cover image The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

Justin Spring. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-374-10315-6

As Spring (Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade) points out in his excellent culinary history, six American writers introduced French cuisine to American restaurants and home kitchens and were responsible for the nation’s postwar love affair with French food and wine. Richard Olney, in Simple French Food and other books, demonstrated that good cooking was a matter of improvisation, like playing jazz. Julia Child and her collaborator Simone Beck Fischbacher produced Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which took the fear out of cooking French meals at home. Alexis Lichine introduced Americans to the bouquets and beauties of French wines in Wines of France and his more ambitious Alexis Lichine’s Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits. Alice B. Toklas delivered a memoir told through the recipes of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook after her companion, Gertrude Stein, died. Novelist turned food writer M.F.K. Fisher recalled her own glorious moments of eating and drinking as a way of writing about some of her darkest life experiences in Gastronomical Me, and New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling wrote about glorious French repasts with brio and humor in Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris. Spring’s book is a wonderful culinary history. (Oct.)