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With fork in hand, wine critic Steinberger sets out on a culinary fact finding tour de France. From the vineyards that once boasted the wines most prized by oenophiles, through the local fruitières, and into the legendary bistros and brasseries smiled upon by Bibendum, he examines why the golden age of French gourmandism might now be more realistically represented by the golden arches. With each mouthful of truffle-basted lobe of duck liver and praline mille feuille, he gives us the gloomy evidence of the effects of globalization, economic hard times, bureaucracy, and the creativity of new world chefs on the toque-headed gastronomes that once ruled the world.
Amusing and informative book for anyone that thinks cook books are literature -- and a must for Francophiles. You may like hearing that America is finally vindicated...to know that McDonald's didn't slip into the country like a trojan horse and destroy the culture and history of French dining; or knowing, it wasn't a case of an *unrefined palate* -- the cheeses really aren't the same. The history of the French dining culture is illuminative, as is the information about the Machiavellian power the Michelin guide wields. With the best wines now coming from America, the best dining experiences in London, the best chefs in Spain, and the best French food coming out of Japan...Steinberger still holds out some optimism and hope that France can once again find their mojo.
Whether you side with those appalled that the golden arches now serve burgers in the food court at the Louvre, or the weightier side, those that can now afford to visit France and eat...the fact that you have one of those opinions hints you'll enjoy this book.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Au Revoir to All That?
The insights I gained into the decline of France's leadership role in food and wine and some of the reasons for it, most of which I wouldn't have guessed at. It's a great bridge to cross from the idea of France we have as the world leader in food and wine compared to today.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Au Revoir to All That?
The influence (and later decline in influence) of the Michelin Guide -- mainly because the author covered it a few times too often. :) It was also interesting to get insight into the people behind the names we've come to recognize (Paul Bocuse, et al.).
Have you listened to any of Stephen McLaughlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
The narrator was excellent. In fact, I could change the speed to 1.25 or 1.5 and still follow it beautifully -- a first.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
The best France we know exists in our minds and is already gone.
Any additional comments?
I'm glad I read this. The price is an absolute bargain. It's definitely changed my outlook and understanding of a world I thought I knew but had perhaps romanticized.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
A depressing diatribe by a jolted Francophile deceived by their own infatuation of what France never was.
The humour in the book is as wincingly observed as watching tv rerun of funny a home video accidents where you can see what will happen but where the individual injures themselves in a way that the audience shares the pain.
Despite this and the dreary tone of the narrator, it is an interesting comparison of the authors squinted memory compared with the present days' stark realities. It also tracks the changes of culinary life through the eyes of the authors own social changes.
If it's the food that interests you, the reflections described are less about the recipes and more about the cooks intentions and commercial directions. If you are less bothered about todays celebrity chefs of the world but more about how they are connected to origins from yester-years unknowns then parts of this book may be of interest.
It was an effort to listen to and didn't inspire me to 'turn the page' (or press play!).
Not for the downhearted.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful