"To see and taste and smell all this wonderful food was so heartening to me, I felt I had arrived in heaven," says James Haller in Vie de France. He's referring to the marketplace in the Loire Valley town of Savennieres, but his response encapsulates his "food encounter" during a month-long vacation he and friends took to the small community, where they rented a charming 17th-century house. The diarylike book details the trip and, in daily menus, the food Haller cooked--delightful country dishes like Sausage and Red Wine Ragout, Sorrel and Spinach Salad, and Green Plum Custard Tart. Though not presented in recipe form, the meals nonetheless receive sufficient description to whet appetites and encourage cooking.
An ex-chef/restaurateur, Haller, in his early 60s, was looking for the next thing to do, and the house and his diary-keeping provided a necessary break that eventually led to a full-time writing commitment, of which this book is a result. His journey from fearfulness about the outcome of a spur-of-the-moment plan to relaxation and revelation in the French countryside is gratifying. Readers follow the process, joining Haller and company as they discover town butchers where meat is cut to order, supermarkets with multiple cheese aisles, local chateaux, and more while experiencing some of the predictable crosscultural contretemps. Though narratively thin, and lacking the exploration of self and others necessary to paint a penetrating picture, the book manages nonetheless to convey the culinary life and spirit of flower-saturated Savennieres. --Arthur Boehm
This delightful book brings you to a place many of us want to be- in a lovely house nestled in a charming village, amongst good friends and family, sharing wonderful food and wine. Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2002 by BKK Blonde
I just finished reading it and I was charmed. The book, a day by day description of a monthlong visit to the Loire Valley, is funny, interesting, touching and hopeful. Read morePublished on June 25 2002 by Mara Bannard