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On Rue Tatin
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About the Author

SUSAN HERRMANN LOOMIS, the author of five cookbooks, is a regular contributor to publications such as the New York Times and Gourmet. She owns and operates On Rue Tatin, a cooking school. For more information about the school, consult www.onruetatin.com.

Reviews

Loomis, an American chef and author of Farmhouse Cookbook and The Great American Seafood Cookbook, enthusiastically recounts every aspect, both intriguing and mundane, of her immersion into the cuisine and lifestyle of northern France. She moved to Paris in 1980 to study cooking and, after a rough start, found her place as a weekend visitor at one family's home in Normandy. After cooking school, she went back to the States, returning to France frequently to visit friends. It wasn't long before she became addicted to Normandy's fresh ingredients goose, garlic, rabbit, wild mushrooms and rich gastronomy, and found herself longing to live there. In 1994, Loomis and her husband moved to the region and bought a dilapidated convent in the small town of Louviers. Her tales of adventures in restoration and run-ins with locals (e.g., the crotchety priest next door, the incorrigibly gregarious rug salesman) are funny, but certainly familiar, especially given that many recent books have told similar stories about ambitious expatriates' forays into rural European life. The cookbook/travelogue/memoir hybrid has become an overcrowded genre, and Loomis's doesn't distinguish itself. Nevertheless, few food writers have depicted Normandy so attentively, and Loomis has compiled an impressive collection of savory recipes that evoke the region's best, including Civet D'Agneau (Hearty Lamb Stew) and Roti de Cuisse de Sanglier (Roasted Leg of Wild Boar). Furthermore, classic Gallic personalities are accurately and engagingly rendered, making this more than just a culinary memoir. (Apr.) Forecast: This work targets Francophilic gastronomes, but probably won't break out of that niche. Nonetheless, the success of Loomis's cookbooks should help boost this title's sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Here are two culinary memoirs by American women now living in France. The similarities end there, as one author went to France for the food and stayed for the life that grew up around her, while the other moved to France for its own sake and realized that she'd better learn to cook once she became engaged to a Frenchman. In On Rue Tatin, Loomis, a food writer and an accomplished cook, recalls her initial journey to Paris to attend cooking school. Her apprenticeship at La Varenne cole de Cuisine led to a job as an assistant to food writer Patricia Wells and a lifelong fascination with French cooking and culture. Eventually, in 1994, she and her family permanently settled in a medieval convent on Rue Tatin in the Norman town of Louviers. Interspersed with her lyrical descriptions of daily life in urban and rural France are 50 recipes from a simple frittata to a complex pot au feu culled from both famous chefs and the local fish seller. The author prepares most of the dishes in her own home, and American readers should be able to do the same in a well-equipped kitchen though they may have trouble finding a leg of wild boar at their local supermarket. In French Fried, Rochefort (French Toast) writes about how her obsession with French food became a personal one when her French husband-to-be announced that they could not afford to keep eating in restaurants for the rest of their lives. There are a few recipes, most of them for "basics" such as vinaigrette or homemade mayonnaise. More of a general commentary on life in France as seen through its cuisine (one helpful tip for tourists: don't go into a restaurant and order only a salad or a sandwich because this is something you do in a caf; restaurants are for meals), French Fried is the book to purchase if your patrons are looking for an informal travel guide. Buy both books if you are able; and if you regularly answer reference questions about the cooking of wild boar, you'll definitely need On Rue Tatin. Wendy Bethel, Southwest P.L., Grove City, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Where many American writers merely love France, Susan Loomis knows it: its smells and people and manners . . . she is as natural a writer as she is a chef."
-Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

"Susan Loomis has written a radiant love letter to France-particularly Normandy-its countryside, food, markets, and people. Buy it and settle down for good reading and an occasional sortie into the kitchen."
-Barbara Kafka, author of Soup: A Way of Life "Susan Loomis shares with us her rich family life, a world of amazing French friendships, and proves, most of all, that each and every dream CAN come true!"
-Patricia Wells, author of Patricia Wells at Home in Provence

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