BN.com Gift Guide

The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France

Overview

IACP Cookbook Award Winner (Culinary Travel)

Part Grand Tour of France, part history of French cuisine: an irresistible journey, from Paris to Provence, to find “the perfect meal”

An expat Paris resident for more than twenty years, John Baxter began noticing an alarming trend: just as species of plants and animals are rapidly facing extinction globally, so too are the traditional ingredients and techniques of classic French cooking and eating. ...

See more details below
Paperback
$11.18
BN.com price
(Save 25%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (50) from $1.99   
  • New (17) from $3.56   
  • Used (33) from $1.99   
The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price

Overview

IACP Cookbook Award Winner (Culinary Travel)

Part Grand Tour of France, part history of French cuisine: an irresistible journey, from Paris to Provence, to find “the perfect meal”

An expat Paris resident for more than twenty years, John Baxter began noticing an alarming trend: just as species of plants and animals are rapidly facing extinction globally, so too are the traditional ingredients and techniques of classic French cooking and eating. Indeed, he worried that the soul of the world’s most revered national cuisine is in danger of disappearing, as centuries-old ways of cooking, preparation, and farming wither away. Spurred to action, Baxter set off across the country on an unforgettable quest to taste the last great French dishes before they disappear forever—from Paris’s surviving haute cuisine establishments to the tiny local restaurants that still serve the remarkable regional dishes of Provence, Normandy, Cote d’Azur, and more.

Winner of the 2014 IACP Cookbook Award for Culinary Travel

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Confronting the disturbing fact that in 2011, two thirds of French restaurant owners confessed to concocting their meals with "bought, canned, frozen, or boil-in-a-bag portions," John Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World) undertakes a delightful task. He researches, in the broadest sense, the nearly forgotten techniques and ingredients of the classical foods of his adopted country. Baxter, an Australian who now resides in Paris, crisscrosses the literary, historical, and geographical landscape in search of emblematic French foods including roasted ox, bouillabaisse, and ortolans, those tiny birds drowned in Armagnac and eaten whole, with a napkin draped over the diner's head. What emerges from his travels is a spicy, humor-filled accounting of the culinary and literary history of a nation defined by its gastronomy. Baxter touches on the reason French people don't like cake, the poetic rightness of onion soup, what makes the truffle the plutonium of vegetation, and why the French never embraced vegetarianism. "To eat meat, the leaner the better, signifies prosperity," Baxter writes. This is one of those delicious books that tickles the psyche, seduces the senses, and effortlessly enlarges the intellect simultaneously. Baxter skillfully blends what could be considered merely entertaining food trivia into a satisfying full-course meal. (Mar.)
Booklist
“Baxter’s command of French history and culture offers the reader a cornucopia of anecdote and detail worth savoring.”
Los Angeles Times
“We are the beneficiaries of John Baxter’s considerable, vivid love for the expatriate life in Paris.”
Boston Globe
“Reading [John Baxter] is the next best thing to a Paris vacation.”
IACP COOKBOOK AWARDS
Winner - Culinary Travel
Travel & Leisure
"Full of humor, insight, and mouth-watering details, The Perfect Meal is a delightful tour of ‘traditional’ French culture and cuisine."
Shelf Awareness
“A wonderful mix of travel memoir and French culinary history.”
Travel and Leisure
“Full of humor, insight, and mouth-watering details, The Perfect Meal is a delightful tour of ‘traditional’ French culture and cuisine.”
AAA World Magazine
“On a quest to find the soul of traditional French cuisine, John Baxter journeys from Paris to Provence. Along the way, he digs into bowls of bouillabaisse, confiture de vieux garcon and other classics.”
France Today
“A mouthwatering, erudite journey through France’s foodie heritage, some of which might be lost forever without the likes of Baxter recalling and showcasing them for today’s diner.”
Kirkus Reviews
Memoirist and critic Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris, 2011, etc.) chronicles his exploration of France through its cuisine. After an unsatisfying dinner at the Grand Palais, the author wondered what happened to the traditional French cuisine of 50 years ago. Did anyone still know how to roast an ox, and were recipes handed down from generation to generation still remembered? Baxter decided to create a menu for a meal that matched the grandeur of the Grand Palais' architecture, a meal that would be the traditional French repas that UNESCO thought worthy of preserving. The food was to be served in several courses, and Baxter sampled and critiqued the liquor to be served at the aperitif with the same rigor and attention with which he selected the food. He began the quest with a stack of old menus he found in a flea market, then he traveled to different parts of Paris to sample the traditional dishes. He first went to Illiers to find the madeleine cookie that inspired Marcel Proust. He then traveled to Périgord to find truffle mushrooms and to Sète to taste bouillabaisse. Baxter's narrative is mostly engaging, though his tangents about French culture and the people he met during his journey are more interesting than his thoughts on food. The author also sprinkles historical stories throughout the book--e.g., the story of the chef Francois Vatel, who committed suicide during a visit from King Louis XIV. The section on how different types of coffee took hold in different countries is fascinating as well. In the end, Baxter compiled a menu to serve to his family and friends. There was no actual feast, however, which feels like a letdown after 350 pages about his hunt. A fun read for Francophiles, but lacks cohesiveness.
Library Journal
Australian émigré Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World), travels across France to create the ideal banquet using the country's "lost" dishes. What follows is a disarmingly whimsical stroll through the French landscape and the parameters of a meal—aperitif, starter/canapés, entrée, fish, meat, poultry, cheeses, dessert, coffee and sweetmeats, and digestif—that combines an immense amount of history and information with deft writing. Baxter explores the stories behind ingredients, names, and traditions—what defines an aperitif (and how one might be judged by one's choice), why and when cream was first added to coffee, and how bouillabaisse, fondant, and socca were first created—without the information ever feeling trivial. VERDICT The most valuable (and equally endangered) tradition restored by Baxter is the oral one. Local characters, friends, chefs, and enthusiasts enliven his quest and reveal each element in the evolution of the menu to be part of a collective cognitive lineage. A must read for foodies, Francophiles, and armchair travelers.—Benjamin Malczewski, Ypsilanti District Lib., MI
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062088062
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Series: P.S.
  • Pages: 382
  • Sales rank: 205,206
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 6.98 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

John Baxter has lived in Paris for more than twenty years. He is the author of four acclaimed memoirs about his life in France: The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France; The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris; Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas; and We'll Always Have Paris: Sex and Love in the City of Light. Baxter, who gives literary walking tours through Paris, is also a film critic and biographer whose subjects have included the directors Fellini, Kubrick, Woody Allen, and most recently, Josef von Sternberg. Born in Australia, he lives with his wife and daughter in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, in the same building Sylvia Beach called home.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)