Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A heavy handed, long subtitle gives this book the task of climbing a thesis worthy peak ("the reinvention of American taste", wow) which it never quite makes (this seems to be problematic lately, as if pop nonfiction has something to prove). I probably would have put this book aside at some point quite frankly except the writing is exquisite and sumptuous. Barr can certainly write food, but he also brought this long ago month of December 1970 and these famous people to life. You can smell the food they are cooking, you are sitting in the kitchen watching them cook, hearing the wine bottle pop open, the clink of glasses, laughter, the smell of cigarette smoke. The clenching of teeth and heavy sighs as some of the frenemies are forced to deal with each other in the most genteel dinner party of ways. The Childs area always a great study (in nonfiction and film), but Barr makes sure the other characters are equally interesting and well drawn. I'd recommend this on those merits, but don't expect a Eureka moment regarding the subtitle.
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