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Garlic, Mint, and Sweet Basil: Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction Paperback – May 7 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (May 7 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609451155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609451158
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #572,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Praise for Jean-Claude Izzo

"A real delight."
—Andrea Camilleri, author of the bestselling Inspector Montalbano series

"[Izzo's] essays...reveal a man of deep feeling and humanity."
The Guardian

“What makes Izzo’s work haunting is his extraordinary ability to convey the tastes and smells of Marseilles.”
The New Yorker

"Mr. Izzo was a marvelous food writer...His books are filled with winning descriptions of Provencal meals run through with the flavors of north Africa, Italy, Greece."
—Sam Sifton, The New York Times

“Just as Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy made Los Angeles their very own, so Mr. Izzo has made Marseilles so much more than just another geographical setting.”
The Economist

"In Izzo's books...Marseilles is a 'ville selon nos coeur,' a city in tune with our heart...A cosmopolitan, maritime city, greedy, sensual and warm."
—Michel Samson, Slow Food

“Our last true romantic, Jean-Claude Izzo transmits warmth to his readers, as if granting them a mouthful of pure love.”
Le Point (France)

About the Author

Jean-Claude Izzo was born in Marseilles, France, in 1945. He achieved astounding success with his Marseilles Trilogy (Total Chaos, Chourmo, Solea). In addition to the books in this trilogy, his two novels (The Lost Saliors, and A Sun for the Dying) and one collection of short stories (Vivre fatigue) also enjoy great success with both critics and the public. Izzo died in 2000 at the age of fifty-five.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0fcb21c) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0ad9e64) out of 5 stars Wonderful Nov. 11 2013
By Howard S. Stein - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am really surprised to find I am the first reviewer. This is a terrific book. I bought it because Izzo is a wonderful writer; his trilogy is a great story and his other works are also very worthwhile. Note however, that his books all show great affection for Marseilles and the Mediteranian coast. This book is an homage to that same area, and it resonates, also, in its recognition that the south coast of Europe and the north coast of Africa are closely related. After I -- a noir mystery and police procedural reader -- gave the book with a recommendation to my 28 year old son -- a world traveler and broad topic and style reader -- he was unusually enthusiastic about it. I whole heartedly recommend this book, but I don't fit it into any one category of interest.
HASH(0xa0cf6078) out of 5 stars Izzo's love letters to hometown Marseille Oct. 9 2015
By Merrily Baird - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Garlic, Mint & Sweet Basil: Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction" brings together 16 brief meditations written by the late Jean-Claude Izzo, a celebrated mystery writer and an expert regarding the cuisine of his Marseille hometown. Two themes dominate the collection.

In the first instance, Izzo is at pains to drive home the Mediterranean character of his hometown. Marseille, the second largest city in France, may indeed be the capital of the region known as Provence-Alpes, Cote d'Azur, but Izzo insists that the city, its cuisine, and its very identity should not be confused with those of Provence or France more generally. Instead, it should be understood as a city largely composed of residents, like Izzo himself, who are of mixed cultural heritage and have something of a sense of otherness even in their hometown. At the same time, he passionately argues, the character of Marseille is uniquely shaped by the many nations in Europe and Africa that rim the Mediterranean Sea to both the north and south.

The secondary theme that weaves its way through the essays, especially when Izzo writes of either culinary matters or the pleasures of experiencing the sea, is what he terms "the intoxication of living." This, he says in the essay titled "Here, My Darling, Taste This," was invented in Marseille. In his book "God in Search of Man," the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that "our goal should be to live life in radical amazement...Everything is phenomenal...To be spiritual is to be amazed." By this standard, the Marseille-loving Izzo was indeed spiritual and herein lies the charm of this slim volume of essays.

And, of course, a portion of this volume is devoted to discussing the literary movement--Medierranean noir--that Izzo is credited with developing. One essay provides a sweeping view of the "noir" ("dark") current in Mediterranean literature, while the concluding section of the book reprints a four-page piece of fiction concerning Fabio Montale, the fictional detective of Izzo's "Marseille Trilogy." Finally, Izzo assesses Montale and lists the detective's favorite places, music, and books.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0ee8690) out of 5 stars Smell and Taste in the second largest city of France Sept. 8 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Takes you to Marseilles and gives you the smell taste feel and history of the place. It's like taking a vacation without leaving the house, and also brings you right into a time when cafe culture formed neighborhood solidarity among many different cultures.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0cf0a38) out of 5 stars A slim volume of not-so-interesting essays on Marseilles May 5 2015
By Lola Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is more a series of short essays written with nostalgia for his hometown of Marseilles. I did not find them particularly moving or interesting. The author (deceased in 2000) was distressed about the situation in Marseilles (political and cultural) and with good reason; he would be even more distressed if he saw it today. Many people keep pressuring the French to be "reasonable" and "tolerant" but how about the other groups? Do the same expectations and rules apply to them? I might read his other "Mediterranean Noir" books but so far I'm not that inspired by him.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0dfe1f8) out of 5 stars Noir Background April 17 2015
By filho da noite - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you're interested in the background of landscapes and histories that inform Izzo's Mediterranean noir classics, this book of essays is a fine addition to your library.