Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co, 2015
This is the sequel to Lunch in Paris which I absolutely adored. Its one of my favorite French memoirs. The sequel finds us in a small Provencal town of Céreste with Elizabeth, Gwendal and their newest addition to the family, baby Alexandre. What I appreciated the most in this book was Elizabeth’s insightful views on parenting and the difficulties of parenting that no one ever wants to talk about. She spent a good portion talking about her difficulties bonding with her son. I think its something all new parents go through at some point of the early years.
Although Bard has lived in France for 10 years, she still feels like an outsider, always learning and growing. Although, as a side-effect, she lives inbetween worlds. Neither fully at home in France nor in the US. Her observations are poignant, and her chapters are short and to the point. She doesn’t dwell too long on any one topic and at times it seems like the chapters are lifted directly from a journal she kept. What I liked about the book is the small town they moved to. Céreste is incredibly small, and hardly even shows up in the guide books. Although it’s now found a place on the map with the emergence of Elizabeth’s and Gwendal’s ice cream shop, Scaramouche, in the town square. I’ve always loved Provence. When I think about my honeymoon, I think most about my time in Arles, not Paris. Surprise, surprise. I like the small glimpses into the casual everyday lifestyle of the country, rather than the generic generalizations of big-city living. I sort of wish I reread Lunch in Paris before picking up this book, because I feel like Elizabeth’s voice as a narrator has grown and matured in the years between the books.
At some point between books, Bard also wrote a cookbook? She makes a slight mention of it in one of the chapters, although I haven’t come across any cookbooks penned by the author. Unless she meant the recipes in these books. These wonderful sounding recipes that make your mouth drool with hunger and anticipation. One thing that I’ve always loved about Bard’s recipes is that she provides a mix of recipes from her life in the states and her life in France. Each recipe has a special story and place in her heart. It makes me want to jot down little stories that go with some of my family’s favorite meals and kitchen concoctions.
Sadly, with the book having a large number of holds on it at the library, I couldn’t keep it for as long as I would have liked. I didn’t get a chance to make any of the recipes in this book, although reading it did inspire me to pick up some new-to-me ingredients in the grocery store and try to create my own recipes for dinners. Most of which were semi-flops, so nothing worth reposting, unless you want a what-not-to-cook guide.