Offering a fresh and entertaining approach to understanding French history, through its food and wine, Steinberger reveals a radically changing France; a country moving through social and political reform, economic crises and, importantly, the loss of their seemingly unbreakable dominance in all things gastronomical. If the state of France's celebrated cuisine is the bellwether for the state of the nation, things are looking bleak.
Top chefs are renouncing their Michelin stars and prized farmhouse cheeses are going extinct because there is no one to make them. Bistros, brasseries and cafes fold by the scores and hypermarkets and superstores account for 75% of retail food sales. The famed wine-producing Languedoc is home to the world's first wine-terrorist organization - winemakers resorting to violence to protect their struggling industry.
But while there may be better baguettes in Tokyo than in Paris, and Spain has become the darling of the gastronomic world, there are glimpses of hope. There are up-and-coming culinary stars and outdoor food festivals, pockets of exuberance amid the gloom. And, as long as a praline millefeuille can be celebrated, savoured and allowed to assume talismanic qualities at a Right Bank tea salon, all is not lost.
Au Revoir to All That is an essential - almost edible - book for lovers of food, France and culinary history.
'One of the greatest books I've read. Magical, dreamy and romantic, with moments of sadness, it took me back to that young boy in the kitchen' Marco Pierre White 'Nobody who cares about French food and where it has gone wrong, could fail to be interested by this book' Sunday Times 'Enjoyable account of the woes that have befallen gastronomy...His argument that the decline of French food culture [...] mirrors a decline in the standing of France as a whole is convincingly made' Jay Rayner, Observer 'Worthy of a place in your hand luggage the next time you board the Eurostar' Daily Telegraph