Friday, December 5, 2008
Immoveable Feast - A Paris Christmas
Could there have been a more perfect book that was offered to me one day this past Fall? A representative from Harper Collins suggested that I might be interested in this new book coming out, a memoir about food and cooking and France. France and cooking and food. Was I interested? I certainly was. He couldn't have possibly tempted me more. Unless perhaps the word chocolate was involved.
Immoveable Feast by John Baxter made it's way to me and was even more than I expected. The book is described as the memoir of an Australian born gentleman turned Los Angles based film critic who marries into a traditional French family and is faced with the task of preparing their Christmas dinner. There are high expectations, indeed. This is the driving narrative of the book, but it is so much more. It is a memoir of Baxter's food life. He describes growing up on what was probably a typical diet for any Australian, British or American child at the time, things were boiled and served plainly, pasta came from a can. He describes having lunch with an Italian family at age ten, and his revelations:
This was fresh from the pot, and chewy, baptized with oil and garlic, and a pungent grated cheese that smelled like sick but tasted sublime. Their homemade bread wasn't spongy and white but crusty, dusted with flour, and delicious if you dipped it, as my hostess demonstrated , in olive oil and salt.
Baxter's love of food brings him to the next logical step, that is how to cook it, something I can relate to coming from a home with a mother who would not be described as a good cook. And this brings us back to Christmas dinner. Baxter designs his menu and seeks out the finest foods in France. From the oysters, to the wine, from the cheese to the piglet (this part is perhaps not for the vegetarian among us), we travel with Baxter as he puts together his feast and serves it to his French family.
Charming and delightful, full of lovely vintage food related illustrations, Immoveable Feast would make a wonderful gift for anyone you know that loves food, either cooking or eating it, and in particular who loves France or all things French.
Here are a couple of terrific videos:
This one is a recreation of Baxter's feast in a lovely Paris restaurant.
And here is a delightful interview with the author.