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Book Group: A Taste of Paris, by David Downie
March 1, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
The Slow Food Russian River Book Group will be discussing A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food, by David Downie (St. Martin’s Press, September 26, 2017)
The Book Group meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 – 9pm in Sebastopol. It’s a convivial dinner. Please bring a dish for four and a beverage.
To be a member of the Book Group you don’t need to be a member of Slow Food, although – of course – we hope that with time you will become one.
About David Downie
David D. Downie (born 1958 in San Francisco) is a multilingual Paris-based American nonfiction author, crime novelist and journalist who writes most often about culture, food and travel.
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Downie took a master’s degree in Italian from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was a Kenyon Scholar and University Fellow. After working in the early 1980s as a translator, interpreter and press officer in Milan, he moved to Paris. His writing reflects an abiding interest in French and Italian culture, politics, food and language.
His articles have appeared in about 50 publications, print and online, including The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Gastronomica, The Art of Eating, Australian Financial Review, Salon.com, Epicurious.com and Concierge.com. He has acted as Paris correspondent, contributing editor or European editor for a number of publications, including Appellation, Art & Antiques and Departures. His writing has also appeared in anthologies, among them The Collected Traveler volumes on Paris, Southwest France and Central Italy. More…
Publishers Blurb of A Taste of Paris, by David Downie
A Taste of Paris is a delectable culinary history of the gastronomic capital of the world, written by David Downie, the critically acclaimed author of Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light and A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light.
In his trademark witty and informative style, David Downie embarks on a quest to discover “What is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover’s paradise?” Long before Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake!” (actually, it was brioche), the Romans of Paris devoured foie gras, and live oysters rushed in from the Atlantic; one Medieval cookbook describes a thirty-two part meal featuring hare stew, eel soup, and honeyed wine; during the last great banquet at Versailles a year before the Revolution the gourmand Louis XVI savored thirty-two main dishes and sixteen desserts; yet, in 1812, Grimod de la Reynière, the father of French gastronomy, regaled guests with fifty-two courses, fifteen wines, three types of coffee, and seventeen liqueurs.
Following the contours of history and the geography of the city, Downie sweeps readers on an insider’s gourmet walking tour of Paris and its environs in A Taste of Paris, revealing the locations of Roman butcher shops, classic Belle Epoque bistros serving diners today and Marie Antoinette’s exquisite vegetable garden that still supplies produce, no longer to the unfortunate queen, but to the legendary Alain Ducasse and his stylish restaurant inside the palace of Versailles. Along the way, readers learn why the rich culinary heritage of France still makes Paris the ultimate arbiter in the world of food.
Margaret Quamme reviews in Booklist
Starting with the years during which the Romans dominated the little town that would grow into Paris, he moves through the ages, lingering affectionately in the eighteenth century and tossing in literary references as well as more strictly food-related ones. While Downie may not be temperamentally suited for writing a strictly chronological history, most readers will enjoy his free associative jumps into seemingly unrelated areas of French history and life, and no one will mistake his love for his adopted country. Booklist, August 1, 2017, Vol.113(22), p.16(1)
THE SALT – NPR
‘A Taste Of Paris’: How The City Of Light Became The City Of Food
November 8, 2017 • In his new book, food historian David Downie takes readers on a gourmet jaunt through time to reveal how the French capital became a gastronomic powerhouse. (Hint: You can thank Rome.) Listen…
“I’ve long loved [David Downie’s] books on Paris, for their illumination of a city so many people love. He is a consummate researcher, his books brimming with details I’d never known before, but he’s also a storyteller – I can’t put his books down. So let me share his new book (as always, I stayed up WAY too late reading it), A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food. More…
Miranda Seymour, France’s Love Affair With Food, New York Times, Feb 2, 2018
In a book that skillfully combines culinary history with reports from some of the city’s most tasteful arrondissements,[David Downie] adopts the conceit of a historian’s walking tour, conflating past with present in gorgeous style. More…
The author … offers capsule reviews—not always favorable—of some of Paris’ 10,000 restaurants. He is not a fan of pretension, noise, corporate ownership, stratospheric prices, or what he calls “karaoke cuisine,” characterized by “industrial sauce,” microwaved entrees, “multiple courses for under $20,” and “pink and familiar decor.” His disdain is especially harsh regarding “super-bobo” eateries with “could-be-anywhere cooking.” More…