Warm recollections to please fellow Francophiles.


A debut memoir about eight months of French culinary delights.

In 2012, food writer and Chicago Magazine features editor McAninch was sent on assignment to Gascony, a fertile agricultural region bordering the Pyrenees in southwest France, to write a piece about duck. Although he had passed through the area on other visits, this time the “card-carrying Francophile” was smitten. Everything about Gascony entranced him: the amazing food, wines, customs, and people, who “seemed more open-minded than their compatriots,” importing from Spain “an easy warmth and boisterousness.” Forgoing trendiness (no nouvelle cuisine here), cooks created “dishes of immense depth from a limited palette of local ingredients that hadn’t expanded in generations.” Following a plot that has now become familiar, McAninch became obsessed, imagining Gascony as “a kind of Brigadoon,” and conceived the idea of writing about a region that he believed had been overlooked in favor of the more picturesque Provence. Soon, he, his wife, and young daughter were installed in an old water mill in the village of Plaisance, where they would experience all the blessings Gascony could offer from May to December. McAninch tells a charming but predictable tale of abundant meals prepared by fabulous cooks in their own kitchens or modest restaurants. The author enrolled in cooking classes and private lessons, practicing his new skills in his rudimentary kitchen. Meals, he writes, “became the organizing principle of our daily life.” Besides garbure (cabbage and white bean soup), poule au pot (chicken in a pot), duck confit, foie gras, seared duck breasts, and cream-filled tarts—recipes included—wine and beer flowed at every event, morning, noon, and night. “Glasses were filled, emptied, and filled again,” could serve as the book’s refrain. As in most such memoirs, the visiting Americans encounter kindly, sometimes-eccentric, always colorful, and voluble characters, such as the taciturn cheese maker who sometimes, but not always, manages to bring his wheels of cheese to market.

Warm recollections to please fellow Francophiles.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-230941-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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