Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking French
At Home In France: Eating and Entertaining with the French
Published: July 1, 2000
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If you've been to France and sampled the legendary hospitality of the French, At Home in France will trigger a sensual, nearly palatable nostalgia. If you've never been, this is the next best thing to actually sharing a well-laid table in
Provence or at an ancestral vineyard in the Beaujolais.
Though raised in New York, author Christopher Petkanas has lived in France since 1982 and has cultivated a gourmand's taste and an artist's discerning eye. In At Home in France, he takes us
to 18 different homes and regions to discover the art of entertaining and eating with the French. Disdaining the Western luncheon practice of eating "a nasty sandwich ... while polishing off at least two other tasks," Petkanas revels in the French
"atmosphere of care, respect, and attention that is all the more engaging for being automatic."
We visit the home of Simone "Simca" Beck, a chef, author, and colleague of Julia Child, at her home behind the Riviera and learn the secret to her
Fricandeau de Veau de la Ferme aux Champignons. Later we tour a cottage on Ouessant, a remote island in Brittany, where furniture was often made with the wood of shipwrecks and learn authentic recipes for mussels filled with anise-flavored butter and
pollack steaks en papillotte with dried island seaweed.
The hospitality of the people who opened their lives to Petkanas is simply amazing and their histories as are fascinating as the ease with which they entertain. The photographs by
Jean-Bernard Naudin are as beguiling and sumptuous as the meals and the homes themselves must be. Spend a few hours with At Home in France and learn for yourself l'art de recevoir. --Dana Van Nest
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