Lunch In Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

When you are effectively transferred to the setting of a book, you know it's well written. Elizabeth Bard turns her literal love story into a Parisian escape with brilliant descriptions of the city and heartfelt understanding of what it means to be French. This is a memoir about letting fate lead the way and going with your gut. Elizabeth is a transplant in Paris pretty much out of circumstance. Instead of fighting the path that life has her going on, she embraces it. It's not always easy but it sure is worth it.

In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman--and never went home again. 

Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavĂ© au poivre, the steak's pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce? LUNCH IN PARIS is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs--one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Packing her bags for a new life in the world's most romantic city, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size 2 femmes fatales. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen), soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate soufflĂ©) and develops a crush on her local butcher (who bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon). Elizabeth finds that the deeper she immerses herself in the world of French cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate. French culture, she discovers, is not unlike a well-ripened cheese-there may be a crusty exterior, until you cut through to the melting, piquant heart.

Peppered with mouth-watering recipes for summer ratatouille, swordfish tartare and molten chocolate cakes, Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home. In the delicious tradition of memoirs like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, this book is the perfect treat for anyone who has dreamed that lunch in Paris could change their life. 

I don't think there's a book set in Paris that I could hate, especially memoirs. They let me live vicariously through the protagonist which is something I always want to do when France is involved. Having been somewhat in her position in the past, I understand her resistance to everything French. Everything is smaller from apartments to cars to portion sizes. I also understand her inability to comprehend the French mindset although it took me far less time to accept and embrace it. I love that her story portrays an honest struggle of culture shock and not in the most obvious way.

When you think of culture shock, you think of a harshly different experience from the life you're used to. It doesn't have to be completely obvious though. It could just be the way of life. For example, the constant need to be on-the-go and doing something productive, usually involving work, that Americans have is almost completely absent in France. They can sit at a restaurant for hours just to eat lunch. We can't even give ourselves a 15 minute break without a laptop or phone in our face. Believe it or not, that slower pace and blatant respect for living life for you is a culture shock all on its own and it seems to take Elizabeth quite a while to adapt. I can relate as I've mentioned, to a point. I embraced the French style of living in France but living in America, it's much harder. I value life and I value the relationships I've come to have but sometimes I fall into this black hole of deadlines and needing to get ahead. But for what? 5 hours of sleep? Exhaustion so heavy you make yourself sick? It's books like these that bring me back to reality and give me a little European kick in the ass.

I loved this book. It's gotten some rough reviews on Goodreads and I didn't like it as much as I loved Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Elizabeth has a fantastic writing style that creates perfect visuals and her wit isn't in your face. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of the recipes which seems to be hit or miss on Goodreads. Maybe it takes a certain understanding to really enjoy this book as much as I and so many others did but if you give it a shot, I'm sure anyone would enjoy it. Besides, it's a fantastic summer read.