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Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,201 ratings  ·  116 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
Feb 06, 2021 added it
Mr. Liebling lived among the smart set, sophisticates, folks that generally keep their distance from me, the real ones, that is. Reading his words today, which contain a rémoulade Larousse, caused me to imagine a snobby lush testing the boundaries of gluttony, all the while propelling the myth of une gastronomie supérieure. I did appreciate his detours into the boxing ring and also his reflections on Angèle, who once described him as pasable, a word which pleased Mr. Liebling considerably.
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. ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Liebling was a connoisseur of much more than food. He was a connoisseur of good stories and of the unpredictable details that make good stories so good. Anyone hoping to find in this book a detailed review of French cuisine will be sorely disappointed. Anyone open to spending a few hours in the company of a great writer and a great glutton of life will rejoice.
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.
Alex Marshall
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book that I had seen referenced so many times as a classic that would teach one about food, wine and life in France, in the first half of the 20th century. It did not live up to the hype. Seemed more like a collection of windy, self-involved tales from a glutton, as opposed to subtle commentary about food, meals and culture. I think what happened is that a lot of important people remember Liebling fondly, and so built the book up.

There is a great introduction to the
Jan 30, 2022 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this one even more after seeing The French Dispatch, and though it starts out strong, the essays become a mixed bag, everything from adroit adventures in restaurant hopping to less-focused essays on anything but food, rife with tangent after tangent. I caught myself skimming more often than not about halfway through, which quickly led to me setting it aside. When it shines, it's really fun and nostalgic, but when it doesn't, well... ...more
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.) ...more
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." :) ...more
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-travel
Great writing about great food and a vanished time.
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..:) ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a highly entertaining book. I wrote more at http://diningwithdonald.com/between-m... ...more
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.. ...more
May 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
It's funny how other reviewers of A.J. Liebling's "Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris" are disgusted by what a glutton he is. What else, exactly, are they expecting from a book with the words "meals" and "appetite" in its title to be about? Liebling, with his despair of the growing focus on the health of the human liver and how French doctors transitioned from just alleviating their patients' indigestion to trying to keep their patients--ahem-- healthy, would hold such readers in equal disdain ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightful read by a skilled writer - a memoire of sort, centered in Paris, a gathering of articles for the New Yorker (joined the staff in 1935), for which he wrote prolifically.

Food and wine, the restaurants and the people, beginning with some childhood memories, and then for a year's study (hardly) in 1926-27, returning in 1939 as a correspondent, and then many times thereafter - a "feeder" as he called himself ... someone who knew food because he ate huge quantities of it, washed down with
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
Brooke Everett
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, france
I was ready to be swooning over a Paris of bygone days, but unfortunately my narrator reminded me of a more cultured, flâneur-like version of Bobby Moynihan's Drunk Uncle character on SNL. I know, I know, Liebling was a legendary journalist, but the need for a snooze overtook me more frequently with this book than almost any other in recent memory. Some nights, I lasted 1 page. One page! I wanted to love it, and there were certainly nuggets scattered throughout that will always stick with me. Wh ...more
Caterina Pierre
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rather than a book solely about French cuisine and old restaurants in Paris, Between Meals is actually a memoir of A.J. Liebling’s student days in Paris during the academic year of 1926-27. Instead of going to his classes at the Sorbonne to study Medieval History, he used his monthly stipend to teach himself about French food. This is a lovely slice of 1920s Jazz Age Paris, and some of the restaurants he mentions, such as Laperouse and Drouant, still exist. In Liebling’s time, dinner at Laperous ...more
Jeanne Julian
Aug 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This memoir seems to take you back to when Paris was Paris, from the 1920s to the 1950s. I'm not sure why I like books by chefs and people who really appreciate fine food--by "fine," I don't mean gourmet, and that's a distinction this author made when he was a youngster teaching himself the art of eating. With little money to spend, he could still find the snuggest bistros with the most soul-satisfying traditional cuisine, befriend the owners (usually a family), and return again and again--or at ...more
Diana Suddreth
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Between Meals was just what I was looking for, some light, but beautifully written narrative to end the summer. I'd previously read Liebling's writings from WWII and appreciated his ability to tell a story while attending to the desired response from the reader. In Between Meals, I was treated to responding with appetite and hunger for more...more of Liebling's writings and more delicious French food. Liebling describes what I already believed to be true after my recent visit to Paris, the decli ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Liebling is always the most entertaining and observant of essayists. This memoir about living and eating/drinking in Paris is a tribute to over indulgence a vice that Liebling heartily endorses. These very indulgences probably sent him to his early grave but I expect that he would define the bargain as one well worth it. While you are there for the descriptions of incomprehensibly enormous meals you can linger over observations about the sporting life in France and the relationships between work ...more
As food memoirs go, this has something interesting on every page. At times I can't tell if Liebling is making fun of himself (probably): E.g., his love of Côte Rôtie and Tavel: Are they at the point of narration the only French wines he has drunk? Maybe. One of his main rhetorical tricks is to praise himself, but modestly, and then turn that very word on someone else: E.g., in the final chapter he has a defense of being "passable," which for Liebling is high praise: Then later he applies it to h ...more
Karen McCluskey
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Between Meals reminds me a bit of Peter Mayle's descriptions of eating in France but without the humour. Liebling's tales of being a "feeder" in Paris between the first and second world wars are enchanting: dated and yet perennial, filled with poetic waxing about how much better things used to be (in this case, in the Parisian restaurant scene). Thanks to Google, I supplemented Liebling's stories with research into the people and places mentioned. The quantities he describes people eating are as ...more
Mrs. Quinn
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always thought book Introductions should be read last as well as first, a theory that makes James Salter’s introduction a scene-setting start and a summative end to A.J. Liebling’s Between Meals. Libeling’s genius for packing a litany of stories into one is inspiring. His writing sports sharp and twisting wit. I found myself rereading passages just for the joy they expressed and the images they set in my mind’s eye. After reading this book I’m going to read it again. Then I’m going to find ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have re-read this at a time of virus abroad and it is even better than I recalled. Liebling's journalism has endured because he wrote with style, erudition and a great deal of wit. Some of his one liners are brilliant; and his more extended witticisms, such as the first paragraph of Between Meals, very memorable. This little book is fragmentary biography, loosely connected by the theme of Parisian food and restaurants. The set pieces include Liebling's attempt at rowing on the Marne, which is ...more
Geoff Burdick
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Based on the title and many high ratings, I was truly excited to read this book.
However, the two-star ratings got it right.
It's the first Liebling book I've read, and it's the last book he wrote, so as others point out, his earlier (perhaps better) works may have influenced some of the reviews.
I found it to be a disjointed, blustery collection, which felt, strangely enough, devoid of any passion for food.
I was also off put by a strangely sexist tone to some of the writing.
There are a couple gems
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Abbott Joseph "A. J." Liebling was an American journalist who was closely associated with The New Yorker from 1935 until his death. ...more

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“Moreover, these town toasts ate magnificently, and boasted of the quality of the meals their admirers provided for them. It was the age not only of the dazzling public supper but of the cabinet particulier, where even a bourgeois seduction was preceded by an eleven-course meal. With these altruistic sensualists, a menu of superior imagination could prove more effective than a gift of Suez shares; besides, the ladies’ hosts” 0 likes
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