If the American culinary world had a hall of fame, we’re pretty sure the first inductees would be James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child, a trio almost single-handedly responsible for the birth of modern food culture.
So, when writer (and Fisher’s great-nephew) Luke Barr realized that all three had spent the winter of 1970 in rural Provence, he realized he had found a culinary time capsule.
Barr’s new book, Provence, 1970, is culled mostly from diaries and letters, and sets out to show how these legends revolutionized food in America and helped average Janes reach an equilibrium between high-processed "convenience cooking" and luxurious French fine dining.
The argument is sound, but the biggest delight is feeling like you’re part of the gang: We suffer with Beard as he reaches 300 pounds and is put on a hospital-supervised diet. We marvel at the collaborative nature of Ms. Child’s kitchen (she supplied all houseguests with a guide to local stores so they could pitch in with the grocery shopping).
And of course, we can’t forget about the food. From the crusty baguettes to the buttery sole meuniéres to the silky mousses and terrines, the winter unfolds as one endless dinner party.