Review – Picnic in Provence

Picnic in Provence – Elizabeth Bard

HarperCollins, 2015

It’s been about a decade since Elizabeth Bard was swept off her feet by a handsome Frenchman and moved to Paris. In that time she’s learned the correct way to communicate with cheese mongers and how to wheedle recipes out of her in-laws, but when she and her husband spontaneously decide to move from a Parisian apartment to a historic rural cottage – while she’s pregnant with their first child – it opens a whole new set of questions. How do you talk your neighbours into sharing the secrets of mushrooming? What’s a successful blend of American heritage and French upbringing? What’s the trick to making artisan ice cream? And how do you figure out motherhood when your own mother is on the other side of the world?

This is the sequel to Elizabeth Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris, a light-hearted memoir/recipe collection exploring her first years in France. Picnic in Provence leans more heavily into memoir territory, with candid details into family conflicts and her struggles with parenthood, but Bard’s love of food and her (mostly) fond exasperation with French culture lead to lots of culinary experiments too. As a vegetarian, not all of those were enjoyable for me to read! And of course, as an Australian, American cultural expectations are just as surprising to me as the French ones, but her anecdotes are interesting and sweet. For more of her work, her website is here.

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