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Clementine in the Kitchen

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  255 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Collects French recipes for everyday dishes and gourmet meals prepared by Clementine, a Burgundian cook for the Chamberlain family living first in post-World War II France, then in Massachusetts.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published February 20th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1990)
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Apr 30, 2010 Joyce rated it really liked it
Pulled this off the shelf for Clark and decided to reread it myself.

An American family living in Senlis, France, quickly repatriates in 1939, bringing their Burgundien cook Clementine with them to Marblehead, Mass.

It's a charming story of cultural adaptation: the family to French cuisine (even the 15-year-old daughter enjoys tete de veau) and later, Clementine to the American way of life. In describing Clementine's reaction to supermarkets (brand new in 1940), we get a fascinating glimpse of th
Oct 23, 2009 Pippin rated it really liked it
A fascinating view into American and French cuisine circa 1940. Clementine is a delight and she is at the center of this story - rightly so. I was amazed that so many of the current attitudes to food were already in place before the second world war: supermarkets, pre-packaged food, color advertising, in store music, and on and on. Contrast that with the markets in france at the same time and two cultures approaches to food stand in stark relief.
S Cearley
Sep 17, 2016 S Cearley rated it liked it
Surprisingly short and disappointingly little to do with life in France.

I expected to have the book detail the life in France as it was in France. However, the American family moves to America after a few pages, and the remainder is a combination of the family becoming re-accustomed to life in the States as well as the fish-out-of-water of Clementine in New England.

While the book lists at nearly 300 pages the writing itself only takes up half of the book. The remainder is a "recipes" section cop
May 06, 2016 Cindy rated it really liked it
A cooking book.
A cultural book.
A mental delight.

I think I shared the story of the "Escargots de Bourgogne" pg 30 with everyone I met...
It starts like this, " You ambush them in the morning, while they are parading nonchalantly on the humid leaf, when their slow, fleshy promenade makes one think of the throat of a voluptuous woman shuddering under a gross and clumsy caress...." and continues to delight all the senses for two more pages, filled with words like: lasciviously elastic and gluttonous
Jun 10, 2011 *Kate rated it it was ok
Clementine in the Kitchen is a fun little autobiography of an upper-class American family who lived in France before WWII and moved, along with their personal French cook back to the states as the war was heating up. I felt the book got a little pretentious at times ... with significant sentences in French, I felt the author would definitely look down his nose at me for not being able to translate. I definitely look at it as an autobiography and not as a cookbook. Despite the many recipes, there ...more
Rogue Reader
May 26, 2013 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it
Clementine is a French cook transplanted to Marblehead, Massachusetts on the eve of WWII. She leaves her native land in the company of the family that has employed her in France - the narrator being the family's young son who discovered the mysteries and confusions of the new world along with Clementine. Nice complement to Julia Child's works, finding ways to make classic French cuisine in a place bereft of most needed ingredients, and finding ways to make American ingredients part of a new clas ...more
Jan 18, 2008 Pinki rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who reads cookbooks for fun
This book is amazing and not so amazing. It is a cookbook and an autobiography of a family who lived in pre WW II France with their beloved cook Clementine. The author of the book sounded a little snobby in regards to the types of wines, techniques, and 3 or 4 sentences at a time in French with no explanation preceding it. All in all, this book will make your mouth water, want to experiment with French cooking, and actually visit the remote French country side. The best part is there are over 16 ...more
Sally Anne
Aug 04, 2014 Sally Anne rated it liked it
Three stars does not really convey the delights of this well-written book that originated as Gourmet Magazine articles around the time of the Second World War. Yes, the tone is somewhat patronistic male, but it is also loving and appreciative. And who'd a thunk that people were complaining about supermarket food in the 1940s? The book includes a bunch of recipes, none of which I have tried, but if you like rich food, I'll bet they are good.

And to think I stumbled upon this gem on a stoop in Broo
Apr 21, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Interesting read about an American family living in France before WWII and their cordon bleu trained French cook. As war is declared they move back to the US and their cook comes with them. I imagine when these columns were published in Gourmet magazine as the war was raising they seemed exotic as well as of a time past. Now many of the recipes and techniques just seem normal. These chapters are written in a very stylized writing form and will not appeal to everyone. The drawings are by the auth ...more
Dan Ryan
Nov 21, 2008 Dan Ryan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: foodies, francophiles
An enormously pleasurable read. This book chronicles a family's relationship with their French cook they hired while in France for business, and brought back with them in the months before Hitler invaded. Despite the serious background, this book is light-hearted and full of recipes. With less than 200 pages of real text before the appendix of recipes, it's a quick view into a time and place forever vanished.
Jul 18, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
Completely nostalgic, still the writing and recipes are simple and approachable. The idea of French food being comfortable, natural and basic pervades. I also love to read about details comparing French markets and shops to the budding supermarkets of 1950's America. This book is a great companion to Julia Child's reminiscing of 1930's Paris.
I've made several things from this book and they are classic.
Aug 24, 2008 Alys rated it liked it
A sweet story of inter cultural adaptation. Parts were a bit too cute for me, but it's interesting to see the "French" way of doing all things cuisine described in such detail. If anything, it inspired me to check out some Julia Child. As a pseudo-vegetarian, only about half the recipes were of interest; however, they do indeed seem worth seeking the ingredients for. Also the chapter on escargot (a bit my mom read to me years ago that got us both in stitches) is priceless.
Taylor Schena
This book was charming, cheerful and mouth-watering. The last chunk of the book consists of French recipes which are also sprinkled throughout every chapter. Don't read if you're hungry! The stories of Clementine adapting to American culture, coming from a small French village, are cute and hilarious. It's a lovely book. The picturesque descriptions of France, food, and Coastal New England, pre-WWII are thoroughly enjoyable. Truly recommend it.
Apr 06, 2016 Peggy rated it it was ok
Dated style of writing
Dated recipes: really, who is going to serve tete au veau (head of calf) these days?
Good story lurking behind the somewhat stilted writing: An American family uprooted from their happy life in France (with a resident French cook who works miracles) by the onset of WW II and the imminent invasion of France by the Germans.
But the writing style - just too 'precious' - sort of turned me off.
Sep 14, 2007 Arwen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like to eat
The first of the narrative cookbooks I ever read. I didn't know such bliss existed! The story of an American family in France before the second world war and their Burgundian cook, and the things she made for them, and then how she adapts once they move to America during the war. Such delicious food! Reading it is like eating a meal. The section on making escargot is the best.
Nov 26, 2007 Emily rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!!! It's totally sweet and silly - with lovely illustrations. I haven't tried any of the recipes but they seem good - unlike many old cookbooks they don't ask you to do impossible things like get a teacup full of leaf lard or hang a duck in a cool part of your cellar for 2 weeks…
Jul 02, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing
The decision to reissue this pre-war memoir was a good one because the stories, though maybe not the recipes, are fresh and light. I never get tired of reading about Americans in France and this is an especially funny entry in that genre.
Feb 19, 2009 Dianne rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking-food
Silly, but pleasant. More interesting as a history of how a certain echelon of people once lived--with private cooks who were treated almost as family members. A little off-putting for those of you who are proles.
Aug 11, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it
A charm of a book, written by a husband and wife team mainly known for this book.
However they also wrote some three weighty tomes, part travel guide, part food guide, titled Bouquet of France, Bouquet of Italy and Bouquet of Britain. I have the last two.
Teri L.
Nov 25, 2016 Teri L. rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-studies, france
Only about 1/3 of the book takes place in France. Afterwards, the family moves to the US. Great recipes!
Jul 30, 2007 Jono rated it liked it
Shelves: food-writing
nothing at all earth-shattering, but sort of cute. if you've got a foodie/francophile friend, they'll enjoy this slice of "everday life." We are what we eat, indeed.
Sep 20, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable tale! I especially liked Chamberlain's drawings throughout. I'm now trying to hunt down a copy of one of the prints, "Manhattan Twilight."
Dec 28, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unowned, memoir, cookbook
Charming! I didn't try the recipes, but I loved reading about life in France between the wars, and about Clementine's move to the US. The food sounded delicious, too.
Sep 07, 2008 Ellie rated it liked it
It's neat to peek into American's diet during 1940s and see how different definitions of what's gourmet then and now. This book made me hungry!
Kariin rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2015
Peggy rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2010
Julie Westerheim
Julie Westerheim rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2010
Catherine rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2012
Nancy rated it liked it
Mar 16, 2007
Stef rated it really liked it
Jun 29, 2011
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Samuel V. Chamberlain (1895-1975) was an author, illustrator photographer and artist who occasionally wrote under the pseudonym Phineas Beck. His works include books on historical architecture, interiors, fashion illustration, and cookbooks.

More about Samuel V. Chamberlain...

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