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The Gourmet

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  4,568 ratings  ·  776 reviews
In the heart of Paris, in the posh building made famous in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Pierre Athens, the greatest food critic in the world, is dying. Revered by some and reviled by many, Monsieur Arthens has been lording it over the world’s most esteemed chefs for years, passing judgment on their creations, deciding their fates with a stroke of his pen, destroying and b ...more
Hardcover, 126 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Gallic Books (first published 2000)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
I loved Elegance of the Hedgehog, primarily because Barbery created two characters who, although deeply flawed and often annoying, were so obviously vulnerable and sad that one (I) couldn't help but feel deeply for them. That story unfolded as carefully and precisely as an origami swan, revealing deeper nuance of character with each alternating chapter, bringing two very isolated and lonely characters together (through plot, character and symbolically). It also took broad and very funny swipes a ...more
Nancy
I know this is my pre-teen, Nancy-Drew-loving self that is saying this, but I will say it anyway: I hope Muriel Barbery writes a book about EVERY SINGLE PERSON at 17 Rue de Grenelle. I loved _The Elegance of the Hedgehog_, and was enchanted to find this new novel by Barbery. This one which concerns Pierre Arthens, who makes one supremely unpleasant visit to the heroine of _Hedgehog_ before dying and leaving his flat vacant. Let me say upfront: He is unpleasant in this one too. But this time we s ...more
Jane
Where I got the book: from The Book Depository.

After my tear-soaked, ecstatic reaction to The Elegance of the Hedgehog , I was eager to read Une Gourmandise (I had it in its original French) or Gourmet Rhapsody if you're reading the translation. It's Barbery's first novel (Elegance is the second and last to date, the first to be published) and deals with the same apartment building in Paris. This time it's about the penthouse tenant, the food critic Pierre Arthens, who is dying and searching th
...more
Lesley
If you loved _The Elegance of the Hedgehog_, you may be able to tolerate this. If, however you found yourself skipping major sections of the pretentious, florid prose and navel-gazing, you won't find this much an improvement. Originally published in 2000, but re-released after the success of _Hedgehog_, _Gourmet Rhapsody_ focuses on another resident of the swanky rue de Grenelle apartment house, Pierre Arthens, the illustrious, arrogant food critic. Dying of heart disease, Arthens tortures his m ...more
Jinny Chung
"How ironic! After decades of grub, deluges of wine and alcohol of every sort, after a life spent in butter, cream, rich sauces, and oil in constant, knowingly orchestrated and meticulously cajoled excess, my trustiest right-hand men, Sir Liver and his associate Stomach, are doing marvelously well and it is my heart that is giving out. I am dying of cardiac insufficiency. What a bitter pill to swallow."

As soon as I read those words (which can be found on page two), I was hooked. Barbery, you la
...more
Kate
Do you know how hard it is to write an engaging book of a life, based on taste? Yet, Muriel Barbery does it extremely well in this short, tasty morsel of a book.

This one expands on the life of the despicable food critic Monsieur Arthens who makes a brief but interesting entrance and exit in The Elegance of the Hedgehog. In this book, it is Arthens last 48 hours on Earth and through his voice and the voices of his family, friends, coworkers, and pets the reader gets his whole life described in va
...more
Elevate Difference
Food has become a very controversial subject, many arguing that education levels, income, and race unfairly dictate the availability of fresh foods and vegetables in low-income American neighborhoods. Though Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog) does not focus specifically on these issues in her recent novel Gourmet Rhapsody, the division between the working class and the wealthy as it pertains to food and quality of life is often glaringly apparent in the story.

The premise of the novel
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Julie
After the joy, wonder and affirmation of life that I found in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Gourmet Rhapsody was a disappointment. There is no plot here, no real story, just a collection of rhapsodic culinary memories by a food critic who lay dying in the his Parisian apartment building. There is also commentary by his family, neighbors and Rick, the cat. Pierre Arthens, this critic of enormous appetite and reputation, is feared and loathed by most (except Rick); he is a cold and distant father, ...more
Monica Carter
Sep 04, 2009 Monica Carter rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies
I am the greatest food critic in the world. It is I who has taken this minor art and raised it to a rank of utmost prestige. Everyone knows my name, from Paris to Rio, Moscow to Brazaville, Saigon o Melbourne and Acapulco. I have made, and unmade, reputations, and at sumptuous banquets I have been the knowing and merciless maitre d'oeuvre, expediting to the four corners of the globe the salt or honey of my pen, to newspapers and broadcasts and various forums, where I have been repeatedly invite
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is just about as close to 4 stars as you can get without crossing the line. If you enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog, you will likely enjoy this one too, but it really isn't nearly as good, so don't expect it to be.

Barbery uses a phrase in Gourmet Rhapsody that I think perfectly describes her style: a symphony of language. This is her debut novel, however, and I think we can easily see the orchestra is just practicing. She has a marvelous turn of phrase, and her insight is still good, b
...more
Leajk
I was really hoping for the supporting characters of this book to become important or involved in some kind of twist, in some kind of big revelation.

As the blurb will tell you this is a book about a famous and powerful, but cold-hearted food critic dying. Meanwhile he is trying to remember one last vital taste that will tell him who he is before he dies. Every other chapter is him reminiscing about the food that he’s eaten throughout his life, often rustic food not served in gourmet restaurants
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Vickie
I hoped for better, having just read Elegance of the Hedgehog. I was charmed by a few of the vignettes of foods, but I can't say the personal reflections inbetween did anything but drive the story to a new understanding of the critic's personality clashing or complementing each food.

As for the final taste... it is possible, having never eaten the food, I am really missing something here, but I was unimpressed with the resolution - and not just as a food, but as a cathartic device. I had a moment
...more
Vicky
I loved "The elegance of Hedgehog"; I even read somewhere that the book had been prescribed for some patients of psychoanalysis instead of medication. I can not compare the two books ("Rhapsody" was the first one published by Barbery), they are completely different. This book is a poem, a song dedicated to food. It is a hymn of odaration for the delights and pleasures of eating. The story makes you dismiss any concept of diets and enjoy the butter, cream and rich cakes, to crave fresh bread and ...more
Lisa
A secret of mine: I have difficulty reading menus. I can't make heads or tales of them. I can't focus. I would gladly have lived in the era of the man ordering for the lady. I am happy to it just about anything. Cookbooks are another thing. Those I like to read. Restaurant reviews, back to menus. Restaurant reviewer often end up in throes of ecstasy, their descriptions leave me wondering, is thus a meal or an especially frothy Botticelli he is describing. Gourmet Rhapsody is somewhat like that i ...more
E.G. Jönsson
En roman för foodie-generationen. Kanske säger den också något om varför?

Muriel Barbery har nästan skrivit en briljant roman. Hon är mycket observant. Hennes idé är ingalunda oäven. Stilen är elegant. Ändå är det något i analysen som saknas för att höja det från en bra historia och feelgood-roman (trots att de något kantiga karaktärerna är mestadels, enligt egen utsago, olyckliga) till bestående litteratur.

Nu vill jag inte vara pedant. Allt behöver nödvändigtvis inte vara bestående. Jag kan reko
...more
Jean
Conocí a Muriel Barbery por La Elegancia del Erizo, un libro posterior a este que está lleno de poesía y de finos racionamientos filosóficos.

En Rapsodia Gourmet Pierre Arthens, un cruel crítico de cocina reflexiona sobre los sabores de su vida desde su lecho de muerte. Si bien está escrito con el mismo tacto y precisión que ya conocía de la autora, no es un universo tan rico como el libro subsiguiente.

Sin embargo las descripciones sobre los sabores son encantadoras, lo acercan a uno a esos aro
...more
Tara Carpenter
I have been wanting to read this book for a few years, since I read Barbery's other, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I loved that one! But not everyone I recommended it to appreciated it like I did. And after reading this one I think I might understand.

This book is a collection of remembrances of and about one man - a great gourmand and foot critic, whose entire life has been focused on his craft rather than the people around him. And now he's about to die. About a third of the chapters are from t
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Bookaholic
ţi lasă gura apă citind această Gourmandise, o carte despre tot ceea ce înconjoară, însoţeşte şi creează gustul: despre lumina, sunetele, conversaţiile din jurul meselor, despre mirosuri, texturi şi savoare, despre memorie, dar şi despre artizanii mâncărurilor şi personalitatea lor.

Am dat peste cartea asta scormonind prin Saint George’s, una dintre frumoasele librării de limbă engleză din Berlin şi când am văzut că e scrisă de Muriel Barbery, autoarea unui simpatic bestseller tradus şi la noi –
...more
Jan
It's always interesting to read a book where the main protagonist isn't especially likable. Gourmet Rhapsody is the slim story of a famous food critic in his last two days of life. Lying on his deathbed, he tries to recall the one particular flavor he wants to taste again before he's gone forever. The chapters alternate between his recollections of the various and best things he's tasted throughout his life and the observations of the people whose lives he's touched - from the maid to his wife a ...more
Tinav
Barbery’s earlier book, Gourmet Rhapsody, became the second one printed in the U.S. after Elegance became such a success. Now this one did interest me, and during the recent holidays, I finally got around to reading it. I finished in one sitting.

A rich, influential, hated French food critic lies on his deathbed with some 48 hours left to him, casting his mind back through every food memory in search of an elusive flavor he feels he simply MUST taste again before he dies. From the food his grandm
...more
Emily
While I didn't like this book as much as The Elegance of the Hedgehog, it was still enjoyable. Barbery actually wrote this short novel first, but it was published in the US after Hedgehog.

It chronicles the last days of a famous food critic's life as he searches for a familiar flavor that he needs to enjoy before he dies. Alternating chapters are from those who knew him, and I personally found these chapters to be more intriguing than those from the critic himself. If you're interested in food an
...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Critics found Gourmet Rhapsody less enjoyable than Barbery's Hedgehog, which features a charming 12-year-old protagonist and an emotionally compelling story line. Arthens, who brings to mind the dour, condescending food critic Anton Ego in Pixar's animated gastro-flick Ratatouille, is far less appealing. Only Salon thought that the weaknesses of Hedgehog -- including its literary and philosophical pretensions -- were strengths in Gourmet Rhapsody. Despite the comparison, most critics thought Rha ...more
Lolly LKH
While I didn't devour Gourmet Rhapsody as deeply as I did The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I still found it moving. It is true that it is full of food (the love of it, the search for that one taste that the unlovable food critic Pierre Arthen longs for on his deathbed) but Barbery's beauty is in the characters. Each character that speaks of Pierre and their hatred, fear or admiration of the man holds such conflicted emotions that Barbery writes of so well. Barbery's sentences always move me and mak ...more
Amanda
As a food lover, Gourmet Rhapsody was a disappointment. Perhaps I set my expectations too high after reading the summary or perhaps the potential humor of the story was lost in a poor translation. My guess is that it is most likely the latter.
For starters the book often did not make much sense. It took me several chapters to sort out what was happening and who was talking. Sentences frequently made little sense due to words seemingly being thrown together randomly. Then there was the conclusion
...more
Kasa Cotugno
A food critic on his deathbed searching for his gustatory Rosebud -- told in alternating chapters by him and those around him. Even from a figurine on his desk, from his cat. Also his cook, his long suffering wife. His alienated children and wise grandchild. The face he's chosen to present to each person combine into a person hardly recognizable from the introspective sensualist at their center. The book was written before Elegance of the Hedgehog featuring a character who has died in Hedgehog, ...more
Charly-e Jaguar
Dec 10, 2014 Charly-e Jaguar rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Charly-e by: Jorge Iñiguez
Este libro tiene un inicio que cautiva, ya que la forma en que narra la historia y los personajes, me parecen interesantes. Además, la premisa permite involucrarse con la narración, ya que es un tema universal: Si antes de morir, tuvieras la oportunidad de disfrutar lo mejor que hayas tenido en esta vida, ¿Qué sería? esta interrogante y los recuerdos de un hombre maduro que asume con resignación las consecuencias de una vida de éxitos, pero desapegada de los seres queridos, plantea distintas cue ...more
Joe Cummings
"Gourmet Rhapsody," the 2009 translation by Alison Anderson of Muriel Barbery's short first novel "Une gourmandis" which was published in 2000. Like Paterniti's nonfiction book "The Telling Room," this novel is about a man and story teller) searching for a taste or flavor of something before it's forgotten forever. In this case, a world famous French food critic and restaurant reviewer lays dying in his Parisian home. He's been told that he only has a short time to live. On his death bed, the fo ...more
Carmen
Probably what most attracts me to Muriel Barbery's books is her beautiful use of language. I read her in French and I know that many people find her pompous but I enjoy a writer who spends time on her words. The world's best food critic is about to die and wants to remember a taste that haunts him...At one point he asks himself if the taste he craves to remember will not turn out to be something as horrible as Proust's Madeleine? Will he remember what it is? Will it live up to his expectations?
Laura
Yet again, Barbery has broken my heart with an amazingly sweet, simple story about people being people... in particular, food critic Pierre Arthens whose life has been lived describing and critiquing the so called 'finer things in life,' and has forgotten the simple joys of youth and true pleasure. I love that his family and acquaintances spend the book complaining about this man's inability to connect to them, while he spends his narration connecting to mayonnaise and whiskey!
Kimberly
This novel is the precursor to "The Elegance of the Hedgehog." And like most readers in North America, I read them in reverse order. For me, this really had no ill effect as I enjoyed them quite independently from each other. Pierre Arthens, a pompous, conceited, egotistical man ("I am the greatest food critic in the world." Page 1) who has harmed many in his lifetime, is on his deathbed. Does he long to right all the wrongs that he has wrought along the way? Does he wish he could make amends to ...more
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Muriel Barbery is a French novelist and professor of philosophy. Barbery entered the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud in 1990 and obtained her agrégation in philosophy in 1993. She then taught philosophy at the Université de Bourgogne, in a lycée, and at the Saint-Lô IUFM.
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La timide et très discrète Muriel Barbery ne s’imaginait sans doute pas faire l’objet de l’engouement qu
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