Tuesday, March 25, 2014

French Lessons by Peter Mayle

I never thought that French cuisine and Singaporean cuisine could have anything in common, but now that I've read this book I think I found one point: both cultures will eat anything. Frogs? Check (frog porridge is really good); snails? sorta-Check (we eat sea-snails, those do count right?). We even have fish head curry. Peter Mayle should totally come to Singapore and do a food tour.

French Lessons isn't about learning French (although considering how entertainingly Peter Mayle writes, he could write a French textbook and I will probably chuckle through it), it's about eating your way through France. It's not a comprehensive guide (in fact, he writes about missing a festival in the book).

In this book, he talks about French chicken, escargot, frogs, and he makes it all sound so good. My favourite festival was probably the slow marathon through the vineyards, because that seems like my kind of exercise. Slow. Another section I liked immensely would be when he and his wife checked into a detox center. It sounds so relaxing yet healthy (so it's win-win!).

Like A Year in Provence (link leads to my review), Peter Mayle writes entertainingly and fondly about France. The only difference is that this is focused on food and covers a wider area of France. He really does seem fond of the country and the way he makes you write made me want to visit.

And yet, he doesn't see France through entirely rose-tinted glasses (perhaps it's only slightly tinted, and only when it comes to food). He writes about a few of his French friends who are pompous and too-smug about their own culture. It's entertaining, but it's not exactly flattering. It's sections like these though, that make me believe what he says, because he seems to be telling the truth.

I believe the book that I haven't read yet is A Dog's Life (wait, have I read it? Or did I just read that one excerpt?) and after reading this, I really have to go and search for a copy.

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