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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Happiness belongs to the self sufficient

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

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.