This book, Picnic in Provence, captured my heart a little… Okay, a lot. I’d already read the predecessor to this book, Lunch in Paris, and loved it. And, while I adored both, the sequel stole a little more of my heart…
Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes
by Elizabeth Bard
“Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris. Now, with a baby on the way and the world’s flakiest croissant around the corner, Elizabeth is sure she’s found her “forever place.” But life has other plans.
On a last romantic jaunt before the baby arrives, the couple take a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste. A chance encounter leads them to the wartime home of a famous poet, a tale of a buried manuscript and a garden full of heirloom roses. Under the spell of the house and its unique history, in less time than it takes to flip a crepe, Elizabeth and Gwendal decide to move-lock, stock and Le Creuset-to the French countryside.”
When I started Picnic in Provence, I was curious. As Elizabeth says, “Picnic in Provence is about what comes after the happily ever after.” At that my interest was peaked. Sort of in the same way that I always wonder what other adventures take place after the typical “the end” of a fairy tale. Like on The Princess Bride, for instance.
On one hand, one might think that a “happily ever after” in Paris is as close to a real life fairy tale as you can get. But, the thing that I really love about both books is how realistic they are. The story isn’t sugar coated, like a typical fairy tale is. You get a real taste of authenticity in these books. I guess that’s the main difference between a memoir & a novel, isn’t it? lol
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little crazy about the Parisian lifestyle. I love to read books like How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are or Lessons from Madame Chic. Now with this book, the couple departs from the City of Love, and opts for a life in a village with a considerably smaller population. Considerably. I immediately thought, “Why…? Why would you leave zee beautiful & romantic Paris?” ← Notice I used my best French accent there.
I’ve already told you that Picnic in Provence is my favorite of the two books. And since I had some reservations at the start, perhaps you’d like to know what particular elements won me over? There were a lot.
For the Love of Rural-ness
I’ve practically always lived in the country. I actually live on a farm right now. With cows & chickens & things. Psst… wanna hear a secret of mine? I personally used to own sheep. And rabbits. And horses too. Yes, my friend, that was me.
I’m the type of country girl that dreams of big cities. But when I get there… certain elements ruffle my feathers a little (gosh, that sounds like a dumb chicken joke…). Like the insane amount of people everywhere. Call me claustrophobic, but I have this pet peeve about breathing someone else’s carbon dioxide…
For the Love of a Slower Pace
Do you ever stop to smell the roses, my dear? I don’t know about you, but I wish I allotted more time in my life for such things. And after reading Picnic in Provence, I really have a craving to go mushroom hunting (or better yet, truffle hunting). Just some such thing that gets me away from my laptop, and out doing something new & interesting.
There are a variety of activities that the book brought to my attention. Like picking figs, harvesting saffron, and making ratatouille in order to use up the annual surplus of summer’s veggies.
For the Love of Cooking
It is “a memoir with recipes” if you’ll remember. And so many yummy sounding ones, that I really don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start by telling you about one recipe that I just tried out recently… Hungarian Cherry Cake! This recipe was actually shared with Elizabeth by her friend, Kim. You can find the recipe on Elizabeth’s site.
I was intrigued by the fact that the only rising agent in the recipe was egg whites. “What? No baking powder?”, I was aghast. But still, quite curious. I figured there must be a trick. And that there was a probable likelihood that my first attempt at Hungarian cuisine would be a failure.
But, what do you think? Does this look like a failure to you? I think not. 😉 Personally it surpassed my expectations, and I received the addition satisfaction of my family’s raving enthusiasm. Really, they did rave about it!
You see now why I’m quite anxious to try out more recipes from the book.
For the Love of Entrepreneurship
I can’t go into too much detail on this, because it might be a bit of a spoiler. So let’s just say, an element of the book certainly helped to encourage my entrepreneurial spirit!
All in all, this book did have quite an affect on me. I found myself craving some different things in my life, not to mention re-discovering a few of my passions. From wanting to be more adventurous in my cooking, to thinking how I too would love to live in the French countryside… But of course, who wouldn’t want to?
So tell me, aren’t you just dying to read Picnic in Provence now? Do you have any other books about France you’d recommend? Leave a comment below & we’ll chat!
If you liked this post, you also might enjoy: 6 Classy Non-Fiction Books to Read on the Plane.