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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Happy memoirs are hard to find these days, making this charming, long-out-of-print title even more welcome. It has been republished as part of the new Modern Library Food Series with an introduction by Jeffrey Steingarten.
Clémentine in the Kitchen tells of the gastronomic adventures of the Beck family (a.k.a. the Chamberlains) and their happy expatriate years in the French cathedral town of Senlis in the 1930s. The Becks, enthusiastic converts to the French obsession with food, achieved true nirvana with the arrival of their new cook, Clémentine.
As war clouds darkened, however, the Becks were called home on very short notice, with no time even to pack their books, photos, and furniture. Indeed, they only had time to gather their clothing, Clémentine, and her batterie de cuisine -- the whisks, the copper pots, and the cookbooks.
While the first half of this story concerns the education of the Becks into the ways of the French table, the second relates the education of Clémentine into the ways of a small New England hill town. With her minimal English, Clémentine initially struggles with quarts, pints, and ready mixes, as well as the scarcity of good French cheese and a "deep lack of understanding" with the butcher.
Illustrated by the author, this engaging memoir captures an enviable time, place, and way of life. In addition, there are 150 recipes from Clémentine's own notebooks, all classics of la cuisine de bonne femme: Omelette aux Fines Herbes, Pot-au-Feu, Tarte aux Fraises, and many more. (Ginger Curwen)