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A Meal Observed

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  91 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Awarded three stars by Michelin, Taillevent is one of the finest restaurants in the world. Todhunter spent several months working in its kitchen in preparation for the divine experience of eating a five-hour meal in the nineteenth-century dining room. From the amuse-bouche (a warm cheese puff to “amuse the mouth”) to the crowning glory of the fantasie, he perfectly capture ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Anchor (first published February 10th 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Jessica
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathryn
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.
Jenna Ward
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A great read for Francophiles and foodies, the book is both about and similar to a long evening in a fine French restaurant, with meandering conversation about food, one's past, the nature of cooking, and the history of the restaurant and its staff, as plate after plate of superb food is served over the course of four hours. The food itself is given less attention than its preparation and the staff who prepares it, and provides a glimpse of the dedication necessary to preserve the three Michelin ...more
Ben
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa
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
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
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dottie
Nov 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005, own
Probably not for everyone but I enjoyed it.
Karyn
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and enjoyable read; went overlong in places but a nice read for sitting on an airplane on the way back from Tempe.
Karen
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
expertly captures the motivation and appreciation of haute cuisine
Jade
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book - got me into reading about meals & cooking opposed to just cookbooks.
Lu
Feb 22, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, france
philosophical retelling of a meal at renowed paris restaurant
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