Read A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food by David Downie Online


From the critically acclaimed author of PARIS, PARIS and A PASSION FOR PARIS, comes a delectable culinary history of the gastronomic capital of the world.In his trademark witty and informative style, David Downie embarks on a quest to discover “What is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover’s paradise?” Long before Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eatFrom the critically acclaimed author of PARIS, PARIS and A PASSION FOR PARIS, comes a delectable culinary history of the gastronomic capital of the world.In his trademark witty and informative style, David Downie embarks on a quest to discover “What is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover’s paradise?” Long before Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake!” (actually, it was brioche), the Romans of Paris devoured foie gras, and live oysters rushed in from the Atlantic; one Medieval cookbook describes a thirty-two part meal featuring hare stew, eel soup, and honeyed wine; during the last great banquet at Versailles a year before the Revolution the gourmand Louis XVI savored thirty-two main dishes and sixteen desserts; yet, in 1812, Grimod de la Reynière, the father of French gastronomy, regaled guests with fifty-two courses, fifteen wines, three types of coffee, and seventeen liqueurs.Following the contours of history and the geography of the city, Downie sweeps readers on an insider’s gourmet walking tour of Paris and its environs, revealing the locations of Roman butcher shops, classic Belle Epoque bistros serving diners today and Marie Antoinette’s exquisite vegetable garden that still supplies produce, no longer to the unfortunate queen, but to the legendary Alain Ducasse and his stylish restaurant inside the palace of Versailles. Along the way, readers learn why the rich culinary heritage of France still makes Paris the ultimate arbiter in the world of food....

Title : A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250082930
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food Reviews

  • Jessie
    2019-05-04 12:24

    Read our author interview here:'ve long loved David Downie's books on Paris, for their illumination of a city so many people love. He is a consummate researcher, his books brimming with details I'd never known before, but he's also a storyteller - I can't put his books down. So let me share his new book (as always, I stayed up WAY too late reading it), A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food.A Taste of Paris is that rare book that combines history with an immensely readable style. Think of how Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton brought US history to life - Downie's book does the same, but with a much broader scope (and no music, alas) - that of several thousand years, and a wide range of social, cultural, and gastronomic changes. Dating from c. 53 BC until today, Downie shares the places and spaces, people, and recipes that have influenced food and eating in Paris. Downie names the Ile de la Cite spot ground zero in the "edible and drinkable epic of Paris," he shares architecture, food, wine, history, and more. "...the city of Paris itself grew like an oyster shell, in layers, built from the intermingling of imported styles, merging the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, and so did the culture that produced the often-complicated delicacies and refined nectars Parisians and visitors adore today or prefer to fashionably disdain as unworthy of past greatness."Downie delves into history, detailing important people, ingredients, trends, and more in an interesting, readable way. Everything is included - recipes, menus, restaurants, food writers and critics, chefs, humble and noble food, and more, all written engagingly, as if he was talking to a friend. Not only did I learn a great deal, but I was constantly hungry for perhaps archaic dishes - or the company of someone long passed. Once you read this, you might have to rethink who you would choose for that "invite 3 people from history to dinner" game. You might also, like me, wish to follow in Downie's footsteps, as he purposefully wanders the city of light. You'll love this book, and find yourself getting extra copies for your friends who love food, or France, or both - especially since your copy will be dog-eared and much-read. Highly recommended.

  • Caitlin
    2019-05-15 17:22

    Thank you to St. Martin's Press and David Downie for the free advance copy!!Part travelogue, part history book and part humourless self-aggrandizement, this book purports to take you through the streets of Paris to the best restaurants most evocative of different periods of the city's culinary history.I did not enjoy this book. The pretentiousness bleeds into every page. The author both dismissively belittles those wanting to protect authentic French cuisine with a UNESCO certification AND those who enjoy modern cuisine. At one point he dismisses fusion cuisine entirely with an off-hand line -"Who even remembers fusion?" Within the first few pages the author dismisses and insults "foodies" (and alternatively something called "foodistas") for eschewing actually good food in search of modern, exciting food. Um, hello? How tone deaf can you be - who do you think is buying your book?Some of the historical anecdotes were quite well-done - witty and informative, but the portions dealing with where to go in modern Paris were atrocious. Far from being a "walking tour" as the blurb describes, this book is incomprehensible for anyone not already intimately familiar with the city.First time visitor to Paris? Don't buy this book. Foodie? Don't buy this book.

  • Elatia
    2019-05-20 15:30

    From my amazon review, "It was not by accident that Paris became the world capital of gastronomy. But -- how did it happen? David Downie, who in his marvelous books has walked you all the way around the City of Light, now walks you back in time to her secret history, through the centuries-long saga of how Paris was fed. The logistics are staggering, the characters unforgettable, and the stories of the kind you can dine out for a year on. Reading, you may just feel that gastronomy as we know it in the best Paris restaurants is the tender flower of mighty and continuous labor dating to the deep, deep past. As always, David Downie leads you to see Paris anew, through any lens he crafts for you. Don't miss this one!"Yes -- a really, really good book. But, do I have the cred to review it? I am a chef and writer/editor. I worked in Paris for several months a year for 20 years.Now, I see a few nasty reviews here. When that happens, I check out the credentials of the reviewers, to see if anything they have written previously suggests a background sufficient to make them credible as negative reviewers in this instance. I don't see that background in the negative reviewers here. Which brings me to a philosophical as opposed to personal point -- the one about being very careful what you say to derogate from a writer's years-long, indeed lifelong, efforts, unless your expertise is greater than his, and you can fault-find from a deeply informed perspective. I am anything but certain a negative review on Goodreads is useful to the community if it comes from any other kind of source.

  • Jeanne Grace
    2019-05-13 15:17

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy from Goodreads Giveaway and St. Martin's Press. I was really looking forward to reading this book. It was a immense struggle to read. I was looking forward to the Parisian history of food, however, I got a historic view of Paris with some food thrown in. The history given in this book was amazing and should have been promoted about Paris, but not the solely about the food.

  • Jonell Galloway
    2019-05-01 19:27

    I loved everything about this book: the humor, the insight, the history. Even if you’re not a foodista and you don’t love history, there's no better book to walk you through the culinary evolution of Parisian cuisine, from the Greeks and Romans and Russians to modern day.

  • Kevin
    2019-04-24 19:26

    Thank you to David Downie, St. Martin's Press, and Goodreads for the giveaway copy of A Taste of Paris!At first, reading this made me want to move to Paris, drink wine, and eat. And eat. And eat. Then came the continuous references to famous French figures from history and restaurants that I’d never heard of. I felt like I needed a French-English dictionary, Wikipedia, and Yelp alongside for this read. I ended up reading the last three-quarters of it with a copy of The New Food Lover's Companion next to me so I could look up the names of dishes and terms that I didn't know. I ended up learning a lot about French culture and cooking, but I lost interest in the book early on.Downie is clearly a man with great knowledge of French history and cuisine. He references countless cookbooks and memoirs he has read going back hundreds of years. For the first hundred pages I thought he was an elitist snob. He's really not though--just a guy who is an expert in his subject and has a passion for it. This is a book written for a certain kind of person; a Francophile with a strong background in French cooking and history who has spent time in Paris. I'm convinced that people who fit into that audience would adore this book, but it wasn't for me.

  • Gail
    2019-04-21 20:29

    2.5 Stars. A Taste of Paris looks at the history of food in Paris and Parisian attitudes towards food. The book starts it's history with the Roman conquest of Paris and goes through modern times. Each section gives a brief overview of the bigger moments of the period under discussion and then moves on the the ways the period shaped the eating habits of Paris in the future and where you can see elements of this history in today's Parisian restaurants. I guess I'm more of a historian then a foodie because I found the histories more interesting than the food-restaurant recommendations. Once Downie moved on to talking about the restaurants or food trends that harken back to a certain period I got a little bored. These sections sounded a bit too "tour guide" to me. Still,there are definitely some places that I will want to check out if I'm lucky enough to make it back to Paris. Ie keep this book around for reference.I won this book through a good reads give away.

  • Jessica Miller
    2019-04-24 20:40

    This book is terrifyingly dry and dull. I’m bummed that I paid full price for it.

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-13 19:22

    Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy of A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food in exchange for my honest review.A Taste of Paris follows the history of food in Paris in relation to the geography of the city as well as the famous men and women who made food a priority. Examining the traditions of Parisian people with food as well as their bistros and butcher shops, this book gives the reader a thorough background in Parisian culture and immersion with food.I personally did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would but I think the error was within me and not in the book. I believe that this was a very well written and researched historical account of Paris and its historical connection to food. Again, the issues I had with the book stem from my own insufficient knowledge of Paris and the French language. The book is full of French words, phrases and names: names of foods, names of people, names of restaurants and bistros and names of geographical places, all in French. Well, needless to say I do not have any knowledge of the French language therefore with so many French words, the book became a struggle for me to get though. Another issue I had was that there seemed to be more of a historical background of Paris, the people of Paris and the geographical locations. I was hoping to read more about traditional foods and how they came about. This book is more about the history of Parisians with a link to food than it was about actual food, which the title fully states. I made an assumption that there would be more history of food so it is my fault to be disappointed with this.I think history buffs would enjoy this book and any person who either speaks French or at least has a basic understanding of the pronunciations would be able to get more out of the book. I rate this book 2.5/5 stars, based on my own perception of the book, not on the quality of writing which was good.

  • Lulu
    2019-04-24 15:38

    Downie lays out the history of the French love affair with food, tracing their culinary customs all the way back to Roman times, to the creation of Paris, from primitive table manners (no napkins, no plates, no silverware) to what the French are now known for around the world, their impeccable "art de table" and presentation of dishes, and the relish the French take in eating good food. He talks about the first food writers in France, the eating habits of such kings as the beloved Henri IV and Louis XIV, modern day bistros and restaurants that are worth visiting in Paris (and those that aren't). There's also an interesting section on the number of establishments that serve frozen food, including many of the bakeries' baguettes you'll find in Paris that are frozen and then baked (say it isn't so!) Very interesting read for foodies and Francophiles alike.

  • Sandra Lassiter
    2019-05-02 19:46

    Thinking of heading to Paris or just want to immerse yourself from the comfort of your home? This book is for you. It is full of fascinating history and tidbits about the city of lights. Learn about places, people, and recipes that have influenced Parisian food. Downie wanders through the streets of Paris and takes you along for the trip. The 10 parts follow the order of a meal, from Aperitif to Digestif using history to take you from course to course--a unique way to learn the history of this great city.If you're a Paris buff, you're going to want to read this book. Fascinating history mixed with food--what more could you want?!I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Bookworm
    2019-05-11 20:41

    The Goodreads ratings are right What I thought would be a "culinary history" (as the cover flap says) turned out to be something to be incredibly dull and boring (and perhaps for those more familiar with the history). I had hoped we'd look at food and Paris and perhaps what is the appeal of the food there.  Instead we get an excruciating boring and tedious text about Downie showing off his knowledge. Sometimes it's as dull as a history book, sometimes it's a travelogue, sometimes it seems to be a love letter to the city and its food but really doesn't have much to say. We travel through different time periods, different foods and it seems clear Downie really loves his subject but is perhaps writing for an audience that is just like him: someone who can afford to travel and experience all of this and has had the time/energy/ability to study this topic in depth. It's not an academic text but it's also not what it was purported to be, either. Downie does tend to come across as pretentious and very insular (in the sense that this would only appeal to a particular group of people) and unfortunate the book is just boring. There is more about Paris itself rather than the food. Pictures tend to be of historical note rather than potentially showing off the food in all its glory. Not sure why an editor let this go when it's clearly mis-represented and has pretty poor writing that doesn't even make up for the fact that the book is not what it was marketed to be. It's a pity because it sounded very romantic and I liked histories of "stuff" like food. Skip it.

  • Brie
    2019-05-08 16:28

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads contest.I was unsure of it when I started reading. The style quickly grew on me and I liked the mixture of modern views on food and the historical information. I learned a lot about Parisian food history from thus book. It may not be for everyone but I enjoyed it.

  • Kimberley Lovato
    2019-04-27 16:35

    A literary mille feuille filled with layer upon layer of history, detail, descriptions, sketches, recipes and more. It is as academic as it is entertaining, and an absolute delicacy for lovers of France and food.

  • Janet
    2019-04-26 19:26

    A bit of history in Paris with a flair of a love affair with food. This was a nice story. This was a Goodreads giveaway winner.

  • Jeannine
    2019-04-24 16:41

    Book was very well written. Good history of Parisian food. I'm not really enough of a foodie for this book. Someone who is more of a gourmet than me would probably really enjoy this book.

  • Liz
    2019-04-28 19:38

    I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway and was surprised at how much I liked it! Interesting information and written well.

  • Wendy Kravetz
    2019-05-08 14:19

    Won on Goodreads. Great read! I will pass on for others to read.

  • Emma
    2019-05-06 14:47

    A gourmet walking tour of Paris for all gastronomy and history buffs. Irresistible.David Downie is no stranger for all Paris lovers. A Parisian resident for several decades, you may have bumped into him or visited the city with him, through the custom walking tours he leads. If not, you may have read another of his books. As I enjoyed very much Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, I was thrilled to discover this one. Paris? Food? History? Could there be any better combo?see my full review here:

  • Maureen M
    2019-04-21 20:35

    American expat David Downie has spent decades describing his adopted hometown of Paris. This time, in “A Taste of Paris,” he takes readers on a tour that pairs the city’s physical history with its food. Along the way, he examines the question: Is Paris’ reputation for fine food out of date? With a historian’s zeal and a skeptic’s eye, Downie traverses the city, pointing out Roman ruins and vestiges of medieval ovens. He points out places where some of the world’s first restaurants are still in operation and where hidden gems are tucked around town. His research unearths the earliest menus and cookbooks and dishes up some surprising tidbits. The splendor of Versailles, for example, did not extend to Louis XIV’s dinner table; the Sun King didn’t want his food well-prepared but piled high and symmetrically arranged. And if only the lowly potato had been accepted sooner, the French Revolution might not have happened. Downie introduces the legendary figures who put France at the top of the food pyramid — the food critic Grimod, the saucy chef Escoffier, the Michelin inspectors — with the whiffs of scandal that shadow them. Downie loves his city, but he has no qualms about calling out restaurants that appear to be trading on past glory rather than current quality. Be wary of Michelin stars, he says. And as for those quaint bistros offering traditional French fare, ask the waiter if the fish and frites are fresh or frozen. Or go down the alley yourself and listen for the telltale ding of a microwave.Though Downie disagrees with commentators who say that the fast-food contagion is pushing France’s food and wine into “terminal free fall,” he is concerned. “It’s a wake-up call,” he says.

  • Kerry Pickens
    2019-04-30 14:36

    It is obvious that the author has spent years researching this topic, but unless you are interested in the history of the French royalty (they are only ones that could afford to eat), then you probably don't want to read this book. The part that most interested me was the history of foie gras, which by the way was originally a Jewish dish because of the schmaltz (fat) used in cooking Jewish dishes. If that is too much information for you, then this book is not for you.