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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France » User review

The anatomy of collapse

  • May 17, 2009
Rating:
+3
I readily admit I have a "Masterpiece Theater" fantasy vision of what it would be like to live in the UK -- one that all too often is brought crashing back to earth by just about any update on what conditions are like in that over-surveilled, over-managed benighted isle. Those of us who have similar visions about France and daydream about escaping to Paris or Provence and reveling in the food and wine and joie de vivre are about to get smacked down again by this quite revealing book by Michael Sternberger. "Au Revoir to All That" is very good food writing, but it could be filed just as easily as a cultural-sociological study or even (perhaps surprisingly) as an endictment of the French culture of entitlement and socialist bureaucratism. I certainly wasn't expecting that last element, though it's really an essential element of any analysis of modern France. On the whole, it is, pardon the food metaphor, a remarkably well-balanced recipe.

Michael Steinberger is a skilled interviewer and reporter, and so does a good job identifying key trends and influential personalities. This is a book that could, and probably should, be read with profit by most any foodie and/or fan of the French people and culture. There's a lot in here that may be hard to face, and there is probably a lot more to disagree with in here than I, a relatively uninformed reader about a lot of this, could recognize. But there's no question that there are important issues here to address and implications to ponder. "Au Revoir to All That" is certainly worth the time such pondering would require. Especially with a bottle of French (or Washington) wine by your side.

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Andrew S. Rogers ()
Ranked #362
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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“[Au Revoir to All That] is an eye-opening, well-researched and amusingly written, reliable guide to the contemporary cooking scene in France, and it's to be hoped that French chefs somewhere will pay attention to Steinberger's neat formulation of the question – ‘Which way forward for French cuisine?’” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
"A culinary expedition through France hunting for the root of the slow decline of the country’s acclaimed food and wine traditions... Steinberger’s meticulous research and personal hunger for objective truths bring surprising discoveries to light... connected to the larger issue of who or what defines modern France and, by extension, its food. An offering of fresh and engaging insights for foodies and Francophiles alike."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"For anyone who cares about food, wine, or France... Au Revoir To All That is required reading. Steinberger has done remarkably thorough research to detail just what has gone wrong in French gastronomy. Drawing on astonishing tidbits like the identity of France's largest private sector employer (McDonald's), Steinberger convincingly explains why so many of its greatest chefs have grown complacent, its greatest gastronomic guide so off-track, and its winemakers just plain broke. In spite of all the bad news, the book is a ripping fun read and is even a little optimistic, as Steinberger points out a few key men and women bucking the trends." ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 1596913533
ISBN-13: 978-1596913530
Author: Michael Steinberger
Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
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