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A Meal Observed

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  88 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In this seductive account of a long, luxurious dinner at the venerable Paris restaurant Taillevent, Andrew Todhunter is both the American abroad sharing a rare gastronomic adventure with his wife and the apprentice-cum-reporter who has spent several months working in the restaurant’s celebrated kitchen, learning what goes on behind the scenes. As Todhunter describes it, Ta ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 10th 2004 by Knopf
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Dec 26, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. I love food and I love cooking, and well, I'm also living in Paris. So it was the right time for me to read this one. However, that being said, so much of this book is not about Taillevent and Todhunter is a brilliant writer. Laugh out loud funny in all the right places. I enjoyed it so much more than I had thought I would and he has great human insight. I definitely recommend it!
Keith McCormick
Oct 20, 2014 Keith McCormick rated it really liked it
A Meal Observed succeeds. It succeeds in large part because the concept is brilliant - an entire book about a single meal. It also succeeds because Mr. Todhunter's prose is up to the challenge of such a high concept endeavor, requiring the need to frequently depart from the meal to explore a host of seemingly tangential concerns while somehow staying on course. However, just as a Chef of haute cuisine must walk a knife's edge between leaving the diner merely satiated and leaving them overly burd ...more
Feb 05, 2010 John rated it really liked it
I cringed when I read that the author was an American in Paris "interning" at Taillevent (the book's featured restaurant): "Swell, a dilettante yuppie (yawn)." Not so ... aside from mentions of Martha's Vineyard (Menemsha) in passing a couple of times, he goes out of his way to stress that he's not from an upper class background. I would've liked a bit more on how he came to intern there; without that background, it does seem rather a "whim". Still, not a deal-breaker in terms of my taking the b ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Kathryn rated it liked it
a fun read for francophiles or if you've eaten at Taillevant, or if you like to eat in a really, really good restaurant once in a while or once in a ife-time. Easy to pick up/put down because of the fun layout.
Dec 27, 2011 Ben rated it really liked it
I've noticed in the last year or so that the books I enjoy, remember and recommend the most have tended to be about how things are made or how they work, though generally not in the form of an instruction manual. The authors tend to be interested amateurs rather than seasoned professionals, though there are exceptions to that rule. Some of the most enjoyable have included Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own, Tracy Kidder's House, and David Owens' Sheetrock and Shellac. In the same vein, though ab ...more
Nov 09, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
I couldn't get over the perceived arrogance of the author, somewhat ruining the book, since it's a pseudo-food memoir. Billed as part natural history, part memoir, it's almost exclusively a memoir. There are paragraphs here and there about the history and circumstances surrounding the meal, but they are few. Todhunter apprenticed at a 3-star Michelin restaurant, worked with some of the top chefs in the world, and all we get of the experience is about twenty full pages. So frustrating. Yes, I enj ...more
Ket Lamb
Jul 14, 2010 Ket Lamb rated it liked it
Dreaming of dining at a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris? Foodies will devour this delicious book, which recounts an entire meal at Taillevent. Between the amuse bouche and the fantasie, the author riffs on his favorite cheese shops in Paris, the history of salt, and the kitchen politics behind the scenes in a renowned restaurant. Yummy armchair dining at it's best! Desperate to taste a morsel? Pastry chef, Gilles Bajolle's, Marquise au Chocolat et a la Pistache recipe is thoughtfully pro ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 25, 2009 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking
Here's an interesting idea for a book: Go to an exclusive French restaurant, indulge in a long and pricey meal, and then write about it. That's it. That's this book. It is a course by course description of a single meal. Todhunter tells about the food and the service and the restaurant and the chefs and wanders around here and there into all sorts of fascinating tangentially related topics. A fun quick read.
Amanda Vogelbaum
Oct 25, 2007 Amanda Vogelbaum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chefs, food lovers, and beyond!
Shelves: food
Todhunter is not as arrogant as he may first come off as. Read on to get to know him a little better. Todhunter's descriptions of food, and the intricate dance humans have choreographed around the aromatic and flavorful symphony which is food, is often breathtaking and memorable.
Mary L.
Jul 16, 2012 Mary L. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to have dinner at a top rated Michelin restaurant in Paris, how much it could cost, and what makes it "a night to remember", this is the book for you. It is a great treat!
Katherine Troy
May 17, 2013 Katherine Troy rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. If you love food, you should read it, if you love cooking, you should read it, if you love chocolate, you should read it, if you love France, you should read it.
Feb 18, 2008 Karyn rated it liked it
Interesting and enjoyable read; went overlong in places but a nice read for sitting on an airplane on the way back from Tempe.
Kristin Ursano
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Apr 17, 2015
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Gannonwb rated it really liked it
Dec 24, 2010
Thierry Wasserman
Thierry Wasserman rated it liked it
Dec 26, 2011
Belena rated it really liked it
May 31, 2010
Kristin rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2013
Anthony rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2016
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Aug 06, 2009
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Dec 18, 2013
Molly Mc Nees
Molly Mc Nees rated it it was ok
Apr 05, 2013
Cheryl rated it liked it
Aug 12, 2008
Scott Shoyer
Scott Shoyer rated it really liked it
Sep 10, 2011
Erin rated it liked it
Oct 15, 2008
Rachel Balota
Rachel Balota rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2007
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Aug 22, 2007
Jessica rated it really liked it
Nov 02, 2012
Nov 16, 2007 Dottie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005, own
Probably not for everyone but I enjoyed it.
Jesse Allen
Jesse Allen rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2014
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