter of point of view. Even before the new American virility drug was approved in France, a chef in the Alps smuggled a supply from Switzerland to make "beef piccata in Viagra sauce with fig vinegar and fine herbs." Pfizer declared, "The objective of a medicine is not to be in a sauce." But the New Jersey drugmakers were wrong. In France, one way or another, everything is a sauce.

I saw that to appreciate the French, a foreigner had to keep in mind the same three cardinal rules for enjoying a fine French meal: Remember that France is essentially prix fixe with service, such as it is or isn't, compris. Take things on the terms offered, without asking too many questions or demanding substitutions. And, always, eat the cheese.

Encroachment by microwaves and McDonald's has not altered the proprietary notions that the French hold over anything edible. This extends from star chefs in Paris to housewives on backstreets in Béziers. Most would rather reveal to foreigners the location of missile sites than the secret of keeping an endive safe from bitterness (don't get it wet).

Something new does not threaten, it is simply digested. Fast-food burgers came to France just before I did, and I stopped with a friend at a local franchise on the Lyon autoroute. She was from Idaho, a "catsup" state. That's what she requested. "Comment?" demanded the teenaged girl behind the counter. "C'est quoi, catsup?"

"You know, for the fries," my friend said. "Sauce tomate."

"Ah," the girl replied. Correcting my friend's French with a slight condescending sneer, she said, "Vous voulez dire: ketchup."

Ketchup soon joined the everyday vernacular along with doughnut and double cheese. When something suddenly flows smoothly after some sort of obstacle, that is l'effet ketchup.

When I first got to Paris, the only place to find tacos was in my kitchen. Now they are everywhere, sort of. A French taco, known as un tacos, is usually lettuce, some cheese, meaty bolognese sauce, and a sweet tomato salsa piled onto a flat tortilla. How else could you eat it with a fork, as any Frenchman can tell you is the proper way to do it?

The French have plenty that is all their own. Producing superlative edibles for centuries has made up the framework of socioeconomic structures. Roquefort, for instance, is not merely cheese. It is a complex network of shepherds, dairymen, fromagers, geologists, hewers and haulers, and business executives. New space-age industries may have nothing to do with food, but, when dinnertime rolls around, watch how the salaries are spent.

Frenchmen also love ideas. A standard encyclopedia of homegrown intellectuals runs to 1,200 pages. And none of them meet to muse without at least a Proustian madeleine.

And politics. France remains a world power. Yet for all the effort François Mitterrand put into defining his place in history, what many Frenchmen remember most is a last supper described in a biography by Georges-Marc Benamou. Nearly gone with prostate cancer, Mitterrand called in close friends for a final forbidden feast.

The president began with oysters, flat belons, not too salty, the way he liked them. He had called from a state visit to Egypt to be sure they arrived. Alone in a corner, he ate a dozen, then another, and then, pausing briefly to let pass a spasm of pain, yet another.

Copyright 2000 Mort Rosenblum. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Hyperion.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...
  • Book Jacket
    Find Me Unafraid
    by Kennedy Odede, Jessica Posner
    With staggering emotional weight and keen awareness of love and humanity even in the darkest places,...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.