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The travel shelves at any major bookshop are jammed full of the Rough Guide to this and the Lonely Planet guide to that. They're informative but very dry. Others like the Charley Boorman Long Way Down books tend to be heavily focussed upon the mode of transport rather than the countries visited. Bon Appetit is rather different. A travel guide with a twist. It focuses on the cuisine of a nation, not in the condescending way of a well travelled chef who seeks to improve on a series of traditional national dishes by anglicising them but in the manner of a man born to not just to eat but to thoroughly enjoy each and every mouthful.
Subtitled "Travels through France with knife, fork and corkscrew" this doesn't even hint at the many eccentricities within the books pages or the authors ability to go above and beyond the call of duty whilst describing the food presented in such a mouth-watering way that you'll be feeling remarkably hungry at the end of each chapter. Best avoid this book if you're on a diet.
Woven into the many many different foods sampled along his gastronomic tour of France are many tales of the tiny village festivals dedicated to the foods of a particular region. The UK has many equivalents but you never hear about The Denby Dale Pie festival attracting visitors from around the world, I doubt many outside Yorkshire have even heard of it. Nor would the UK consider encouraging marathon runners to consume alcohol, lots and lots of alcohol, before, during or after a race. If they did I dare say there would be a lot more running enthusiasts.
The most tempting chapter of the entire book is that devoted to the French health spa les Pre d'Eugine. The only spa in France with a Michelin starred chef and a five course meal with wine each evening. It sounds nothing like the lettuce leaf toting torture centres I would associate with the same experience within the UK.
It's a book unlike any I have ever read and the likes of which I'm unlikely to encounter again. It left me reaching for a diary and an atlas and wondering if I could get time off in mid-September to partake in Le Marathon du Medoc. It would make a fabulous training run for next Aprils Flora marathon and I wouldn't feel too bad being forced to retire half way through in a picturesque vineyard in the depths of Burgundy having succumbed to one two many free samples of the local vitals en route rather than a bad case of joggers nibbles and a poor training regime.