Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Author: Amy Thomas
Genre: Food, memoir
Publisher: Sourcebooks, 2012
Read for: Fun, Mixing it up Challenge
A lover of desserts, when Amy Thomas is offered a job in Paris, she feels as if she should be jumping at the chance. She's already visited multiple times, including what she calls her "tour de chocolat," an excursion when she planned out the best chocolatiers in the city along a bike route. However, she is in love with her home in New York as well. As you can probably tell from the title, she chooses to take the job in Paris and has a bittersweet -- but mostly sweet -- experience there.
There were things I adored about this book and things that were mediocre for me. I like to end on a positive note, so let's start with the aspect that didn't quite work for me. Throughout the book, Amy is having a conflict of Paris vs. New York that translates into some other life decisions as well, such as her status as a single woman as her friends get married and begin their families. She tried to connect these emotions and experiences with specific desserts. I really love the idea -- as a devoted food-lover myself, I know how much emotion can be tied to different foods -- but it didn't quite work for me. Some of the comparisons seemed strained, trying too hard to make a connection. I did enjoy reading about what Amy went through -- I think traveling can cause a reevaluation of priorities because the world is being seen through a new lens (whatever Emerson might think). When I lived in Paris I had my own bouts of insecurities and sadness. Living in a foreign country is hard, no matter how wonderful that foreign country is. Basically, I enjoyed both parts of the story, but at times it seemed as if the author were trying too hard to connect them together.
As far as the food goes, it was sheer, unadulterated delight. I absolutely loved reading the descriptions of deliriously good desserts in both Paris and New York. I highlighted countless patisseries and dessert bars, being sure of course to include the recommended treat. I had only visited a few of the locations Amy mentioned in Paris, and now I am determined to return and try more (for the record, I am a Laduree person. She doesn't pick a side, but it sounded to me as if she were a Pierre Herme. But that's okay).
In a nutshell, I enjoyed this book, especially the descriptions of food. While at times the structure seemed a bit contrived, it was an enjoyable read, and will certainly appeal to all travelers and gourmands.
Warnings: Brief strong language