Rossant (Return to Paris, 2003, etc.) concludes her trilogy of memoirs with this mouthwatering reminiscence of marriage and her stellar epicurean career.
In 1955, the author and her husband left France for New York. For Rossant, moving to America meant, foremost, the discovery of new food, starting with an ice-cream sundae. She’d read about this “mountain of ice cream” in French reporters’ accounts of America, but had never tasted one. Baked potatoes and bagels quickly became favorites as well. She missed lunching on a baguette stuffed with ham, but made do with cream cheese on walnut bread from Chock Full ’o Nuts. Broccoli took some getting used to: “It looked like a small tree, and tasted somewhat like cabbage . . . too bland.” Indeed, American vegetables were generally a problem. String beans seemed a wholly different species than the haricots verts Rossant had enjoyed in France. Iceberg lettuce was . . . well, barely lettuce. She also found American packaged food tricky; making her first attempt with a cake mix, she baked the icing and used the cake powder as glaze. While navigating American cuisine, Rossant had children and a series of jobs, including writing for a French-language newspaper and teaching French at Hofstra Univ., where she met Alice Trillin. After Trillin’s husband Calvin praised Rossant’s cooking in his book Alice, Let’s Eat, she was invited to write for Vogue and other magazines. Around the same time, she presided over a cooking club formed by her daughter Juliette, then in fifth grade. The club quickly grew into a series of children’s cooking classes, the classes spawned a TV show, and the TV show led to a book contract for a children’s cookbook. Rossant’s breathless yet humble descriptions of her cooking and her vocational success are great fun to read. Scrumptious-sounding recipes (goose neck pâté, poached pears with caramel, apple mousse) conclude each chapter.
Delectable: Bon appetit!