On Rue Tatin: The Simple Pleasures of Life in a Small French Town

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9780006532453: On Rue Tatin: The Simple Pleasures of Life in a Small French Town

Beguiling, aromatic memoirs of a cookery writer, settling in a small Normandy town, very similar in flavour to Under the Tuscan Sun.

The second house that Susan Hermann Loomis looked at in the small town of Louviers was perfect. Dilapidated, rambling, crumbling walls which were covered with faded paper, it had been a convent. So Susan, her husband, luckily a sculptor and builder, and small son, moved in – to spend a year and more, rebuilding, finding new hidden treasures of their house, and discovering their neighbours, and the life of a small French town.

Some of the great pleasures of the book come from sharing in Susan Loomis’ daily journeys: to the market, to the butcher and the baker, talking to the shop keepers and the teachers at the school, and meeting the clergy who tramp through their garden. As her son joins the local school, as Susan’s cookery work gets underway, so the reader is part of all the human – and gastronomic – experiences that shape this very French town.

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Product Description:

On Rue Tatin A bestselling cookbook author and journalist tells the delicious story of her expatriate life, raising a family, renovating a convent, and savoring the culinary bounty of one of Normandy's most picturesque towns. Full description

Review:

For an expat chef to live on a French street named after a recipe is almost beyond belief. Yet On rue Tatin is so inviting the that the book's recipes are only incidental to Susan Loomis's stories about living in France.

Setting up house in a foreign country is a genre that draws any reader who relishes the struggles from arm's length. It would be a shame, though, to limit Loomis's audience to Francophiles and food freaks. Many of the vignettes are beautifully crafted. Her story begins when she lands a job as food writer Patricia Wells's assistant and jumps through years and layers of life as she and her architect husband DIY a house--a small 15th century convent--in a village in Normandy. There are problems, as anyone who has crossed the channel in pursuit of a home can attest, put succinctly by a Parisian friend.

"You must understand, it's normal," he said. "You've arrived here like a cheveu dans la soupe--a hair in the soup. No-one asked you to come. And, you're American." Through chapters on her brushes with the laws, the priest, the rug salesman and neighbours, there is a sense of honesty in the writing. The French are not all good or all bad, and neither is she. The transition from foreigner to American to Joe and Fiona's (her children) mere, is gradual and poetic in its lack of a defining moment. Food, though, is very important at opening more than one French door. The recipes that accompany each chapter are varied in taste and in difficulty. And anyone thinking of buying a "serious" cooker must read the chapter "La Gazinière: The Stove". Naturally, she ends the book with a recipe for Tarte Tatin. -- Kathleen Buckley

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Loomis, Susan
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