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Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  634 ratings  ·  61 reviews
New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling recalls his Parisian apprenticeship in the fine art of eating in this charming memoir.

No writer has written more enthusiastically about food than A. J. Liebling. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, the great New Yorker writer's last book, is a wholly appealing account of his éducation sentimentale in French cuisine during 1926 and 1927, wh
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 29th 2004 by North Point Press (first published 1959)
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Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayMy Life in France by Julia ChildA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
74th out of 440 books — 428 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
213th out of 707 books — 1,313 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennifer Wilson
I read this in Paris. Often in a bathtub. Yes, I know I am a lucky woman.
A.J. Liebling wrote press criticism for the New Yorker in the 40s and 50s; I’m told that these writings are the apex of the subgenre, better than his writing on boxing and food. His writing in Between Meals, essays about his year spent in Paris in the 20s, learning how to eat and drink, is very good. He’s an excellent storyteller. His style is also crusty and quaint, like an artifact unearthed from an archeological dig. It is helpful in reading this book to suspect vaguely what a perihelion or p ...more
"Lamb larded with anchovies, artichokes on a pedestal of foie gras..." Take a bite of book.

(A)bbott (J)oseph Liebling, we learn, easily knocked back hot sausage, wild boar, lobster and various cheeses w wines and champagne at a meal. If you et as much as AJ, you too would become a battered fatso and drop dead at age 59. This, his last book, is a fuzzy-muzzy compiled of 3 or 4 articles, hence its sense of dislocation.

Decades before the exclamation ejaculations of Tom Wolfe and the tiresome phrase
If you can read Liebling's Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris without your mouth watering for cassoulet, pot-au-feu or escargots en pots de chambre with a bottle of Côte Rôtie, you're made of stouter stuff than I.
Loved it! Made me so excited to for next year! One great quote: Monsieur Pierre says, "Only 25% of my customers order a plat du jour...The rest take grilled things. It's the doctors you know. People only think of the liver and the figure. The stomach is forgotten." Ha! How great would it be if I could eat my way around France and never think of my liver or my figure? And then of course come back to the states and have my liver and figure totally fine...

It was such a wonderful, delicious read. I
If this book doesn't make you want to get on a plane immediately to eat your way around Paris, nothing will. I love Liebling's writing--funny, touching, and erudite all at once, which is not an easy note to hit. Recommended for Francophiles, gourmands, and lovers of great writing. (He also has a collection of World War II writing that is excellent.)
Liebling is mad. May all the world be as mad as he. A personal account of how he cultivated his passions for food–and love, and consequently, life–while in Paris as a young man, accompanied by his observations on Paris as an older man. Liebling at his most charmingly fecund.
I found this on a list of books read in 1991, but I only remember one line from it, about eating a couple dozen oysters before a meal of cassoulet but not worrying about the volume of food "because oysters have no bulk." :)
Christopher Russell
Don't know what took me so long to get around to this classic. I ripped through this. A cousin to "A Moveable Feast" and yet wholly different. Many wonderful sentiments. Here are two that I resonate with:

"The content of communication is unimportant. What counts is somebody on one end of a wire shouting, “My God, I’m alive!” and somebody on the other end shouting, “My God, I’m alive too!” -

"I have never personally inquired into the mysteries of its* fabrication; I am content to love a masterpiec
Jun 15, 2010 Joy marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoir
I had some great meals in Paris recently so this title caught my eye! And now I'm hungry..:)
Due to a combined misfortune of timing and circumstance, I have not been to the Paris that Liebling describes in "Between Meals." Given that this was Liebling's last book before his death in 1963, I suspect that the Paris contained within this slender book were no more than so many remembered meals by the time this was published. Regardless, Liebling's Paris recalls a time when people savored their food and drink. (Then again, this was also when our traditional notions of men and women dominated ...more
What an enjoyable read! It's as if you are there with Liebling at every moment -- indulging in all things delicious: butter, wine, oysters, women and Paris! It was even better beginning this book on the train from Amsterdam riding into Paris: my palate literally wet with anticipation of the food in the outlandishly beautiful French capital. Unfortunately for me, I fell ill and could taste almost nothing and so did not get to partake in the best pastime one could participate in....alas....will ha ...more
I did not know this author who was a columnist for the New Yorker. A man of prodigious appetites, gustative and otherwise, he died young from all his excesses. The book is a series of articles on debauchery and on eating in Paris in the 1920s to the fifties. His love of food comes out loud and clear and, while he may have bben a gourmet at the beginning, he died as a gourmand.

A pleasant read, if only for all the food mentioned.
Feb 12, 2011 Nat added it
Reading this book is worth it just to see Liebling's super-literal translations of German and French into English. For example, when he is speaking to a "Big Swiss" who works at a weight reduction clinic he has enrolled in, Liebling hungrily asks the Swiss about what he has been eating:

"And thou, eat thou this crap?" I asked him in my imperfect but idiomatic German. [Und sie, essen sie diese sheisse?]
"No", said Sprüdli, as he plucked my biceps like harp strings and let them snap."I need my stren
Rambling reminiscences of his time in Paris over a number of decades. This is one of the top culinary books of all time. And ends off with a chapter about his prostitute/mistress from the '30's.

Cranky (people are just so concerned about their liver now-a-days!)and witty (he compares a home made wine served by his hosts to a good Bordeaux - "They were both wet."). His eating habits are as much about gluttony as fine dining.

Excellent intro by James Salter, who knew a thing or two about Paris and
A nostalgic tour of between wars Paris. But don’t expect to meet Hemingway or the other classic expats, Liebling ran in different circles, circles where pursuit of the best possible meals was a vital part of life. You see, Liebling is a wholly unapologetic gourmand. Check your political correctness at the door and prepare to be bowed over by stupendous meals and a level of consumption that is borderline inconceivable today amongst the supposedly health conscious foodie class. Liebling’s wit is s ...more
May 18, 2013 Chuck rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chuck by: Tom Spann
I was disappointed not because of the book, but because of my own expectations. I read the book because of my fondness for Paris and my desire to share a little of the culture from the pre World War II era. What I found was a book that read more like a gossip column on people, restaurants, chefs, passing acquaintances and Lieblings views on his liver, that all change is for the worst and his personal habits, which were at least, unusual. He was funny and many of his observations were clever, but ...more
This is just my glass of wine. (Who wants a cup of tea when we are talking about Parisian meals?!) One can smell the golden buttery crust of the savory pies of game, hear the clink of glasses and the murmur of corks being pulled and dinners being served all the while imagining a different era of restaurant dining ala Paris in the late 1920's. The amount of food eaten and wine drunk at each meal was epic. More on the changes to the scene while Liebling was a "war" correspondent during WWII and th ...more
This was a lovely follow-up to The Perfectionist. Liebling, a deceased New Yorker writer, published this collection of articles near the end of his life. The subject: eating in France. Most of the narrative concerns the late 1920s, when he was a student in Paris. Liebling considered himself a "feeder" - not a gourmet - and describes the truly massive meals he ate on a regular basis. Here's a funny little tidbit about the author: He worked briefly in the sports department of the New York Times, a ...more
Finishing this book is hard, you're left with a sad reminiscence of A) needing desperately to be in a Paris bistro no-matter-what and B) a yearning for a time long past when one was expected to order oysters, (possibly 18), then steak topped with beef marrow and finish it off with a cassoulet, or risk offending the chef. In 1927 Liebling was on the left bank learning to eat. And he did. Complied from four articles he wrote for the New Yorker (Including one on boxing). His prose and insights are ...more
Winter Sophia Rose
Music For The Hungry!
Nash Tysmans
Jul 03, 2011 Nash Tysmans is currently reading it
Shelves: books-i-own
So far so good. It's hard to imagine that most of these were written decades ago when Paris was still home to epxats like Hemingway and Stein! But no, forget them. I don't know who Liebling is because i haven't googled him yet. All I know after reading the first chapter is that I couldn't have bought a better book to tour me around the Parisian palate. Incredible! Funny and most of all engaging!

Now to finish and savor every page!
Sam Poole
Chauvinistic, irritatingly one-sided and frequently misogynistic with minimal self-awareness. This is criticism from the first half of the 20th century. Liebling is at his best when he's talking about food and showing some real human emotion and at his worst far for more frequently, dispensing privileged and condescending "advice". Very blah and not enlightening, informative or captivating. Mostly just judgmental
Nadine Lucas
Liebling was a delightful essayist and bon vivant. I loved his characterizations of the denizens of Paris. However, I was expecting more food writing than I got and some of Liebling's musings come across as dated. Mind you, this makes the book interesting from a historical point of view. Very enjoyable, but I preferred Moveable Feast, which did more to whet my appetite for the pleasures of Paris.
Ken Elser
Aug 31, 2008 Ken Elser rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ken by: John Hovey
This book will make you hungry and wish you were in Paris. It takes a little while to warm up (the book is actually a collection of old articles), but once the writer finds his style (sometimes satirically funny in the same way as Twain), it's quite enjoyable.
Skip the forward, which almost made me put the book back down. Read the afterward, which contains some of the funniest passages.
Best for the bit in which Liebling blames the demise of great French cooking on those modish child-labor laws, keeping nuances of the trade from being introduced at toddlerdom. He quotes the last of a line of French circus clowns whose legs were broken by his father, for, to quote roughly, "God bless him, he knew a clown should walk in a comical fashion."
John A
Delightful account of Liebling's gustatory perambulations around Paris, but mostly it is just damn good writing.
Rebecca Wright
I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Essays on his early life in Paris, where he did a lot of eating. However there was one chapter that was all about boxing, which didn't interest me. And the last one was more about women you could pick up at restaurants during this time frame.
Maureen M
Part of my warmup for the trip to Paris this spring, a fun, fast read of a gourmand's memoir of his best meals in France. It has the added bonus of providing a glimpse into life in Paris in 1927 and 1939, as Liebling remembered it in his 50s. Thanks to Rochelle for the loan!
Aug 05, 2009 Young rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Young by: Andrea
Funny and delicious reading. Supports the view that Paris is the best eating city in the world. It's too bad that the exchange rate is no longer 25 francs to the dollar, and one cannot afford to eat at the grand restaurants that have survived to the present day.
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