The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

By Justin Spring
Read by Bronson Pinchot

15.51 Hours 10/10/2017 unabridged
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A biography of six writers on food and wine whose lives and careers intersected in mid-twentieth-century France During les trente glorieuses―a thirty-year boom period in France between the end of World War II and the 1974 oil crisis―Paris was not only the world’s most delicious, stylish, and exciting tourist destination; it was also the world capital of gastronomic genius and innovation. The Gourmands’ Way explores the lives and writings of six Americans who chronicled the food and wine of “the glorious thirty,” paying particular attention to their individual struggles as writers, to their life circumstances, and, ultimately, to their particular genius at sharing awareness of French food with mainstream American readers. In doing so, this group biography also tells the story of an era when America adored all things French. The group is comprised of the war correspondent A. J. Liebling; Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein’s life partner, who reinvented herself at seventy as a cookbook author; M. F. K. Fisher, a sensualist and fabulist storyteller; Julia Child, a television celebrity and cookbook author; Alexis Lichine, an ambitious wine merchant; and Richard Olney, a reclusive artist who reluctantly evolved into a brilliant writer on French food and wine. Together, these writer-adventurers initiated an American cultural dialogue on food that has continued to this day. Justin Spring’s The Gourmands’ Way is the first book ever to look at them as a group and to specifically chronicle their Paris experiences.

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Summary

Summary

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017

A Vulture.com Pick for October

A biography of six writers on food and wine whose lives and careers intersected in mid-twentieth-century France

During les trente glorieuses―a thirty-year boom period in France between the end of World War II and the 1974 oil crisis―Paris was not only the world’s most delicious, stylish, and exciting tourist destination; it was also the world capital of gastronomic genius and innovation. The Gourmands’ Way explores the lives and writings of six Americans who chronicled the food and wine of “the glorious thirty,” paying particular attention to their individual struggles as writers, to their life circumstances, and, ultimately, to their particular genius at sharing awareness of French food with mainstream American readers. In doing so, this group biography also tells the story of an era when America adored all things French. The group is comprised of the war correspondent A. J. Liebling; Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein’s life partner, who reinvented herself at seventy as a cookbook author; M. F. K. Fisher, a sensualist and fabulist storyteller; Julia Child, a television celebrity and cookbook author; Alexis Lichine, an ambitious wine merchant; and Richard Olney, a reclusive artist who reluctantly evolved into a brilliant writer on French food and wine.

Together, these writer-adventurers initiated an American cultural dialogue on food that has continued to this day. Justin Spring’s The Gourmands’ Way is the first book ever to look at them as a group and to specifically chronicle their Paris experiences.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Spring’s book is a wonderful culinary history.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[Spring] has packed an enormous amount of material into this book, which is erudite, gossipy, entertaining, and eminently readable.” Wall Street Journal
“An entirely new perspective on a group of people we thought we knew….[from a] biographer who seems to have left no diary unopened, no letter unread, no manuscript unscrutinized.” New York Times Book Review
“Clear, confident, witty prose supported by robust research carries the day in this absorbing work.” Christian Science Monitor
“The broad outline of Spring’s thesis is so persuasive, the details so evocative), that anyone interested in the evolution of cooking in America will find The Gourmands’ Way informative and indispensable.” Boston Globe
“Spring’s book is both a critical and highly entertaining chronicle…Spring brings each of his six subjects (as well as a fair share of colorful side characters who orbit them) to life with psychological insight and a sharp focus on historical context, backing up his findings with meticulous, near-forensic research.” Slate
“A stunning account of six eclectic, electric personalities…It is fascinating to read how these six figures discovered French food, wine, and cooking and how each developed a specialty and then brought that knowledge to a public eager to read about it all…[The Gourmands’ Way is] a literary meal both luscious and lively—and essential to understanding our vacillating love affair with the French.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An entertaining look at a half-dozen American writers and enthusiastic eaters…Spring juggles all six of his subjects’ stories ably, treating them with affection while dispensing criticism where appropriate.” Booklist
“A well-crafted and entertaining book in which readers will constantly find something new to think about or discuss, particularly at the dinner table.” Library Journal
“So different and yet so similar, these heroes of mine—writers, gourmands and adventurers who were passionately curious about French cuisine, wines, and lifestyle—immersed themselves in the culinary culture of Paris. Their writing had a transformational impact in the US and initiated the American gastronomic revolution that began in the 70s.” Jacques Pépin, multi-award-winning chef, television personality, and author
“A brilliant, informative, and entertaining study…The charm of Justin Spring’s book comes from the light touch with which he brings to life the literary and political background of the postwar years in France, his impeccable knowledge of all things culinary, and his talent for ferreting out the most telling and amusing anecdotes.” Ankha Muhlstein, author of Balzac’s Omelette

Reviews

Reviews

by Odin 8/28/2018
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

A rousing temptation for the palate of tasteful cuisine.

This is a most unusual book, in that it lays out a sort of biography of 6 Americans and their ventures in Paris cuisine and culture. As the group encounter their gastronomic experiences, we are given a tour d force of French culture, food and wine. Of particular interest to many will be the evolution of Julia Child’s career as an expert cook and innovator of recipes and dining like an elitist on a homemaker’s budget. Altogether, listening to this book will give you both an entertaining excursion of Paris its reputation for fine food and wine, but also get to know the 6 who share their experiences. Recommended for any and all who appreciate “taste.”

Author

Author Bio: Justin Spring

Justin Spring is a writer specializing in twentieth-century American art and culture and the author of many monographs, catalogs, museum publications, and books, including Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade; Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art; and Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 15.51
Audience: Adult
Language: English