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Immoveable Feast

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  608 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews

A witty cultural and culinary education, Immoveable Feast is the charming, funny, and improbable tale of how a man who was raised on white bread—and didn't speak a word of French—unexpectedly ended up with the sacred duty of preparing the annual Christmas dinner for a venerable Parisian family.

Ernest Hemingway called Paris "a moveable feast"—a city ready to embrace you at

Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 10th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,163)
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Mar 09, 2009 Jdbaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly substance-free book that left me wondering why I ever picked it up. I generally find something redeemable in all food writing, but this book feels as if Mr. Baxter was offered the opportunity to write something, was fishing around for an easy subject to cover, happened to be cooking a Christmas dinner for his family, and decided to simply put down on paper the various stages and information about each part of the meal and the holiday. A totally insignificant work that felt shallow ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Marg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review coming in December!

Short summary - really enjoyed it! Made me want Christmas in France as part of a French family with a fantastic cook! Not as a guest....or the cook!


One day I was listening to The Book Show on our ABC and they interviewed an Australian author who had spent many years living in Paris after shorter stints in the US and Britain. They were talking about his book The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: a Pedestrian in Paris and given my infatuation with al
Jan 02, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book was exactly what it said on the packaging, and nothing more. That wasn't a problem, really; it was funny at times (I particularly liked the anecdote about the surgeon called on Christmas day to solve the issue of a too-large pig in a too-small oven), and it was descriptive and quick to read. It gave a flavor to Christmas I haven't seen in many books, and Baxter is chatty and eager to share his experiences, necessary qualities for an author of this type of memoir.

I knew going into it th
Kim Greenhalgh
Dec 28, 2014 Kim Greenhalgh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christmas can be a chaotic time that doesn't lend itself well to reading, I find. No matter, this book is a delightful little gem that is easy to fit into a busy schedule and deliciously satisfying and enriching too.

It focuses on sacred French culinary tradition at Christmas and was a lovely little peak into the lives of John Baxter, an Australian married to a lovely French woman, and his extended French family. He is tasked to prepare a highly anticipated Christmas meal for sixteen people and
This is a fun little book. The author basically tells the story of cooking a Christmas meal for his French in-laws. Each chapter tackles a bit of the planning as well as the cooking and presentation of the meal itself, intermingled with vignettes from the author's life--his marriage, family, childhood in Australia, his career, etc. His style is pithy yet sophisticated. He talked a lot about wine, and not being a wine drinker, those parts did not interest me as much. Overall quite charming and so ...more

John Baxter has written several books about his experiences as an expatriated Australian married to a Frenchwoman and living in France while negotiating the rough, but rewarding, waves of cultural differences. In this book, he focuses on his task of cooking a traditional French Christmas dinner for his wife, teenage daughter and numerous French in-laws at a big family home in Richebourg, in the northwest countryside of Pas de Calais. His chapters that lead up to this event are filled with fun ob
January 4, 2010

This was my favorite holiday book of the year, a Christmas present from my son. John Baxter (who I never even heard of...) is funny and true as he tells the story of preparing Christmas dinner (and many memories of Christmases past)for his wife's family. I loved the food; I loved the writing and what is not to like about a man who cooks, espcially a man who names his Christmas pig!

A couple of my favorite quotes:

"To the French, sin - provided it is conceived with imagination and ca
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
This book was a wonderful surprise for me- picked up at a remainder shop for $5- I'd never heard of this book, or the author before. But I love Paris, and am having increasingly strong desires to visit in winter and spend a Christmas there. And what does John Baxter tell us in the very first pages? That Christmas as a tourist in Paris is awful. Actually the only naughty thing about this book is the subtitle. It's not about a Parisian Christmas at all. John Baxter, an Australian, lives in Paris w ...more
A good book to read over the christmas season, particularly for those of us who love good food, Christmas, Paris, and pork. To give the game away just slightly (sorry), this guy cooks a whole piglet for his family for Christmas. This short non-fiction account details his efforts to procure the pig (apparently buying a pig with its skin on is just not what the French do), cook it (what do you do when you discover on Christmas morning that the oven is too small to fit your piglet snout to tail?), ...more
From the preface: Most years, the first queries from the United States or Australia arrive just after Thanksgiving. "We're thinking," say friends,"of a romantic Christmas trip to Paris. Which would be the best hotel? What restaurants offer a really interesting Christmas dinner? And is there a chance of spending the day with a typical French family? Please don't go to a lot of trouble. Just give us half dozen names or so. We'll do the rest."

Baxter goes on to explain that there are no hotels and r
A fun, festive pre-Christmas read... and I enjoyed it more than my other foray into John Baxter's travel writing ("We'll Always Have Paris"). I *did* expect there to be more hijinx involved in his efforts to prepare a Christmas meal for his new French inlaws.

I especially liked the passage where Baxter indicates the extent to which his Christmas expectations were often influenced by books and movies, since I myself have frequently found myself in the same boat since childhood...

"A solitary child
John Baxter is an Australian living in L.A. working as a screenwriter when his marriage breaks up. On a whim he contacts a French woman, Marie-Dominique, who he had met many years ago when she was still a teenager. They spend an amazing two weeks together and when it's time for her to leave, he goes with her, never to return. They eventually have a daughter and marry. Food is his entree into Marie-Dominique's family, particularly at the beginning when he speaks no French, but food is a language ...more
Oct 20, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in the UK as Cooking For Claudine

Cooking a meal for your new in-laws is probably one of the most nerve wracking events imaginable, but when those in-laws are French, and Parisians at that, then it becomes a nightmare. Even worse if, like John Baxter, you are Australian and have been raised on good plain tucker and beer.

John Baxter is a well known film critic and book lover and this is his story of how he fell in love with a French lady, married her and moved to Paris. He writes with w
This is a quick, easy read about one man's endeavor to create the perfect Christmas dinner for his wife's large French family. It is intertwined with reminiscences of times past to describe what inspires him to choose the different courses he will serve at this dinner. I, for one, will never understand the French love affair with food. This book indicates that "The Meal" seems to be more important than the people, the place or the event. It is unthinkable to serve the wrong cheese (assuming you' ...more
A charming memoir by an Australian who traveled the world and eventually settled down in Paris with his French wife. While describing the process of planning the Christmas Eve menu for the dinner he will cook for his wife's family, Baxter talks about Paris, the French relationship to food, cooking methods, and much more, always entertainingly. Highly recommended.
Dec 14, 2011 Happyreader rated it really liked it
A fun piece of French Christmas food porn served up by an Australian. A Year in Provence with much better food. Enjoyed his appreciation for the French custom of local, local, super local food and his characterization of French cooking as "essentially simple. It relies on precisely isolating and emphasizing the essential flavor of an ingredient, then juxtaposing two or more such tastes in a pleasing or surprising harmony." Plus, I now know not to bring wine, bread, or cheese to a French home. It ...more
Started off reasonably well, despite some small typos and the like, but by the time I got to page 144 where the author states that the grapes of Médoc are Cabermet Franc and Syrah, I lost all faith in either his knowledge of wine or the editor's proofreading skills. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the actual grapes of the Médoc, which is Bordeaux, by the way, are, in order of planting: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Carmenère. When he says that the C ...more
Joyce  Adams
Dec 20, 2015 Joyce Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this charming and witty book written by John Baxter about his quest for the best ingredients for a French Christmas dinner at his In-Laws country home. The author also shares his story about meeting his wife and his introduction to French culture and cuisine. A great book for the holidays!
Sep 25, 2016 Terzah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great little read for Christmas and shed light on this aspect of French culture that I wasn't aware of: how the French "do" the holiday "en famille." Baxter, an Australian who has written other books about Paris that I am now eager to read, is funny and affectionate. Light and fluffy, but also good Chantilly.
Oct 27, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an insanely quick read - three hours over two days for 270 pages.

The author is an Australian who married a Frenchwoman in a whirlwind-ish romance (friends for 14 years and then all of a sudden in love).

The book chronicles Christmas dinners past with her French and picky family. Each chapter addresses a type of food and also not only its history in French food but also how the author used it in meals past. The chapters veer toward individual meal courses near the end, as the author
Victoria Templeton
A light and amusing description of French Christmas culture and an ex pat's acceptance of the customs and they of his. The vignettes seemed disjointed as a storyboard. However, I did appreciate the insight of their culinary holiday traditions.
Dec 28, 2014 Topherjaynes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick-witted fast read about preparing a "french christmas dinner." I found myself longing for a nice bottle, or two, of red wine to accompany the chapters as Baxter gets closer to serving the meal. Very insightful to culture of food and family.
Sally A
OK, I picked this book because of the title, having just read "A Moveable Feast" this summer. It's an amusing tale of creating a Christmas dinner for the author's French relatives. A quick read, it contains humorous references to French food and dining customs. I enjoyed it.
Oct 16, 2011 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This is the story of an Australian man (living in the United States) who marries a French woman, and impulsively moves to Paris with her even though he doesn't speak a word of the language and was raised thinking that white bread is squishy and block-shaped. The first year he is there, he is charged with cooking Christmas dinner for the entire family.

The book is light, engaging, and fun. I thought perhaps that there would be more mishaps and pratfalls, but it turns out that the author is actuall
Emily Von pfahl
A delightful and captivating read. Of course, if you don't enjoy food (including meat), France, or Christmas this is not the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.
Jan 01, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was extremely interesting and entertaining. I don't think one must be a francophile to enjoy it, but it cerainly does add to the reading experience. If I were moe of a foodie, I would enjoy it even more. I mean, the author created a Christmas dinner for 20 discriminating family members (all French--he's an Aussie) which included a flaming dessert and a whole roast pig, plus multiple other courses, including oysters. Hard to identify with, but fun to read about. It's a book I'll keep fo ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Stacey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: christmas
I am a sucker for anything with the Eiffel Tower on it. Combine that with a Christmas wreath and I thought for sure that this was going to be an awesome addition to my Christmas book collection. Wrong! If you are ever in charge of cooking a traditional french Christmas meal in France no less, then this is the perfect book. Each chapter goes into such boring minut detail on ingredient after ingredient that I was so utterly bored by the end of the first chapter that I actually had to force myself ...more
Nov 29, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This is definitely a case of the right book at the right time...This Thanksgiving weekend I was looking for something warm, light, cozy to get me into the holiday spirit. John Baxter is an Australian writer living in Paris with his French wife. He is also the chef for the family Christmas dinner. Baxter takes us through his menu planning, trips to find the best oysters, cheese, etc. Along the way he tells stories about his first dinner with the family, being a fish-out-of-water in France, and Fr ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorous, non-fiction
I don't what it is about this genre that I am enjoying so much, but I am! Found this book on a table at post-Christmas book sale and it was the unexpected delight of the holidays for me. Baxter is a good writer, witty and easy to read. I most enjoyed getting a taste of french culture-around Christmas and around food. I felt drawn in by his descriptions of different aspects of the tradition of the french Christmas meal and how he approached the task of creating a memorable meal for his relatives. ...more
Jul 08, 2009 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit disjointed since the author keeps shifting around in his chapters between preparing for a specific Christmas dinner and tangents that he follows in chapters thrown in the middle as the ideas seem to come to him. However, it is all very interesting. The divorced author (Aussie by way of California) married a second time into a French family. It's never clear why he became the designated chef for the family's Christmas dinner (maybe I missed that part), but the discussion of preparing the me ...more
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John Baxter (born 1939 in Randwick, New South Wales) is an Australian-born writer, journalist, and film-maker.

Baxter has lived in Britain and the United States as well as in his native Sydney, but has made his home in Paris since 1989, where he is married to the film-maker Marie-Dominique Montel. They have one daughter, Louise.

He began writing science fiction in the early 1960s for New Worlds, Sci
More about John Baxter...

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“Though griffe literally translates as 'claw,' Parisians have redefined it to mean 'stamp,' 'label,' or 'signature.' It describes the pattern of favorite cafes, shops, walks, meeting places, which each of us imposes on the city and which makes it uniquely 'our Paris.' A griffe is no trivial thing. As surely as a passport, it identifies one as a bona fide resident, with loves, hates, tastes, and prejudices.” 1 likes
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