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August 14, 2020

Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Book Two, by Carole Bumpus ~ a Review

by MK French

Carole and her guide Josiane continue their culinary tour of France in this second volume. Going north from Paris, they explore different regions of France. Collecting tales from the people as well as recipes along the way, Carole describes local festivals, the towns, and the legacy of World War I and World War II on the regions, even seventy-five years later.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table
August 2020; She Writes Press; 978-1631528965
ebook, print (376 pages); nonfiction
Like the first volume, this book is as much a travelogue and history lesson as it is a book about food. There are details regarding Carole’s and Josiane’s family, as well as the families of those Carole visits during the journey. With Alsace being so close to Belgium, there’s a Flemish influence to buildings and cooking in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Little bits of culture are passed along in these chapters of the kind that you don’t see in history books or in the language courses you would take. Class differences, like serving a dish with or without the “jelly” that is created from boiling down meat and bones, or even what ingredients are used are present in these stories. The family stories include members that had been involved in the battles taking place in the area. The effects of bombings, scarcity and the uncertainty of battles near villages have affected many of these families. There had also been a lot of immigration back and forth between France and Algeria in this time period, as well as in the present day. That had also influenced the stories and the cooking that Carole experienced.

Many American readers may not know the nuances of France’s involvement in the world wars, let alone their involvement in East Asia and Africa. It’s interesting to see how the everyday person viewed the military being overseas. They have “battle fatigue” of a sort, which also translated into some of the steps of the cooking. Some of the discussions regarding more recent changes in France are also interesting, as we generally aren’t apprised of other countries’ current affairs. The descriptions of the homes, roads, and places are wonderful, and I enjoy seeing the recipes in the back of the book. If only my children were a little more adventurous about trying new dishes as Carole is!

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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