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Friday, October 2, 2009

REVIEW OF THE MONTH: AU REVOIR TO ALL THAT; food, wine and the end of France (Doubleday

1. AU REVOIR TO ALL THAT; food, wine and the end of France (Doubleday
Canada, 2009, 243 pages, ISBN 978-0-385-66472-1, $32.95 US hard covers)
is by Michael Steinberger, the wine columnist for Slate and a
contributing writer to the Financial Times. He writes extensively about
economics and culture. Six big log rollers kick in, including Jay
McInerney and Kermit Lynch. His main points are that France no longer
has influential chefs, that bistros are rapidly closing (like pubs in
the UK), coffee stinks, the wine industry is in crisis, artisanal
cheeses are close to extinction, and French eating habits have
drastically changed. How else to explain that France is the second-
most-profitable market on the planet for McDonald's? Steinberger does
some interviewing and deep research, and comes up with several
conclusions and impressions for the future. I'm not going to tell you
what these are: read the book and be surprised.
There's a bibliography about French culture and its "economic crisis".
And a concluding index, which makes retrieval of his data possible.
Audience and level of use: food lovers who have been disappointed on
their latest trips to France.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: "Twenty-five years ago it
was hard to have a bad meal in France; now, in some cities and towns,
it is a challenge to find a good one."
The downside to this book: I would have liked more details about
France's decline. For instance, there is nothing about the intrusion of
the supermarket, known as "la grande surface" when I was there.
The upside to this book: what makes this book so useful is the index.
Quality/Price Rating: 92.

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