Friday, July 6, 2012

Provencal Highlights

We had an impressive crowd for a summer time meeting...and even initiated a newbie :-)
Thanks for coming down, ladies, and for all your delicious contributions.  It's hard to imagine that a restaurant would really serve all those items (and we only covered about half the list) as an appetizer to lunch.  I think a trip to southern France is in order.  In the spirit of the book, we should call Kate's parents and invite ourselves, then show up while they are busy with a construction project, drink all their wine, doze off during conversations and get sunburned.  Sounds like a great holiday to me!

What we liked about the book:

  • a few of us had never read a travel book before and were surprised by how much we enjoyed it!
  • we thought that this book almost seems like a love letter to the people, culture and food of Provence.  The writing is often clever, a bit cutting and full of affection - much like one would talk about a beloved but slightly annoying sibling.
  • the descriptions of meals were positively delicious!
  • Peter Mayle has a real gift for observation.  We liked how he noticed and described details that gave the country and the people such character.  The Mayle's country neighbours were eccentric and endearing.

What we didn't like about the book:

  • some of us were a bit bothered by the fact that nothing ever really happens in the book
  • we talked a bit about the complaints brought against this book after it was published (1. that it was a unfair picture of Provence  2. that it encouraged tourists and temporary residents).  We talked about how some rural villages are still very dependent on foreign temporary residents or on seasonal tourists and how that might foster some resentment among the locals, but doesn't take away from the essential role these visitors play.
All in all, a great read!  A few of us are on the lookout for the sequel Toujour Provence, and it's sequel Encore Provence.   I'm sure they will prove to be equality observant, clever and delicious.

PS.  To answer a curious question from last night, we have been meeting in one form or another since September 2007.  This coming September will be 5 years of books.  

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