PICNIC IN PROVENCE by Elizabeth Bard


A Memoir with Recipes
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A journalist’s account of the unexpectedly rich life she and her French husband made together after leaving Paris for a small town in southern France.

When a very pregnant Bard (Lunch in Paris, 2010) and her husband, Gwendal, visited Céreste, it was to see the village that had been home to a French poet and Resistance leader named René Char. After they chatted with the daughter of Char’s wartime lover, they discovered that her family was about to sell the house where the poet had lived. The pair bought the house on impulse the next day, certain only of the fact that Céreste was “where [they] would become a family.” A neighbor's move-in gift of a basketful of homegrown vegetables became the symbol of what would quickly become the couple’s organizing principle: food. Not only was it something that, in all its delicious Provençal variety, was one of Bard’s “central pleasures.” It was also the way she would continue to forge an identity for herself apart from her Brooklyn-born mother and her American supermarket tastes. Through sharing recipes—many of which she includes in this book, as in her previous book—Bard negotiated and built relationships with her French friends and extended family. When she realized that pain from her own childhood was preventing her from bonding with her son, cooking with her child became the way she repaired the rift between them and healed her own heart. Gwendal also found his own salvation in food. Faced with a decision to rejoin the corporate world and become an unhappy “cog in the wheel,” he decided instead to open an artisanal ice cream shop with his wife. Like the Provençal food and lifestyle it celebrates, Bard’s book is one to be savored slowly and with care.

Delectable reading.

Pub Date: April 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-316-24616-3
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2015


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