A Meal Observed (Paperback)

By Andrew Todhunter

Anchor Books, 9780385720205, 240pp.

Publication Date: April 12, 2005



Awarded three stars by Michelin, Taillevent is one of the finest restaurants in the world. Todhunter spent several months working in its kitchen in preparation for the divine experience of eating a five-hour meal in the nineteenth-century dining room. From the amuse-bouche (a warm cheese puff to amuse the mouth ) to the crowning glory of the fantasie, he perfectly captures the sensual pleasure of the meticulously served dinner. Along the way he expertly discusses everything from the state of French haute cuisine and the complexity of running a renowned restaurant to the chemistry of chocolate and the history of salt. A Meal Observed is a rare treat, a paean to the French and French cuisine that is as enchanting and richly satisfying as the meal it describes.

About the Author

Andrew Todhunter is the author of Fall of the Phantom Lord and Dangerous Games. Born in Paris and raised in the United States, he now lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.

Praise For A Meal Observed

“[Todhunter] is a master chef of a writer. . . . Well-written, clever and full of a great many details of what goes on behind the scenes at a three-star French restaurant.” —Newsday

“Enchanting. . . . When the final glasses of cognac arrive with the bill at 12:06 a.m., you’ll feel as sated as Todhunter did on that cool summer night.” –Entertainment Weekly

No trip to Paris would be complete without a memorable meal, but few are lucky enough to have the experience Andrew Todhunter shares in this seductive account of a luxurious dinner with his wife at the legendary Taillevent.

“Delectable. . . . It is a tribute to Todhunter’s prowess as a writer that the meal is as unforgettable to us as it is to them.” –New York Daily News

“Todhunter is a talented writer. . . . Nourishing, at times even scrumptious–a cozy neighborhood bistro of a book.” –New York Observer

“Todhunter intersperses sketches of the establishment’s various culinary magicians, disquisitions on French gastronomic lore, and dollops of memoir about the meals he ate growing up in America. . . . [He] is appealingly unsnobbish. . . . Eloquent.” –The New Yorker

A Meal Observed is a delectable read, one that leaves readers wanting to experience the pleasure for themselves.” –Associated Press

“Respect emanates from every chapter of this book. . . . [Todhunter] intersperses discussions of dishes with historical tidbits, personal reminiscences and behind-the-scenes looks at a restaurant that has long been considered a benchmark of classical French cuisine.” –Winston-Salem Journal

“Charming. Todhunter ventures into a place where he is not entirely comfortable, but where he has been longing to go. . . . The food and ambience are grand.” –The Arizona Republic

“Intriguing. . . . Along the way, the author serves up tidbits about the history and technique of French cuisine, and about the eternal link between food and emotion.” –Cond? Nast Traveler

“[Todhunter is] a spirited writer with a keen interest in fine food.” –The Washington Post

“Will appeal to the lip-smacking voyeur in all of us. . . . Todhunter’s two-pronged approach–detailing the culture that makes the meal and the culture where it is consumed–makes him a lively companion.” –Charlotte News Observer