Tasting Paris

When people ask, “What kind of books do you like?” I feel like they expect me to answer with a genre. But it’s not as easy as that. My reading list is all over the place: classic literature, science fiction, cozy mysteries, contemporary thrillers, historical fiction, the rom-coms of Elinor Lipman, the nerdy massive tomes of Neal Stephenson, and the British mysteries of Elizabeth George. I don’t care so much about genre, but for me to love a book, it must have two things: a strong sense of place and at least one character I can root for.

It’s unusual for a cookbook to embody those characteristics, but Tasting Paris: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local pulls it off—this is a beautiful cookbook that reads like a memoir.

The lastest from native Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier (Chocolate & Zucchini), it feels like the result of a travel guide and cookbook that fell madly in love—in Paris, n’est-ce-pas—and made a baby that embodies the best of both. Clotilde’s breezy writing whisks you away to Paris from the first page, and she’s  your guide to the best food that modern Paris has to offer. “This is the book I’ve long wanted to write,” she says, “to share the many and wonderful flavors of Paris from a local’s perspective. A cliché-free Paris that reflects the way real Parisians eat today.”

The book’s recipes are divided among day part—morning, noon, afternoon, evening, late night—and represent the global influences that have been incorporated into the traditional French cooking of Paris. There are classics like Roast Chicken with Herbed Butter. Chicken & Pistachio Terrine, and Steak Frites (with oven fries), along with newer dishes that reflect the way Parisians eat today: Spiralized Zucchini Salad with Peach and Green Almonds, Moroccan Orange Salad, Turkish Lamb with Eggplant, and so many more irresistible things.

I’m eager to make the omelette aux chips et ciboulette (potato chip and chive omelet). Why haven’t I ever put potato chips in an omelet? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! Make it with Jackson’s Honest Chips (cooked in coconut oil), and it’s an excellent paleo-friendly treat. Which brings me to my next point: Although there are croissants and brioche in this book (of course and thank goodness), there are dozens of recipes that naturally fit into the paleo framework or can be easily modified. When you buy the book, you’ll get access to recipe modifications/substitutions to accommodate your eating preferences, along with an exclusive mini-guide listing all the places featured in its pages, a set of menus, and more helpful goodies. C’est bon!

Within the pages of Tasting Paris (and her excellent blog), Clotilde is the character that’s always on your side. As she says, “With these recipes, you can adopt the smug air of the cook who can whip up a bistro classic in minutes.” And she’s right. Her instructions are clear, her words are encouraging—you’ll feel like she’s in the kitchen with you, keeping you company and helping you along. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day in Paris eating things and talking about life with this woman?

In addition to the recipes, short essays and charming recipe notes give you the inside scoop on Paris culinary history, the current restaurant scene, shopping at the street market, picnicking along the Seine, and how to choose the best ingredients in your own shopping trips. I’m an adventurous eater, and we’ve visited Paris several times—but now I feel like I need to visit again as soon as possible to explore the places Clotilde recommends in her book.

Tasting Paris: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local is out now. Treat yourself!

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