Have you heard that French cuisine is dead?
The question has been asked and debated over for around 300 years. It was dying during the reign of Louis XIV. It was gasping for breath during the revolutions of 1789 and 1968. Writers from Elizabeth David to Adam Gopnik have attempted to answer the question. And now, Michael Steinburger's, Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine and the End of France is not only asking the question but answering it as well.
Mr. Steinberger, an admitted Francophile, succintly presents a history of French cuisine and why it is the standard by which other cuisine's and ways of eating have been measured. His expertise in finance, economics and politics gives a unique perspective to the newest challenges to French cuisine.
His story is salt and peppered with personal anecdotes of great meals and quests for the ultimate mille feuille. Even as he describes the crisis and ennui that seems to have invaded the kitchens and vineyards you can feel his empathy for France's struggle to survive this latest assault. Through his interviews with top chefs, farmers, wine makers and famous editors, you will feel that you have an insider's view of what's really going on in the country.
But more importantly, for me, Mr. Steinberger demonstrates that in spite of all the economic, financial and political pressures, there are still many passionate people in France who are battling to re-invigorate and retain France's rich culinary heritage.
As Michelin says - il vaut le detour - loosely translated - it's worth the read. Pick it up today.