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A witty cultural and culinary education, Immoveable Feast is the charming, funny, and improbable tale of how a man who was raised on white bread—and didn't speak a word of French—unexpectedly ended up with the sacred duty of preparing the annual Christmas dinner for a venerable Parisian family.

Ernest Hemingway called Paris "a moveable feast"—a city ready to embrace you at any time in life. For Los Angeles–based film critic John Baxter, that moment came when he fell in love with a French woman and impulsively moved to Paris to marry her. As a test of his love, his skeptical in-laws charged him with cooking the next Christmas banquet—for eighteen people in their ancestral country home. Baxter's memoir of his yearlong quest takes readers along his misadventures and delicious triumphs as he visits the farthest corners of France in search of the country's best recipes and ingredients. Irresistible and fascinating, Immoveable Feast is a warmhearted tale of good food, romance, family, and the Christmas spirit, Parisian style.

Topics: Family

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061982309
List price: $9.99
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Paris. Sigh. I’m a sucker for anything-Paris. I’m so blinded by the beauty of Paris that I can’t properly evaluate any set-in-Paris book. And this story is doubly-blessed: (1) set-in-Paris and (2) about food.So, frankly, you will have to read this for yourself and see what you think. I loved it, but I’m afraid that really doesn’t tell you very much.more
Although author John Baxter was born in Australia, it's France that he calls home. He moved to France in the late 1980s to live with the woman who is now his wife. Cooking is his avocation, and somehow he ended up as the official cook for his wife's family's Christmas dinners. This short memoir intersperses his plans for the current year's Christmas menu with reminiscences about earlier events in his life, including his first Christmas dinner with his wife's family. He's a good storyteller and finds humor in many of his experiences. The main downside of the book for me is that he sometimes shares more than I care to know about the very personal details of his life. Recommended with reservations for readers who enjoy literary travel or food.more
John Baxter has written a gem of a book about his love for French culture and French food in his A Paris Christmas-Immoveable Feast . But don't believe the Amazon hype on this book. Rather than being some "multi-year journey" to find the "best possible Christmas dinner" for his "French wife's family", Baxter's engaging book focuses on how he ( a transplanted Australian with minimal cooking experience) managed to finally "fit" into French family traditions (mostly unstated and learned via painful mistakes!) over 15 years, including taking over cooking Christmas dinner for an extended (20 people or more) French family. And it is not a Paris Christmas, rather one in Richebourg--quite a distance from Paris, but reflective of how French families actually do celebrate Christmas. You can read it in a few hours. It is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially if you are a fan of the French and their cuisine.more
A nice read...made me hungry. Reminded me a lot of the Peter Mayle 'Provence' books. And now I know to never go to Paris for Christmas : )more
Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas manages to reinforce the mystique of French cooking while making me believe that I, too, if blessed with the perfect ingredients, could cook a perfect French Christmas dinner. John Baxter endears himself to his wife's ancient French family through the wonderful stories he tells and somehow ends up responsible for procuring the ingredients and cooking the family's holiday meal. His joy in tracking down the perfect wine, cheese, oysters and pig make for a memorable feast. A seasonal read suitable for a long winter's evening or a series of tasty bites. more
My wife bought this book at the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris a year ago and I decided to give it a read hoping that it would put me in the holiday spirit. Essentially, the book recounts all of the emotional, cultural, and logistical maneuvering that occurs in preparing the Christmas feast for one's extended French family. In the author's case this was made more challenging by the fact that he is French (only by marriage) by way of Australia - not exactly known as a culinary hotbed. The author figured what better way to be accepted then to prepare the feast. While Baxter was successful in his task, as for my initial purpose, the book failed. I was in no more a holiday spirit than before the reading - bah humbug. As for the evocation of things Parisian, it succeeds immensely. I was immediately taken back, for example, to our first meal in Paris last year, when bistro La Palette leapt from the page. Ah, the memories. Baxter's broad strokes is just as successful as Adam Gopnik's detailed layers in Paris to the Moon in describing the Parisian gestalt from an outsider's perspective.more
Normally, I love "foodie" books. This is one that I didn't enjoy that much. The narrative seemed to be very disjointed. The descriptions of the foods seemed to be very brief. The author was an Australian who married a French woman and moved to France. I expected more of the story to focus on Christmas, but only the last few chapters were really seasonal. I enjoyed some of the illustrations much more than the book itself.more
The witty recounts of an Australian writer who follows his girl-friend to France and makes a Christmas dinner for his future in laws. Good explanations of the food, but the French family he described is not the average French family - most French families are a lot less religious than the one he describes, so do not take his story has a true French Christmas family dinner. Keep in mind that the insights he shows are with only one French family.more
Read all 10 reviews

Reviews

Paris. Sigh. I’m a sucker for anything-Paris. I’m so blinded by the beauty of Paris that I can’t properly evaluate any set-in-Paris book. And this story is doubly-blessed: (1) set-in-Paris and (2) about food.So, frankly, you will have to read this for yourself and see what you think. I loved it, but I’m afraid that really doesn’t tell you very much.more
Although author John Baxter was born in Australia, it's France that he calls home. He moved to France in the late 1980s to live with the woman who is now his wife. Cooking is his avocation, and somehow he ended up as the official cook for his wife's family's Christmas dinners. This short memoir intersperses his plans for the current year's Christmas menu with reminiscences about earlier events in his life, including his first Christmas dinner with his wife's family. He's a good storyteller and finds humor in many of his experiences. The main downside of the book for me is that he sometimes shares more than I care to know about the very personal details of his life. Recommended with reservations for readers who enjoy literary travel or food.more
John Baxter has written a gem of a book about his love for French culture and French food in his A Paris Christmas-Immoveable Feast . But don't believe the Amazon hype on this book. Rather than being some "multi-year journey" to find the "best possible Christmas dinner" for his "French wife's family", Baxter's engaging book focuses on how he ( a transplanted Australian with minimal cooking experience) managed to finally "fit" into French family traditions (mostly unstated and learned via painful mistakes!) over 15 years, including taking over cooking Christmas dinner for an extended (20 people or more) French family. And it is not a Paris Christmas, rather one in Richebourg--quite a distance from Paris, but reflective of how French families actually do celebrate Christmas. You can read it in a few hours. It is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially if you are a fan of the French and their cuisine.more
A nice read...made me hungry. Reminded me a lot of the Peter Mayle 'Provence' books. And now I know to never go to Paris for Christmas : )more
Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas manages to reinforce the mystique of French cooking while making me believe that I, too, if blessed with the perfect ingredients, could cook a perfect French Christmas dinner. John Baxter endears himself to his wife's ancient French family through the wonderful stories he tells and somehow ends up responsible for procuring the ingredients and cooking the family's holiday meal. His joy in tracking down the perfect wine, cheese, oysters and pig make for a memorable feast. A seasonal read suitable for a long winter's evening or a series of tasty bites. more
My wife bought this book at the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris a year ago and I decided to give it a read hoping that it would put me in the holiday spirit. Essentially, the book recounts all of the emotional, cultural, and logistical maneuvering that occurs in preparing the Christmas feast for one's extended French family. In the author's case this was made more challenging by the fact that he is French (only by marriage) by way of Australia - not exactly known as a culinary hotbed. The author figured what better way to be accepted then to prepare the feast. While Baxter was successful in his task, as for my initial purpose, the book failed. I was in no more a holiday spirit than before the reading - bah humbug. As for the evocation of things Parisian, it succeeds immensely. I was immediately taken back, for example, to our first meal in Paris last year, when bistro La Palette leapt from the page. Ah, the memories. Baxter's broad strokes is just as successful as Adam Gopnik's detailed layers in Paris to the Moon in describing the Parisian gestalt from an outsider's perspective.more
Normally, I love "foodie" books. This is one that I didn't enjoy that much. The narrative seemed to be very disjointed. The descriptions of the foods seemed to be very brief. The author was an Australian who married a French woman and moved to France. I expected more of the story to focus on Christmas, but only the last few chapters were really seasonal. I enjoyed some of the illustrations much more than the book itself.more
The witty recounts of an Australian writer who follows his girl-friend to France and makes a Christmas dinner for his future in laws. Good explanations of the food, but the French family he described is not the average French family - most French families are a lot less religious than the one he describes, so do not take his story has a true French Christmas family dinner. Keep in mind that the insights he shows are with only one French family.more
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