Loomis, an American chef and author of Farmhouse Cookbook and The Great American Seafood Cookbook, enthusiastically recounts every aspect, both intriguing and mundane, of her immersion into the cuisine and lifestyle of northern France. She moved to Paris in 1980 to study cooking and, after a rough start, found her place as a weekend visitor at one family's home in Normandy. After cooking school, she went back to the States, returning to France frequently to visit friends. It wasn't long before she became addicted to Normandy's fresh ingredients goose, garlic, rabbit, wild mushrooms and rich gastronomy, and found herself longing to live there. In 1994, Loomis and her husband moved to the region and bought a dilapidated convent in the small town of Louviers. Her tales of adventures in restoration and run-ins with locals (e.g., the crotchety priest next door, the incorrigibly gregarious rug salesman) are funny, but certainly familiar, especially given that many recent books have told similar stories about ambitious expatriates' forays into rural European life. The cookbook/travelogue/memoir hybrid has become an overcrowded genre, and Loomis's doesn't distinguish itself. Nevertheless, few food writers have depicted Normandy so attentively, and Loomis has compiled an impressive collection of savory recipes that evoke the region's best, including Civet D'Agneau (Hearty Lamb Stew) and Roti de Cuisse de Sanglier (Roasted Leg of Wild Boar). Furthermore, classic Gallic personalities are accurately and engagingly rendered, making this more than just a culinary memoir. (Apr.) Forecast: This work targets Francophilic gastronomes, but probably won't break out of that niche. Nonetheless, the success of Loomis's cookbooks should help boost this title's sales.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001 Release date: 04/01/2001 Genre: Nonfiction