Saturday, 25 July 2009

Book Review: Au Revoir To All That

Au Revoir To All That
Food, Wine, and the End of France
Michael Steinberger

Michael Steinberger is a long time magazine columnist. He writes about wine for Slate magazine, as well as writing about culture, politics, economy and sports for a slew of other top rated magazines.
In this book he turns his attention to the country that has historically been seen as the leading lady of classic cuisine. One cannot think of France without the romantic thoughts of perfectly crafted cheeses, breads, wines, and rich yet delicate foods.
Steinberger shows the decline of the French ideal; in the restaurants, vineyards, and farms. A mix of politics, globalization, stagnation, and inability to adapt are all key factors in the point that he is trying to make: as difficult as it was to have a bad meal in France in the past, it is now equally difficult to find a good one.
Steinberger is not shaming France, he truly loves the country and wanted to know it better, wanted to understand what factors have led to this beautiful country's slump in the culinary world stage.
I found the information that he presented very interesting, I enjoyed especially learning about the relationship between France and McDonald's, and the politics that govern the cheese and wine industries.
Steinberger does write like a magazine columnist though. I found the chapters to somewhat stand alone, some more interesting than others. In fact, some of his attacks on specific chefs seemed downright personal to me.
I did finish the book feeling that his investigation was a personal one, and that there was much more to learn, but I was also grateful to have learned what I had from the book and eager to read more about custom, culture and cuisine in France.