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Travels with Alice

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  532 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
This delightful book collects Calvin Trillin's accounts of his trips to Europe with his wife, Alice, and their two daughters. In Taormina, Sicily, they cheerfully disagree with Mrs. Tweedie's 1904 assertion that the beautiful town "is being spoilt," and skip the Grand Tour in favor of swimming holes, table soccer, and taureaux piscine. In Paris, they spend a day on the Cha ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published July 23rd 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainMy Greek Traditional Cook Book 1 by Anna OthitisMedium Raw by Anthony BourdainMy Life in France by Julia ChildHeat by Bill Buford
Great Books about Food
106th out of 182 books — 122 voters
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About Food
58th out of 65 books — 20 voters

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Community Reviews

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Susan Johnson
Feb 18, 2016 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this charming, funny book about travel and food. In the beginning he discusses how Americans travel and I was laughing so hard it almost hurt. He talks about long summer trips in the backseat of a car driving across America. It reminded me of my youth when we took 3 weeks every summer and travelled across America and Canada. We would be driving across the more boring parts of Texas and my dad would yell at us to get our noses out of our books and look at the "lovely" scenery he ...more
Aug 10, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing
Calvin Trillin seems like someone you’d like as a friend. He’s witty, full of good stories, and can appreciate the smaller pleasures the world has to offer. His writing suggests that it’s better to be warm, amusing, and inclusive than edgy, preposterous, and bigger-than-life. This book ties together anecdotes and observations from various trips he, his wife Alice, and their girls had taken through the years. Local cuisine was often a focus. My own wife and I liked Alice’s criterion for judging t ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Bev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: logos, travel
Now this was more like it. Delightful travel book by this staff writer for the New York Times is essentially a food tour through So. France, Italy, New York, Barbados and parts between. I loved this book on so many levels, not the least of which was that most of the places he describes (in scrumptuous detail) are places where I have been. I love reading what might have been had we not been on a tour. Specifically, you must learn about taureaux piscine, which combines bullfighting and swimming. S ...more
Dec 16, 2010 jennifer rated it really liked it
Trillin recounts his travels all over the world with his wife Alice and their two daughters and various friends. The essays are often about food, but also about culture, language and Trillin's obsession with "babyfoot" across Italy. I especially liked the essay about his need to verify the authenticity of American-style fast food at the Champs-Elysees by dragging four children around the neighborhood and forcing them to eat and critique burger after burger.
Nov 02, 2009 Susy rated it liked it
I found this book in a "to be sorted" box of my sister Alice. For a 20 year old little travel memoir written for his beloved wife Alice, Calvin Trillin delights with his witty and urbane narratives of some of their favorite destination spots. While others might wear themselves out seeing all the sights in Provence or Capri, the Trillons and their travel friends find the best cafes to enjoy pommes frites among other delights and people watch. I have some new destinations on my bucket list after r ...more
Jun 21, 2014 MariaK rated it did not like it
I didn't like Trillin's writing at all. Way too many adjectives that clutter the text, too much beating around the bush. He goes on and on and on about Mrs. Tweedie's opinions on Taormina; if I wanted to read pages and pages of someone else's views, I would have bought that someone else's book. Then he goes on and on about "taureaux piscine", a fun and curious activity which became very boring and annoying after reading about it for the Nth time. Overall I think Trillin tried too hard to be funn ...more
Jill Jaracz
Mar 08, 2016 Jill Jaracz rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
This collection of travel essays was good plane reading--I managed to polish it off on a two-leg travel day.

Trillin's humor is subtle and sly, and he's a traveler's writer--for those who travel a lot and have had your travels seep into your everyday live, he's your kind of guy. These essays talk about several trips to Italy, France, Spain and the Caribbean with his wife and daughters--how Trillin deals with language barriers and food issues (mostly fantastic), and unusual sports.

This was a fun
Barbara Mader
Nov 12, 2010 Barbara Mader rated it really liked it
a twenty-something could not have written this book.
Aug 05, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, food
A book about travel in which Trillin spends most of his time describing great meals he has had. As a special bonus we learn about the sport taureaux piscine, in which players attempt to get a bull to chase them into a swimming pool. I am tempted to travel to France just for that. Here is a video of a bull that seems to be having a great time leaping in and out of the pool in pursuit of teenage boys:
Aug 14, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I'm halfway through this lackadaisical tour through Europe -- if in the 19th century they took the Grand Tour, this would have to be dubbed the Mini Tou -- and charmed by its irreverence and sly wit. My favorite sentence so far sums up everything wrong with the way this family approaches taking their kids to France and everything right with it as a summer vacation:

"I realize that in the matter of parents' responsibilty to pass on some appreciation for the culture of the Western world there is an
Alicia Riley
Aug 17, 2016 Alicia Riley rated it did not like it
I didn't like the writing style - too many fluffy adjectives, and it seemed the author just went off on a tangent a lot of the times.
Sally Bennett
Sep 22, 2014 Sally Bennett rated it it was ok
Usually, I love travel memoirs. This one, however, was just too much for this vegan, animal-rights reader to handle. Mention of unusual meals seemed to contain only animal parts, and the topic seemed to be the focus of each chapter. If not the eating of, then the exploitation of animals (taureaux piscine) told in an isn't-this-funny and who-cares-about-the-animals way.

A seasoned traveler myself, I understand and appreciate all the differences in cultures, and that's what I'd hoped to discover i
Apr 11, 2016 Steve rated it it was amazing
Trillin is wonderful, as always. Two of the stories don't involve Alice, which is kind of weird.
Colleen Jefferies
May 03, 2014 Colleen Jefferies rated it it was amazing
I had forgotten how entertaining Calvin Trillin was! If you love a good story or even more good food, read this book!
Mar 23, 2016 Pam rated it really liked it
I really enjoy the writing of Calvin Trillin. His sense of humor and love of life are captivating.
Jan 28, 2016 Linda rated it liked it
I just plain enjoy his tongue-in-cheek style. Lots of fun.
Mar 27, 2015 Kara rated it it was ok
not for me. this was given to me as s book club pick, so I worked through it (even though it took me a while). I thought the author came off as kind of an entitled dick (like, I think it's his humor? but I can just picture my eyeballs rolling out of my goddamn head if I spent any time with him). I think I would've been more interested if it focused more on the "with Alice" instead of the "travels," but I suppose that's a different genre.

also keep in mind that I have 0 interest in traveling and
Nov 03, 2014 Ronn rated it really liked it
I had this book sitting around for quite a while before I finally got around to reading it. Trillin's travel writing is as entertaining as his food writing, and almosst as food oriented as his food writing.
Mar 15, 2016 Elspeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
Not a good as his later, Feeding a Yen.
Jennifer Shepard
Mar 20, 2014 Jennifer Shepard rated it really liked it
perfect blend of food, travel, and humor.
Jul 06, 2010 Ak rated it it was ok
Nearly done. Started out very funny, then the humor quickly petered out - at most a half-smile every ten pages or so. Can't shake the impression throughout that the entire book is a thinly veiled excuse to brag about his or family members' [fill in the blank - discernment, brilliance, precocity:]. Also gives the plain impression that he greatly favors his younger daughter to his older, which is distracting and a little disturbing.
Mar 30, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it
I want to hang out with Calvin. His idea of a special trip is a tour of Renowned Neighborhood Taverns of the Industrial Midwest. But because he loved (LOVED) his wife Alice, they went on special trips to Italian gardens, French villages and Caribbean islands, and ate everything in sight. Calvin appreciates taureaux piscine on a higher level than most people. This was a library book, but I need to own it, in case of emergency.
Sep 02, 2012 Martha rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
This funny book flags a bit at the end but until then it's a laugh out loud travel book whose adventurers eschew cathedrals for doing a survey on the best places to buy gelato. I am thinking this was out of the box travel writing for the 80's. Now hunting down the golden mushrooms and scarfing up creamy crap soup is to be expected. I hope Trillin was as fun a dad as he comes across here!
Sep 05, 2009 David rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, food
A very pleasant book, except for the last part about his wife’s super expensive birthdays. A series of very loosely connected travel essays about Europe and the British Caribbean, it is like Paul Theroux light for the well healed upper middle class. Or for readers who like travel books but don’t want to be troubled with history, insights, or the people who live in the visited countries.
Jan 19, 2010 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
Sweet, silly, and utterly lacking the service element so ubiquitous in travel writing today. I especially liked his quest to bring Italian to the West Indies (his hatred of the food in the Caribbean is a foundational tenet, as is his deep devotion to his wife and the idea that the best travel experiences involve just "hanging around").
Apr 06, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it
Trillin has a great sense of wit to liven up his travelogue of foreign destinations. I enjoy his obsession with food, and his easy going way. He seems the perfect man to travel with a wife and two daughters. If you like reading about other people's travels, you will enjoy this book.
May 05, 2010 Carol rated it liked it
Calvin Trillin is always amusing and since he writes about food, my favorite subject, I always find something to enjoy in his writing. That said, this was not my favorite. Too slow paced and his humor did not have the natural flow that it usually has. A bit forced.
Jan 17, 2012 sophie rated it liked it
Calvin Trillin is funny... in small bits. The joke wears a little thin in this book about him looking for hole-in-the wall culinary treasures, their family not doing enough cultural tourism, and Alice being a princess. I can't fault a man for loving his wife though.
Mar 29, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
A sweet, funny travel memoir, centered on the author's love of food! Made me long to be in France or Italy again, or at least chowing down on the cuisine :) Extra poignant because of Calvin Trillin's great love for his late wife, Alice.
Leila Cohan-Miccio
Mar 05, 2012 Leila Cohan-Miccio rated it it was amazing
I want the Trillin family's life - a world in which a magazine dude and an educator can afford a brownstone in the village and take a month long vacation every year. I also just want to meet Calvin Trillin. He is the best.
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Calvin (Bud) Marshall Trillin is an American journalist, humorist, and novelist. He is best known for his humorous writings about food and eating, but he has also written much serious journalism, comic verse, and several books of fiction.

Trillin attended public schools in Kansas City and went on to Yale University, where he served as chairman of the Yale Daily News and became a member of Scroll an
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“I suppose it's possible that the Sundance Kid didn't like to make much of his birthdays — they may have struck him as just another reminder that his draw was getting slower by the year—but what if he truly liked a major celebration? What if he looked forward every year to marking the day of his birth with what they used to call in the West 'a real wingding, with pink balloons and a few survivors'?” 3 likes
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