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A Food Tour of FRANCE

9th July 2024

Amuse Bouche: How to eat your way around France by Carolyn Boyd, a food tour of FRANCE.

A Food Tour of FRANCE

Amuse Bouche by Carolyn Boyd is the Francophile’s dream: a guide to the diverse regions of France that’s bursting with its food-related characters, history and flavours. The author is a journalist and was editor of France magazine, and her little black book of French contacts must be the size of a phone book. In Amuse Bouche, she highlights places that (to quote a phrase from the Michelin Guide) are “worth the detour”, and their culinary specialities. She also includes amusing stories about her travels, with and without her family, that are guaranteed to make you smile. In summary, it is a poetic ode to France from an author who knows and loves the country so well.

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Amuse Bouche is organised by France’s administrative regions and for each, the author details its typical foods and dishes. She further notes the confréries (brotherhoods) that come together to promote and celebrate these specialities, the museums and festivals dedicated to them, as well as where (and when, if the food is seasonal) to buy the most authentic version. And not just the products themselves: she often mentions the ingredients and their provenance, such as where a cheesemaker sources the herbs that he includes.

Amuse Bouche can be read like a regular book, from chapter one to the end, or there’s a handy index, so you could use it as a reference book to look up a recipe or ingredient. You could also focus on a particular region if you have a trip planned.

I appreciated the author’s assumption that – despite being a huge Francophile myself – I might not have heard of every food she mentions, and she considerately describes them in such wondrous detail that it’s hard not to drool. I’m equally pleased that she includes clues to pronunciation for particularly tricky words, like Maroilles (cheese), so that I need never make a fool of myself by getting it wrong again. Oh yes, it has been known!

You should read this book to discover:

  • Where might you see a dog-shaped black pudding
  • Which food gives Carolyn her own Nigella moment; to be eaten at night by the light of the fridge
  • Which region produces the rudest pastry, and
  • How snails can be slow but also fast.

The author has been visiting France frequently since she was young and is able to depict the unique features of each region perfectly. There are fantastic descriptions of locations, such as the seashore where grey boulders are “festooned with vivid green seaweed toupées”.

Sue for the TripFiction team

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If this book inspires you to explore France’s culinary delights, Amuse Bouche is exactly the right size to pack for your trip. There are recipes for many of the typical regional dishes, which will help you to use the French gastronomic swag you’ve crammed into the car to take home. Personally, I can’t wait!

Catch our reviewer Sue on TwitterX @SueKelsoRyan and on IG @SueKelosRyan

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