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In Joie de Vivre, Robert Arbor, a Frenchman transplanted to New York City, explains the French philosophy on life and argues for its adoption by stressed Americans. In a funny way, this is sort of a self-help book for people who admire the French lifestyle, and for those who believe that good food is the secret to a happy life. The premise of the book is that you will find "domestic happiness" when you learn to enjoy the most mundane details of your everyday life: "It's about making time for family, growing some vegetables in your garden, chatting with the butcher and cooking for your family and friends." Quality of life, explains Arbor, is only improved when your pillowcases smell like lavender, and you make your own hot chocolate.
Although there are 50 recipes dispersed throughout the book, Joie de Vivre is not a cookbook. Most of the recipes are for dishes such as A Really Good Fried Egg, mayonnaise and café au lait, but there are interesting ones too, such as Carrot Râpée, Beet Vinaigrette and Fish in Papillotte. The recipes are included more as a way to better describe the French experience and to show how easy it is to adopt as a way of life; a method that works particularly well for those of us who know that the best way to understand and appreciate a foreign culture is through its food. --Leora Y Bloom, Amazon.com
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