Carol Cram's Love Among the Recipes
After finding out her husband is unfaithful, cookbook writer Genna McGraw takes off for Paris for 6 months with a small advance from her publisher to write a cookbook with recipes paired with famous places, a “crossover cookbook/guidebook” such as the Eiffel Tower or Louvre.
The loves of author Carol Cram are evident, from her wonderful descriptions of art, food and, of course, Paris. What a perfect read for Valentine’s Day!
Carol writes a blog about art and travel, her knowledge evident in both. Why did she select Paris? Carol told me, “I wanted to write about a city that I loved and so Paris was the obvious choice.”
Unlike Genna, when I moved to Paris, I was newly married and couldn’t cook. Like Genna, I couldn’t speak French and struggled for many months in the present tense with some embarrassing and some hilarious results until I became conversationally fluent. I learned French partially by food shopping in the boulangerie down the block where I bought our morning baguette, in the small épicerie where I bought my groceries and the outdoor stalls where fabulous fresh produce tempted me. I shopped with a little panier (hand-held basket), shopped every day (because we had only a tiny dorm room size refrigerator) and learned to cook.
Genna of course was way ahead of me in cooking but over the years I have made most of the wonderful recipes that Genna pairs with her famous sites, which bring back memories of Paris for me. For any Francophile or anyone, in fact, who has never been to Paris or eaten French food, her novel is a culinary tour book on one level and a hesitation in searching for love.
Genna is filled with confidence when cooking and dining out and an emotional mess when meeting possible new relationships, scarred from her husband’s infidelity. Carol told me, “I wanted her to be a bit endearingly clumsy and to not have everything in her life figured out. I think most of us, at times, have experienced feelings of doubt and anxiety about our choices, and I wanted Genna to reflect that commonality.”
This novel is about friendships as well as food and romance. As so often in real life, friendships often revolve around food. Food is a way of connecting us to each other and a way of creating memories. Many of us love shopping for food, preparing it and sharing it with others, as Genna does. Food bridges differences in language or age, temperament or beliefs. Carol said that food particularly connects her “with Monsieur Leblanc, her curmudgeonly landlord.” M. Leblanc was one of my favorite characters, unpleasant and argumentative at first, then slowly through Genna’s fabulous meals, his soft interior comes through. “Pretty much every interaction Genna has with her new friends involves food in some way….”
Carol told me she may be writing a sequel—I know I’ll be looking for it!
So many delicious foods were included in Love Among the Recipes. I have prepared a great deal of French food over the years, and of course what we ate in France, so that it was very difficult to choose a recipe! When Genna visits the famous cathedral, Notre Dame and sees its glorious Rose Window, she thinks of a Tarte Aux Fraises, Strawberry Tart, both with beautiful colors arranged in a circle.