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Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  814 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling recalls his Parisian apprenticeship in the fine art of eating in this charming memoir.

No writer has written more enthusiastically about food than A. J. Liebling. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, the great New Yorker writer's last book, is a wholly appealing account of his éducation sentimentale in French cuisine during 1926 and 1927, wh
Paperback, 185 pages
Published September 29th 1986 by North Point Press (first published 1959)
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Jennifer Wilson
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this in Paris. Often in a bathtub. Yes, I know I am a lucky woman.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
"Lamb larded with anchovies, artichokes on a pedestal of foie gras..." Take a bite of book.

(A)bbott (J)oseph Liebling (1904-1963), we learn, easily knocked back hot sausage, wild boar, lobster and various cheeses w wines and champagne at a meal. If you et as much as AJ, you too would become a battered fatso and drop dead at age 59. This, his last book, is a fuzzy-muzzy compiled of 3 or 4 articles, hence its gooey sense of dislocation.

Decades before the exclamation ejaculations of Tom Wolfe and t
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A.J. Liebling wrote press criticism for the New Yorker in the 40s and 50s; I’m told that these writings are the apex of the subgenre, better than his writing on boxing and food. His writing in Between Meals, essays about his year spent in Paris in the 20s, learning how to eat and drink, is very good. He’s an excellent storyteller. His style is also crusty and quaint, like an artifact unearthed from an archeological dig. It is helpful in reading this book to suspect vaguely what a perihelion or p ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: france
If you can read Liebling's Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris without your mouth watering for cassoulet, pot-au-feu or escargots en pots de chambre with a bottle of Côte Rôtie, you're made of stouter stuff than I.
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liebling is mad. May all the world be as mad as he. A personal account of how he cultivated his passions for food–and love, and consequently, life–while in Paris as a young man, accompanied by his observations on Paris as an older man. Liebling at his most charmingly fecund.
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Made me so excited to for next year! One great quote: Monsieur Pierre says, "Only 25% of my customers order a plat du jour...The rest take grilled things. It's the doctors you know. People only think of the liver and the figure. The stomach is forgotten." Ha! How great would it be if I could eat my way around France and never think of my liver or my figure? And then of course come back to the states and have my liver and figure totally fine...

It was such a wonderful, delicious read. I
Due to a combined misfortune of timing and circumstance, I have not been to the Paris that Liebling describes in "Between Meals." Given that this was Liebling's last book before his death in 1963, I suspect that the Paris contained within this slender book were no more than so many remembered meals by the time this was published. Regardless, Liebling's Paris recalls a time when people savored their food and drink. (Then again, this was also when our traditional notions of men and women dominated ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If this book doesn't make you want to get on a plane immediately to eat your way around Paris, nothing will. I love Liebling's writing--funny, touching, and erudite all at once, which is not an easy note to hit. Recommended for Francophiles, gourmands, and lovers of great writing. (He also has a collection of World War II writing that is excellent.)
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I found this on a list of books read in 1991, but I only remember one line from it, about eating a couple dozen oysters before a meal of cassoulet but not worrying about the volume of food "because oysters have no bulk." :)
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I will no longer consider myself pretentious about food....or anything, really. It's wonderful how even frequenting prostitutes is written about with great pretension..
Jun 15, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoir
I had some great meals in Paris recently so this title caught my eye! And now I'm hungry..:)
Lisa Tangen
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book at the encouragement of my husband. He's a big fan of AJ liebling especially his work on War Stories and sports stories. This particular book is a course about food and eating in Paris and mostly the 1920s and later. I know next to nothing about the topic so it was all new and someone interesting if a little little hard to follow sometimes. There were some passengers that I enjoyed this one in particular I appreciated quote my introduction to the wine at its best and in profusio ...more
Cordelia Shan
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
If we are only going to talking about the writing, Lisebling is a great writer. But, if we are going to talk about the book, I have admitted that, personally I am not emotionally attach with France, or Europe. I am crazy with the fashion, but not their food. French food only just a OK thing to me, my stomach is located in Japan. Japanese food is particular about freshness of food material, and how to keep the freshness after making them into dishes. Consequently, French food is all about the pro ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, cities-we-love
Brilliant writing. A gustatory memoir to Paris of the mid-1920's. A.J.Liebling wrote for The New Yorker and this book, which is more like a series of long essays, embodies some of that trademark wit and air of a bon vivant. Hedonistic and entirely endearing.
Gail Pool
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The eater’s apprenticeship, though less arduous, must be as earnest as the cook’s,” writes A. J. Liebling in "Between Meals," eight essays that explore his education in the art of eating. This course of study took place of course in France (“It goes without saying that it is essential to be in France.”) beginning in 1926, when, at the age of 22, he spent a year in Paris, technically registered at the Sorbonne but in fact haunting the city’s restaurants, cafes, and bars, acquiring expertise in t ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
right. AJ Liebling writes about food and eating and dieting and exercise like a crank, which is his job, and that's chill. like this:

In 1927, when I was on the Left Bank of the Seine learning to eat, Root, whom I did not then know, was champing his way through his own delightful and necessary apprenticeship on the opposite side of the river. (I use the verb "to eat" here to denote a selective activity, as opposed to the passive acceptance and regular renewal of nourishment learned in infancy. An
Ronald Koltnow
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am not one of those people who loves Paris. Never been there. I never dreamed of hanging on the Left Bank in the 20s with Hemingway and Stein. However, I do love food. A. J. Liebling's memoir of eating and drinking across Paris over the course of a few decades is one of the most joyous books I've ever read. Essentially a series of NEW YORKER articles strung together, Liebling's book about France is more or less an appreciation of pot-au-feu and Burgundy wines. In between there are pen portrait ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Splendid reporting, of a vanished time and world, by a brilliant writer / dedicated trencherman.

Came to this via Patrick Kurp, on Liebling and Logan Pearsall Smith:

"If I believed in reincarnation, I would want to come back as A.J. Liebling, who wrote beautifully and wittily (“fine writing”), and knew how to enjoy himself along the way. Smith and Liebling were born on this date, Oct. 18, in 1865 and 1904, respectively." --Kurp

Note, my 1986 North Point
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What an enjoyable read! It's as if you are there with Liebling at every moment -- indulging in all things delicious: butter, wine, oysters, women and Paris! It was even better beginning this book on the train from Amsterdam riding into Paris: my palate literally wet with anticipation of the food in the outlandishly beautiful French capital. Unfortunately for me, I fell ill and could taste almost nothing and so did not get to partake in the best pastime one could participate in....alas....will ha ...more
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lovely book harkening back to a time that no longer exists in Paris in the late 20s when food was still so very important to talk about, as was the wine. Liebling understood in writing this book how very fortunate he was to have been in Paris then and at that point in his life, just out of college. He was able to return again in 1939, a time when everyone was hoping there would be no war but much had already changed. The book was written in 1962 and much had changed again since his previous ti ...more
Feb 12, 2011 added it
Reading this book is worth it just to see Liebling's super-literal translations of German and French into English. For example, when he is speaking to a "Big Swiss" who works at a weight reduction clinic he has enrolled in, Liebling hungrily asks the Swiss about what he has been eating:

"And thou, eat thou this crap?" I asked him in my imperfect but idiomatic German. [Und sie, essen sie diese sheisse?]
"No", said Sprüdli, as he plucked my biceps like harp strings and let them snap."I need my stren
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: food-and-cooking
I picked this up from the recently returned shelf at the library. I had never read Liebling before. I like food and wine writing, and absolutely loved all the MFK Fisher books. As food writing, this was very dull. Liebling utterly failed to describe why he loved what he did. Boiled beef? Really? As humor, though, this isn't bad. The opening of the book, where Liebling asks you to imagine what a masterpiece Proust might have written if he'd been able to look back on the food of Liebling's childho ...more
Christopher Russell
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Don't know what took me so long to get around to this classic. I ripped through this. A cousin to "A Moveable Feast" and yet wholly different. Many wonderful sentiments. Here are two that I resonate with:

"The content of communication is unimportant. What counts is somebody on one end of a wire shouting, “My God, I’m alive!” and somebody on the other end shouting, “My God, I’m alive too!” -

"I have never personally inquired into the mysteries of its* fabrication; I am content to love a masterpiec
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Chuck by: Tom Spann
I was disappointed not because of the book, but because of my own expectations. I read the book because of my fondness for Paris and my desire to share a little of the culture from the pre World War II era. What I found was a book that read more like a gossip column on people, restaurants, chefs, passing acquaintances and Lieblings views on his liver, that all change is for the worst and his personal habits, which were at least, unusual. He was funny and many of his observations were clever, but ...more
Rogue Reader
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
The culinary reminiscences of this well known New Yorker writer, 1935-1963. James Salter's introduction describing Liebling towards the end of his life as a fat, slovenly glutton is unkind.

Liebling's palate comes of age in the early writings, as he learns to appreciate food and wine at an early age, and as it matures in Paris before the war. His sense of loss and regret at the changes he found in Paris after the war is palpable.

Fascinating narratives of Waverly Root and others who made significa
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic, cookery
This is just my glass of wine. (Who wants a cup of tea when we are talking about Parisian meals?!) One can smell the golden buttery crust of the savory pies of game, hear the clink of glasses and the murmur of corks being pulled and dinners being served all the while imagining a different era of restaurant dining ala Paris in the late 1920's. The amount of food eaten and wine drunk at each meal was epic. More on the changes to the scene while Liebling was a "war" correspondent during WWII and th ...more
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: france
This was a lovely follow-up to The Perfectionist. Liebling, a deceased New Yorker writer, published this collection of articles near the end of his life. The subject: eating in France. Most of the narrative concerns the late 1920s, when he was a student in Paris. Liebling considered himself a "feeder" - not a gourmet - and describes the truly massive meals he ate on a regular basis. Here's a funny little tidbit about the author: He worked briefly in the sports department of the New York Times, a ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
A nostalgic tour of between wars Paris. But don’t expect to meet Hemingway or the other classic expats, Liebling ran in different circles, circles where pursuit of the best possible meals was a vital part of life. You see, Liebling is a wholly unapologetic gourmand. Check your political correctness at the door and prepare to be bowed over by stupendous meals and a level of consumption that is borderline inconceivable today amongst the supposedly health conscious foodie class. Liebling’s wit is s ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rambling reminiscences of his time in Paris over a number of decades. This is one of the top culinary books of all time. And ends off with a chapter about his prostitute/mistress from the '30's.

Cranky (people are just so concerned about their liver now-a-days!)and witty (he compares a home made wine served by his hosts to a good Bordeaux - "They were both wet."). His eating habits are as much about gluttony as fine dining.

Excellent intro by James Salter, who knew a thing or two about Paris and
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Finishing this book is hard, you're left with a sad reminiscence of A) needing desperately to be in a Paris bistro no-matter-what and B) a yearning for a time long past when one was expected to order oysters, (possibly 18), then steak topped with beef marrow and finish it off with a cassoulet, or risk offending the chef. In 1927 Liebling was on the left bank learning to eat. And he did. Complied from four articles he wrote for the New Yorker (Including one on boxing). His prose and insights are ...more
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