Au Revoir to All That
Food, Wine, and the End of France
By Michael Steinberger
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596913530, 256pp.)
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
List Price: $25.00*
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A rich, lively book about the upheaval in French gastronomy, set against the backdrop of France's diminishing fortunes as a nation.
France is in a rut, and so is French cuisine. Twenty-five years ago it was hard to have a bad meal in France; now, in some cities and towns, it is a challenge to find a good one. For the first time in the annals of modern cooking, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants in the world are not French. Within France, large segments of the wine industry are in crisis, cherished artisanal cheeses are threatened with extinction, and bistros and brasseries are disappearing at an alarming rate. But business is brisk at some establishments: Astonishingly, France has become the second-most-profitable market in the world for McDonald's.
How did this happen? To find out, Michael Steinberger takes an enviable trip through the traditional pleasures of France. He talks to top chefs--Alain Ducasse, Paul Gagnaire, Paul Bocuse--winemakers, farmers, bakers, and other artisans. He visits the Elysee Palace, interviews the head of McDonald's Europe, marches down a Paris boulevard with Jose Bove, and breaks bread with the editorial director of the powerful and secretive Michelin Guide. He spends hours with some of France's brightest young chefs and winemakers, who are battling to reinvigorate the country's rich culinary heritage. The result is a sharp and funny book that will give Francophiles everywhere an entirely new perspective--political, economic, personal, and cultural--on the crisis in the country and food they love.
Michael Steinberger is Slate's longtime wine columnist and a contributing writer for the Financial Times. His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times magazine, NYT Book Review, the Economist, Food & Wine, and Saveur, among many other publications. Previously, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Hong Kong, covering the city’s transition to Chinese rule, and he has written extensively about economics, finance, culture, sports, and politics for a variety of leading international media. He is married with two children.