5/24/2011

A Lunch in Paris, for Cook the Books Club

The title alone is alluring, of our Cook the Books Club current selection,  Lunch in Paris, by Elizabeth Bard.  I'd like to drop everything and be magically transported to the fabled city for a visit.  If it weren't for the Parisians that is.  Sorry .... though the author and her husband are not native to Paris, so perhaps they  won't mind me venting just a trifle.  But, even the rest of France, from what I can gather, are in agreement.   On that subject, the book reminded me of a recent read by David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life in Paris.  By the time I'd finished, it was perplexing indeed why anyone would subject themselves to the place long term.  Only true love.  Good food and beauty are available in more congenial locales. Though, as long as you're not having to deal with the attitudes yourself, it can be humorous.

You have to give Bard credit for not only sticking it out, but coming up with fabulous recipes and a darn good read as well.  I love a true romance, and paired with tempting food, it is a marriage made in heaven.  She draws us along, into her difficult dilemma, torn between home and a foreign country, long held ideals now challenged by love.  What people are telling her, versus her heart, as capsulated in this quote from the book, page 109:
"There were many things he wanted to do, many things we could do together.  But I felt deep down that if I wasn't prepared to spend the rest of my life with the man in front of me right now - the poorly paid French civil servant with no tie, an unheated bathroom, and a principled grudge against the Coca-Cola Corporation - I had no business marrying him at all.

And then there was Paris - beautiful, slightly inaccessible Paris, like the girl who lures you close with her ruffles and her scent, then leaves you in the doorway, cold and alone, with the barest hint of a good-night kiss.  I felt like I was standing on the doorstep of a culture, and I wasn't sure if anyone was ever going to let me in.  I couldn't just say yes to Gwendal.  I had to say yes to Paris too."
Can she make changes to previously held beliefs about the meaning of life, and what constitutes success?  Both she, and her husband-to-be, Gwendal, do make satisfyingly positive adjustments to one another, as well as to their respective cultures, by the story's finish.  A great read, and there's nothing like a storybook ending, though I am sure that the working out of their marriage will entail many more adjustments and compromises, as does any marriage in real life.


There was much about Lunch in Paris to inspire a cook.  Between riffs off family recipes, ideas from her experiences in a culture besotted with good food, and using local market and backyard produce, narrowing it down was the only problem.  In recent posts I have gone into my search for local, humanely raised pork, and since it is now available, I was especially drawn to their friend, Mayur's preparation of wild boar with apples.  Since we do have green mangoes here though not apples (well, yes mainland shipped ones), I thought it might be a good substitution, along with some mango liqueur, sitting in my cabinet unopened for eons, instead of Calvados, which seems to be completely unavailable locally.

Roast Wild Boar with Green Mango
The slightly tart mango, cider vinegar and Mango Fruja liqueur combined to give the tender, slow cooked pork a lovely complex flavor.  Highly recommended, and if you don't have any wild boar available, you can use Pork Tenderloin as she does in the book's recipe, on page 279.

I am looking forward to reading everyone's posts on this enticingly romantic biography.  Check for the round-up, by our host, Johanna, at the end of the month.

9 comments:

Joanne said...

What a gorgeous way to prepare pork! And I loved your description of the book...I felt like i was reading right along with you!

Swathi said...

Looks like a nice book to read. Green mango is our favorite sure they have enhanced the flavor of meat in there.

Rachel said...

I think your phrase "enticingly romantic biography" sums everything up so nicely. And a tip of the hat to you for coming up with an Island twist on the pork recipe.

Eliotseats said...

What a gorgeous looking recipe. Wish I had mangoes year-round! Thanks for the recipe.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

that's a very enticing meal - pork and fruit go so well together; in crete, we also use quince with pork, a nice change from the usual apple

foodjunkie.eu said...

I loved that recipe too! I actually was given some wild boar which has been sitting in the freezer, but the weather is getting hot soon for such food. Great review as always!

Kaye said...

Mango was a great substitution for apple -- sounds delicious! I've got a sticky on this recipe already. Occasionally I've seen wild boar at the markets, now I have a reason to buy a chunk.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Wonderful post. I love your local boar and subbing in the mangoes--it looks like such a delicious dish.
;-)

Foodycat said...

What a wonderful way to cook boar! You are lucky to have a supplier - I buy it whenever I can but it isn't that often.