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A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,396 ratings  ·  149 reviews
From the publisher of Under the Tuscan Sun comes another extraordinary memoir of a woman embarking on a new life—this time in the South of France. Thirty years ago, James Beard Award-winning author Georgeanne Brennan set out to realize the dream of a peaceful, rural existence en Provence. She and her husband, with their young daughter in tow, bought a small farmhouse with ...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published July 27th 2012 by Chronicle Books (first published March 8th 2007)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,396 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
For a good many of us, winter has long lost it's appeal. For moi, it never had any appeal. Too much cold, waayyy too much frozen white stuff. Well, take a staycation. Indulge in a trip to unfamiliar territory with tantalizing tastes. Go to France!
I have never entertained any notion to travel to France. Not on my bucket list, just have never wanted to go. But after reading this, I might consider it. Not your typical travelogue, the author invites you into her home and her life in Provence.From
Dec 10, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I thought this would be a cool book about an American family who decides to live in Provence, France. The author and her family have alternated living in California and Provence, but the book is just random stories compiled from all the times she lived there. The most confusing thing was in one chapter she's with her husband Donald and in another she's with her second husband Jim. What happened to Donald? Divorce? Death? What? Some of the chapters were OK, but I was expecting a continuous story ...more
This book was odd to me. I expected to like it a lot, & did like it some but not enough to highly recommend it. The food part was interesting & lived up to review promise but the personal part didn't. The author included information about her life in bits & pieces, not in sufficient amounts to really work. It needed a lot more detail, or a lot less with all emphasis on the people & food of France & none on her own life.
This book has a promising beginning. I typically enjoy books with chapters that tell a story followed by a recipe from the story, in fact I often follow that formula in my own blog at However, unlike a blog, a book works best if the chapters build together to tell an overall story with beginning, middle, and end. Although some of the first chapters tell entertaining stories about an American living with her husband and children in rural Provence in the 1970s, other chapters j ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, pleasures
Being my current obsession is France (don't let me down, Lady!) and food/farming, this book gives me the butterflies just thinking about it. It's also given me trouble on the vegetarian front: am I really? Don't I want to eat Poulet aux quarant gousses d'ail (yeah, that's one chicken, forty cloves of garlic), or roasted leg of lamb? Troubling indeed. But the book is wonderful. The book is about a woman who moves to Provence in the 70s with her three-year-old daughter and her husband. What it's r ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The opening chapters of this book were utterly captivating, and I looked forward to learning more about her and her husband and young daughter's experience moving to Provence, where they planned to provide for themselves by making and selling goat cheese. Then it abruptly ends with "we didn't do that for very long" and "then my second husband Jim" ....
The author had what could have been a series of excellent books about living in Provence an condensed it down to one book that covered a lifetime,
Jessica Journey
What a sweet life. As I read about Brennan's young family and their move to Provence, about 3-year-old Ethel clutching her baby lamb, my heart is seized with nostalgia for this life that isn't mine. This book has something that you don't always see in the "move to France" narrative: perspective. Brennan writes from several years in the future. Her kids have grown up, her first marriage has ended (for reasons undisclosed). We see seasons change and people age. Brennan and her family sell the hous ...more
Don't get too attached to the pig, folks! So many of the culinary aspects of this memoir reflect my own experiences. My siblings and I vied for the chance to dip bread into the liver juice. No, none of us ever ate the liver, but the vinegar flavored juice, yum!!
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enticing book on food culture in France that leaves you both salivating and ancy to get into the kitchen and experiment.
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France
By Georgeanne Brennan
4 stars

The warmth, the good natural food, the close to the land feel is all there in Georgeanne Brennan's memoir A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France. Which starts with Georgeanne, her husband Donald and her young daughter Ethel attempting to start a goat herd and begin making cheese to sell for a living. They have relocated to Provence during the height of the
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book were really interesting. The first three chapters, which describe Brennan's early years trying to get started as a cheese maker in a small village in Provence in the 1970s, include some very detailed food history, such as an up close description of "le jour du cochon", or the seasonal, day long process of slaughtering, dressing, and preserving an entire pig.

Brennan at her best is a full-sensory writer, and can set a scene really well. Pair that with her curiosity and interest
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A hidden gem written by a woman who lives part time in Provence, first when raising her young family, then on frequent visits. Not so much a memoir as much as it is a travelogue and fascinating exploration of Provence's agricultural and culinary traditions, like the tradition of walking sheep through villages to the Alps to graze in the summer, or the real tradition of making Marseilles bouillabaisse. Some stories are also framed by tales of the author's family living in Provence but the richest ...more
Betty C.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-expat
This book started out so well. It promised to be an expat tale unlike others; one of a (probably) hippy-style young California couple setting out to live off the land in pre-tourist invasion, pre-supermarket Provence.

But somewhere mid-memoir, the story line fritters away, and we are left with lengthy and overly detailed descriptions of various food-related events in Provence. But when do they take place? What happened to the first husband so prominently featured in the early chapters? Or even t
I admit I read this food/travel memoir over several weeks in fits and starts so I may not give it the fairest review. It spans forty years or more of food writer/cooking instructor Brennan's life mainly in Provence and a bit of California. The sensual details of food and farming/cooking traditions in Provence are well rendered but the book lacks a strong sense of direction, unlike Peter Mayle's work (my favorite writer about Provence). Recipes enrich the content and some readers may enjoy the bo ...more
Sigh, such a lovely life in Provence. I loved learning all the cooking and mushroom hunting nuances and traditions.

I'm convinced we can all bring aspects of this life with us no matter where we live or in whatever part of the world. It's about slowing down, growing your own food, raising animals if you can...and living the simple life.

Definitely a book I will refer to often. Being pregnant while reading this one her constantly talking about fish broth has made me crave it. We went to the fish
Catherine Woodman
I really enjoyed this book, which is a memoir of a life in Provence for a Californian over the course of several decades--the focus is very appropriately on food and the importance of making, growing, preparing, and eating food has in the region. there is a great chapter on starting a goat cheesemaking operation, and another one on making stuffed vegetables that made me want to make this this summer, immediately. Another good theme is the 'use everything' aspect of living that I really love and ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book about French cuisine in the Provence region. It was hard not to feel like you were tasting all that was described. I will attempt some of the recipes, but butchering a pig won't be one of them!
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, and there are some lovely moments that allowed me to give it two stars. Overall, though, a meandering mishmash of stories in search of a good editor.
Meredith Malburne-Wade
This is a food memoir: there are some pieces of stories throughout, but the main purpose and focus is on the culture and history surrounding food and food practices in Provence. I found this memoir very enjoyable and an excellent review of food and culture in the region. The story that is woven in could be a little more developed, but it isn't distracting from the text overall. As someone about to teach a class on food and literature, this text is a bit niche and pretty perfect: it includes reci ...more
Jerry D.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
What happens in Provence......

The first two chapters gave me high hopes that this book would be a revealing glimpse of village life in Provence and whether that lifestyle would come kicking and screaming into the twenty first century.
There were well woven stories of personal stories with good descriptions of the people, culture and food. After that there were only brief flashes of a few friends over many years followed by recipes I'll never have the ingredients to prepare well.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a used book fair and had no clue what it was about. Turned out the author lived in France for a number of years and this is a collection of stories about her time there mostly about the food she learned to cook. I know that some of the other reviewers didn't much like this book but I liked it a lot. It made me want to go back to south of France and taste their wonderful food. Everything there is simple and rustic but so good.
Janet Clark
This was less about food and more about process than I would have expected. Pig slaughter was interesting to learn, but didn't improve my appetite or taste for French foods. The bouillabaisse was much too complicated. Oh, and what happened to husband #1? Fun read for people with sturdy stomachs.
Carmel Ann Sperti
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gastronomic Poetry

A PIG IN PROVENCE is a delightful blend of culture, travelogue and poetic homage to good Provencal food. Brennan invites us in
to the graceful swirl of people, farming and crafting of food like guests at one of the rural dinners she describes. This is the French equivalent of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN.I thoroughly enjoyed my escape into this book!
Lynette Metza
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy read, entertaining and there is a classic Provencal recipe at the end of each chapter. Brennan captures the true spirit of the place and the importance of food and the land in the culture. It is a great preparation for a first trip to Provence.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable book (with some recipes) about Brennan's time spent living and cooking in Provence over the years. She shares stories about the people she knows there (many of whom have become like family) and their way of life.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, ebook
I'm a fan of food memoirs that focus mostly on the food and this was one of those. She describes the different types of meals and dishes and learning to cook in the regional French way with great detail and a fluidity that was very easy to read. I can't wait to try some of the easier recipes.
This wasn't the best written book I've ever picked up, but if you're into France and French food, this is a fun read. The stories were charming, and should inspire any proper Francophile to learn some new dishes and plan a trip to the south of France. So glad I read this.
Read this just after returning from Provence, which helped me relive some of the joy of being in that part of the world. Not particularly well written, but I enjoyed the stories of Brennan's family adventures (US citizens moving to Provence to make cheese).
Anne C Kerrigan
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting well put together read.

I choose because I like life stories and this one was quite rich in local province history. Would be lovely to take a lesson or two in France at her home.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good cooking book set in Provence where the author lives, teaches, and writes cook books.
The life in the countryside is focused on farming, wine and olive oil making, and the incredible
celebrations as vegetables, farm animals, and fish surface and mark the seasons in the south of France.
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