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A Bite-Sized History of France: Delicious, Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  298 ratings  ·  95 reviews
A French cheesemonger and an American academic join forces to serve up a sumptuous history of France and its food, in the delicious tradition of Anthony Bourdain, Peter Mayle, and Pamela Druckerman
Nearly 3 million Americans visit France every year, in addition to the more than 150,000 American expatriates who live there. Numerous bestselling books attest to American Franco
...more
Hardcover, 1st edition, 256 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by The New Press
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4.09  · 
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 ·  298 ratings  ·  95 reviews


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Eve Recinella (Between The Bookends)
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I have been reading this book for a little over a week now. I finally finished it last night, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It isn't the type of book you sit down and read cover to cover, but it works well as an in between type of read. It was packed full of interesting facts and anecdotes about the history of France and its gastronomy. From Roquefort cheese to the wines of Bordeaux (and everything in between). It was a delightful read and one that made me want to rent a car and take a foodie tr
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Rosemary Standeven
I love French food (actually I love food full-stop), I love visiting France, and I am really interested in history, so this book was made for me. It is a staggering tour de force covering 2500 years of French history from the pre-Roman Gauls to the present day, showing the influence historical events had on the eating habits and cuisine of the time, and how they in turn influenced history. The authors’ aim is to show “how ludicrous it actually is to claim there is a “pure” and unchanging French ...more
Lady Alexandrine
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The more I read this book the more hungry I got :) Also, it was impossible to read this book without a glass of French wine.

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I have a confession to make: while I read this book I ate unprecedented amounts of French cheeses: Brie, Camembert and a variety of blue cheeses. The temptation was too great. Fortunately, I wasn’t on a diet, but if you are on a diet or plan one you should stay away from this book!

This is a history of France told from the point of view of a total gourm
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Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
A fascinating way to learn about France and Paris in particular, is through it's culinary history.
I really enjoyed the easy, conversational narrative this book has - it was never dry or full. Full of insightful commentary about pertinent events involving food and history. Highly recommended!
David
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-cooking
“Stepping out on your other book, eh?” was the response of the Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) when I told her that I was taking a summertime break from my difficult and serious Important Modern Novel to have a reading fling with this sweet young thing from France.

It's not what it looks like, I swear.

My relationship will this celebration of Gallic gustatory delights and historical quirks was very cerebral and purely platonic. Really. For example, this book made much clearer who Eleanor of Aquitaine
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Randal White
A fantastic way to learn history! Rather than another boring list of dates, people, and events, the authors take a completely different route. Use the deliciously wonderful foods of France to explain history!
Why did the Romans consider the Germanic tribes barbarians? One big reason was because they cooked their food with butter, rather than olive oil! They also drank beer instead of wine. How uncouth!
Did you know why soldiers called the Germans krauts? Because of their association with sauerkrau
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Emma
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
After reading "A Bite-Sized History of France," I've decided all history books should be centered around gastronomy. The book is written in truly digestible chunks; each chapter is only around 3-5 pages long, each based around some aspect of French gastronomy - from the essential wines and cheeses to more obscure culinary staples and oddities from across France. In the process, it covers everything from the early Gauls and the arrival of the Romans to the present day in a mere 286 pages.

"A Bite-
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Janet
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher ---
A French cheesemonger and an American academic join forces to serve up a sumptuous history of France and its food, in the delicious tradition of Anthony Bourdain, Peter Mayle, and Pamela Druckerman
Nearly 3 million Americans visit France every year, in addition to the more than 150,000 American expatriates who live there. Numerous bestselling books attest to American Fran
...more
Christina Dudley
This was a fun book for history- and food-lovers alike. The French-and-American author couple go from pre-Roman times right up to the present, regaling us with lots of mini food histories, collisions of culture, and who-knew? moments.

Food often served as class markers, nobles disdaining root vegetables in the Middle Ages, for instance, since that's what the peasants had to eat. At least they could plant a variety of root vegetables. By the 18th century, the poorest classes might get 95% of their
...more
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
A fascinating way to learn about France and Paris in particular, is through it's culinary history.
I really enjoyed the easy, conversational narrative this book has - it was never dry or full. Full of insightful commentary about pertinent events involving food and history. Highly recommended!
Tracy Rowan
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book that will get you up out of your chair to root around in the refrigerator for something really tasty to eat. It deals with bread, and cheese, and wine, of course. How could it not? But it also gives the reader an insight into how the potato came to be so loved in France, or what fruit excites the most anticipation in the summer (It's the plum. Who knew?)

It is a history of France, seen through the lens of its culinary interests and obsessions.  We learn, for example, that
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Alex Rychlewski
I came at this book with a different perspective from most readers as a decades-long French resident and lover of good French food and wine. As such, I found much of the book a basic rehash of French history with overly-long simplistic explanations, and not enough attention paid to food, which is what prompted me to buy the book in the first place... This is why I skimmed so much of it (read “en diagonale”). I freely admit that someone with no knowledge of French history would take away more fro ...more
Adrienne
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A week ago I listened to a podcast episode of "Stuff You Missed In History Class" on Marie-Antoine Carême, the first 'Celebrity Chef'. I learned so much about the history of cooking in France in the 30 minute episode and was wondering whether there was a book out there on this very topic. Fortuitously, I came across this book on Netgalley and devoured it in just a couple of days. I was not disappointed and I learned so much more about the history of France. The links between the political circum ...more
Collin Mickle
It's glib and unscholarly, but at least it's also much too long.
Stephanie Dagg
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is deliciously fascinating. What better way to learn about a country’s history than by being introduced to it around a certain food item, such as artichokes, wine or cheese. The author explains how politics, economics and culture link with food in ‘foodways’, which reveal a great deal about a country. We discover many such foodways in this book.
The book is like a plate of nibbles – bite-sized chunks of history and food at a time. We learn about Gauls as the same time as wine, Barbaria
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Shoshana
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a charming and delightful book this is. From rustic kitchens to haute cuisine, French food and gastronomy are the best in the world. This terrific book tells the story of how French cuisine came about. Starting with the Celtic Gauls and ending with the post WWII wrangles between France and the United States, this volume is chock-a-block with interesting tidbits about French foodways and French history.

Written by a Frenchman and his American wife, and infused with good nature and enthusiasm
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Deirdre
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting bits of history that I didn't know, and not all them about food.

Worst complaint? The font size made it very difficult for me to read without tiring my eyes and making me drift off to sleep many times. Way too small.

The other complaint I have is - there are no recipes! Definitely this book needs a companion book of recipes. Poulet Marengo, mentioned in this book, doesn't appear in French cookbooks anymore, and when I made it for my father when I was sixteen, I remember how we b
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thefourthvine
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, food, history
This book is 50% history, 30% food, and 20% travel brochure, and although that was not the ratio I was hoping for, it turned out to work pretty well for me. I suspect that the history would work best for people who (like me) know very little about French history, because when we got to the areas I did already know about, I spent a lot of time going, “But what about...?”

The thing I liked best about this is — okay. Most books written for an American audience about France are written in what I coul
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Beth Cato
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

The book proposes to tell the vast and complex history of France through its foods, and it succeeds. As a foodie and a history buff, I found the approach fascinating and amusing. The authors directly confront the contemporary insistence of the far-right that France's foods should be kept "French" by emphasizing that most every food France is known for has a lineage in ingredients or innovations from elsewhere. The history begins with Rome and its infl
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Margaret Sankey
This is a fun book with short chapters digging in to the culinary history of France--linking the Muslim invasion of the 8th century with goat cheese, Louis Xiv and his fondness for oranges (not Dutch people, oranges), the French Revolution and bread riots, the olive oil/butter and chocolate/coffee lines of demarcation in early modern Europe, the mother sauces and Julia Child's friend Simca and her dynastic connection to making Benedictine (and her use of this knowledge to aid her family's WWII s ...more
 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
I chose this book since I was planning a trip to Paris and was looking to learn a bit more on the cuisine that is infamous for it's flavors from the rustic to the more modern stylings. I loved learning about the history of France through it's culinary styles. I already knew quite a bit about Julia Child and have tried several of her recipes at home. So, reading and learning more about French cuisine was perfect for those inclined towards French food. A mouthwatering read that I would recommend. ...more
Ann T
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you the New Press and Netgalley for this ARC.

I was excited to have the opportunity to read this book in the lead up to our first visit to France. I thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of the book, learning about their food, history and other entertaining snippets in preparation for our arrival.
Amanda
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in France or French food, you'll love this book. It's written in an easy, entertaining style and a lot of fun to read and learn.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
Robert Günther
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book as a present and read it incredibly slowly on purpose, fearing that it might end too soon - as it eventually did. I'll definitely read it again next year, just to make sure I remember all the little food trivia :)
Ted
I'd like to have had Michelin Maps available to locate places mentioned in this informative history of food in France.
Shevon Quijano
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting book! The authors blended French history and gastronomy in a unique way. I learned so much. My only critique is that the book was too long. The chapters were, indeed, bite sized but there were just so many of them. At one point I thought...we’re still in the 1400’s?! Lol. Still, I really enjoyed this one.
Chelsea Sawyers
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fun little read for anyone who loves the history of food. French cuisine is hailed as on of the hardest and most revered cuisines in all the world. This book follows French food and it's advances from the Roman invasion to Julia Child's benedictine. It is one that will have you looking up recipes and grabbing some cheese and wine out of the fridge as you follow the next chapter.
Geoffrey
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
(Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

Culinary and national history pair like cheese and wine in this lovely read. Each chapter is easily digestible, yet also informatively packed, and they all open up separate but equally fascinating doors into France's long past and rich food history. Every part makes for a delightful mental meal of its own, and one can read through this one single snack-sized section at a time just as easily as they can enjoy it in l
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Jim
This was so much fun, i kept reading sections to whoever was in the area and it made me sooo hungry and thirsty. Well written, easy to quote or drop bits from at a bar and the weirdest thing - the notes are great! The book is almost an aphrodisiac.
Jill Elizabeth
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book this was! It's bite-sized in title only - it's actually a thorough, comprehensive, fantastically prepared history of France from the ancients to the current day, told with an eye to how history impacted the French gustatory and libation environment. It's well-written and -researched and thoroughly entertaining, as well as highly informative. It was an excellent find!

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.
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