Studying abroad in London, Bard attends a conference where she meets a Frenchman named Gwendal, with whom she begins a friendship with. After a few month’s correspondence she decides to travel to Paris for the weekend to see him. That weekend begins a relationship that she’ll never forget, with Gwendal, Paris, and French cuisine. Lunch in Paris is Elizabeth Bard’s memoir of how her life changed for better or for worse after that weekend trip to Paris.
This is one of the most delicious memoirs I’ve ever read, literally. The novel is a journey of love, discovery, and food! The recipes at the end of each chapter were a beautiful touch, adding to the readers’ ability to take this journey with Bard. As someone who loves to cook I was delighted to follow along on Bard’s journey and be able to recreate the special dishes that become important parts of her life. I’ve made a PDF copy of all of the recipes in the book to add to my collection of collected recipes. I’m eagerly awaiting a long weekend home to try them out and get a sense of some French home cooking! (I really have my eye on the stuffed eggplants!!)
One of the most fascinating and surprising parts of the novel for me was reading about the difference between American dreams vs. French dreams. I know that last sentence is confusing, so let me explain. Bard explains how when her husband was growing up and was in school, he was taught that he couldn’t “dream big” as we Americans do. Growing up in America you’re told that you can do/be anything you want to be. No career is unreachable. It’s the complete opposite in France. Children are not taught to reach for the sky, rather they’re taught to focus on something tangible. I was fascinated that I would get hit with that big of a culture shock just by reading this novel. It added to the depth of the memoir in a surprisingly pleasing way.
Bard is a fantastic writer, one that gets the reader involved and excited to continue reading her story. She is able to write about her fears, desires, and happiness with examples that the reader can relate too, which only increases the pleasure found in reading this novel. There is much to love here, between Bard’s story and her recipes; I can’t recommend it highly enough.
5 out of 5 Stars