My Life in France

Bon Appétit

But I was a pure romantic, and only operating with half my burners turned on.

Good french cooking cannot be produced by a zombie cook.

I admired the English immensely for all that they had endured, and they were certainly honorable, and stopped their cars for pedestrians, and called you “sir” and “madam,” and so on. But after a week there, I began to feel wild. It was those ruddy English faces, so held in by duty, the sense of “what is done” and “what is not done,” and always swigging tea and chirping, that made me want to scream like a hyena

I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one's hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as "Oh, I don't know how to cook...," or "Poor little me...," or "This may taste awful...," it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, "Yes, you're right, this really is an awful meal!" Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed -- eh bien, tant pis! Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile -- and learn from her mistakes.

If variety is the spice of life, then my life must be one of the spiciest you ever heard of. A curry of a life. -Paul Child

I'm afraid that surprise, shock, and regret is the fate of authors when they finally see themselves on the page.

In the blood-heat of pursuing the enemy, many people are forgetting what we are fighting for. We are fighting for our hard-won liberty and freedom; for our Constitution and the due processes of our laws; and for the right to differ in ideas, religion and politics. I am convinced that in your zeal to fight against our enemies, you, too, have forgotten what you are fighting for.

It's easy to get the feeling that you know the language just because when you order a beer they don't bring you oysters. (Paul Child)

It was fun, although we felt like pawns, or prawns, in the maelstrom.

Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you'll have a marvelous time!

Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.

...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.

...nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.

One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.

...operational proof...it's all theory until you see for yourself whether or not something works.

Remember, 'No one's more important than people'! In other words, friendship is the most important thing--not career or housework, or one's fatigue--and it needs to be tended and nurtured.

She was my first cat ever, and I thought she was marvelous.

Standing up through the Citroen's open sunroof, my six-foot-three-inch, red-cheeked sister pointed a long, trembling finger at the perpetrator and with maximum indignation yelled: 'Ce merde-monsieur a justement crache dans ma derriere!' Her intended meaning is obvious, but what she said was, 'This shit-man just spat out into my butt!

...The more I learned the more I realized how very much one has to know before one is in-the-know at all.

There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry- architecture being perhaps the least banal derivative of the latter.

The sweetness and generosity and politeness and gentleness and humanity of the French had shown me how lovely life can be if one takes time to be friendly.

...the waiters carried themselves with a quiet joy, as if their entire mission in life was to make their customers feel comfortable and well tended.

This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!

Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which cause me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, 'scientific' though. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.

Was it a sign of Creeping Decrepitude?

We are so bemused by our own petard, that we are unable to look at things objectively.

We ate the lunch with painful politeness and avoided discussing its taste. I made sure not to apologize for it. This was a rule of mine.
I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make...
Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is vile,...then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile- and learn from her mistakes.

When I wasn't at school, I was experimenting at home, and became a bit of a Mad Scientist. I did hours of research on mayonnaise, for instance, and though no one else seemed to care about it, I thought it was utterly fascinating....By the end of my research, I believe, I had written more on the subject of mayonnaise than anyone in history.

You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,' [Chef Bugnard] said. 'Even after you eat it, it stays with you - always.