It’s mid-afternoon on a lovely, mild day, with the sun shining and the squirrels racing and chittering through the bare tree branches. Thankfully it’s not too mild to enjoy a steaming cup of chai and a delicious Date Bar, as well as a slice of freshly baked Date Bread… mmm! (I just got back from a long walk, so I’ve earned it!)
I was in a book bind last week, as I didn’t want to read the one library book I had checked out and I just didn’t know what I wanted to read next. So I pulled Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery off my shelf and plunged right in. This amusing novel takes readers through the gastronomic history of a famous French food critic who, on his deathbed, is trying to determine the identity of that single elusive taste for which he longs but which always slips from his grasp. Pierre Arthens has made many chefs and restaurants famous and brought many to ruin with his acerbic commentary, both on the job and with his family. As he lay dying, he searches through his memories, highlighting various points in his life when food played a significant role, hoping to figure out what he’s longing for. In alternating chapters, we read stories told by various people (and pets!) in Arthens’ life. Some loved him, some despised him, some felt a kinship with him, and others have more complicated relationships with this difficult, complex man. Each chapter reveals more about him and the ways he affected those around him. It was a short book that was both amusing and easy to read, and there were some really insightful moments, but overall, I was rather disappointed. I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Barbery, and I guess I was expecting more of the same, since Arthens was one of the tenants in the building featured in The Elegance of the Hedgehog - in fact, one of the chapters in Gourmet Rhapsody is written by Renée, the concierge at this building, who is one of the two narrators in the earlier book. But compared to the philosophical nature of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Gourmet Rhapsody was pretty lightweight. It was well-written and easy to read, but I guess I was expecting something more akin to her earlier novel. It was OK, but I will not likely read it again so I can remove it from my shelf and make room for other books.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the sunshine and keep reading!Bye for now…