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Paris Dining Guide by Waverley Root
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Paris Dining Guide

by Waverley Root

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Recently added bylanguagehat
food (1) guide (1) Paris (1) travel (1)

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Stanley Dry writes:

Restaurants open, close and change so frequently that even the most conscientiously researched restaurant guides are usually a bit dated when first published; and it’s all downhill from there. Relying on a guide that’s a year or two old can be, at best, problematic.

So why do I enjoy browsing in a Paris dining guide that was published in 1969? Certainly not because I’m planning a trip to Paris and am searching for restaurant recommendations. Not even to marvel at the prices of the period, though that aspect is certainly startling: an “expensive” meal, for example, cost $8 to $10.

The book has enduring value because of its author, Waverly Root, an American news correspondent who lived in Paris for more than 50 years, and in the process became a noted food authority. His books include The Food of France and The Food of Italy – both considered classics of gastronomy.

I enjoy reading Root’s Paris Dining Guide for several reasons, not least of which is the quality of the writing. The book is seeded with trenchant observations. A few examples will capture the flavor of his writing: “Anyway, people don’t go to Maxim’s to eat. They go to see or be seen. They have an insatiable appetite for looking at each other.” Or, again, “Let’s face it: the food here is pretty bad. But then it always was, and the point of citing the Dome is that visitors who want to recapture the atmosphere of Hemingway’s Paris can do so here.”

The book is a treasure for armchair time travelers because Root includes establishments “which you may enjoy visiting because in them you will get under the skin of this fascinating city.” Such as, “the eating places of a bowling alley, or a racecourse, of the zoo, of the lawyers in the Palace of Justice, of stockbrokers, or of diamond merchants who roll their precious baubles casually across the table like marbles. In these places, you can be an anthropologist rather than a gourmet.”...
1 vote languagehat | Feb 18, 2007 |
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