Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review - Provence, 1970

This is a review for Blogging For Books.

Provence, 1970 is about a group of influential American cooks and food critics (Julia Child, Richard Olney, James Beard, Judith Jones and M.F.K. Fisher) travelling to Provence in 1970 and how this ended up changing food culture in the USA. The author is MFK Fisher's great nephew and uses her diary as a basis for the book.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it a lot. I wanted it to show me how cooking changed in the early 70s and how this group of people did it. I wanted to see cooking through their eyes and experience

I did not like it, though. The book assumes the reader knows who all these people are. Forgive my lack of food history, but I only knew Julia Child and only because of the movie Julie and Julia. So the whole narrative is structured around people I didn't know and mentioning all their important, influential works I had never heard of. 

From the blurb in the back, I knew something huge was supposed to be happening but I had no idea what. I felt I was reading about several people I did not know, without much character detail, talking and complaining.

Not only that, but I also have to ding some points for the writing itself. I am not particular about writing. I appreciate a well crafted sentence but I won't notice awkward ones until they get very awkward. For example, a paragraph tells us about roasting chicken and serving it. Midway through, "it" starts to refer to the pasta the chicken will be served with. Colour me confused when the author mentions boiling "it"!

If the reader is already well acquainted with these people, I am sure they will think this a fascinating behind the scenes look. For me, it just dragged. On the bright side, several of the cook books mentioned are now in my to-read list!

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