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A man of Rabelaisian appetite, with the exquisite palate of the true gastronome and the literary flair to match, A.J. Liebling (1904-1963) was a formidable eater and a remarkable man, and his nostalgic recitation of his years and meals in Paris is a pleasure to read, dream on, and drool about.
Liebling treasured a good appetite as a prerequisite for writing about food, as his accounts of substantial meals (two portions of cassoulet, one steak topped with beef marrow, and a dozen or so oysters, for example) attest. For the poised, precise, literary, and humorous flavor of his writing, you need only crack open the book--any page will do. Liebling recounts how to dine superbly without being lead astray by too much money, and he digresses magnificently on the evils of abstemiousness ("No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures; no ascetic can be considered reliably sane"). In this age of diets and pragmatic health care, it's refreshing to read such an inspired and inspiring ode to pleasure. As a means of savoring a love affair with Paris, sparking an interest in a trip to France, restructuring your priorities for the trip you've already planned, or gearing up on the flight over for the gastronomic debauches to come, Liebling is unsurpassed. --Stephanie Gold [via]