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My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

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In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award–winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson’s, tells how he became one of Paris’s most influential food critics Until Alec Lobrano landed a job in the glamorous Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his main experience of French cuisine was the occasional supermarket éclair. An interview with the owner of a In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award–winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson’s, tells how he became one of Paris’s most influential food critics Until Alec Lobrano landed a job in the glamorous Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his main experience of French cuisine was the occasional supermarket éclair. An interview with the owner of a renowned cheese shop for his first article nearly proves a disaster because he speaks no French. As he goes on to cover celebrities and couturiers and improves his mastery of the language, he gradually learns what it means to be truly French. He attends a cocktail party with Yves St. Laurent and has dinner with Giorgio Armani. Over a superb lunch, it’s his landlady who ultimately provides him with a lasting touchstone for how to judge food: “you must understand the intentions of the cook.” At the city’s brasseries and bistros, he discovers real French cooking. Through a series of vivid encounters with culinary figures from Paul Bocuse to Julia Child to Ruth Reichl, Lobrano hones his palate and finds his voice. Soon the timid boy from Connecticut is at the epicenter of the Parisian dining revolution and the restaurant critic of one of the largest newspapers in France. A mouthwatering testament to the healing power of food, My Place at the Table is a moving coming-of-age story of how a gay man emerges from a wounding childhood, discovers himself, and finds love. Published here for the first time is Lobrano’s “little black book,” an insider’s guide to his thirty all-time-favorite Paris restaurants.


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In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award–winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson’s, tells how he became one of Paris’s most influential food critics Until Alec Lobrano landed a job in the glamorous Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his main experience of French cuisine was the occasional supermarket éclair. An interview with the owner of a In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award–winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson’s, tells how he became one of Paris’s most influential food critics Until Alec Lobrano landed a job in the glamorous Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his main experience of French cuisine was the occasional supermarket éclair. An interview with the owner of a renowned cheese shop for his first article nearly proves a disaster because he speaks no French. As he goes on to cover celebrities and couturiers and improves his mastery of the language, he gradually learns what it means to be truly French. He attends a cocktail party with Yves St. Laurent and has dinner with Giorgio Armani. Over a superb lunch, it’s his landlady who ultimately provides him with a lasting touchstone for how to judge food: “you must understand the intentions of the cook.” At the city’s brasseries and bistros, he discovers real French cooking. Through a series of vivid encounters with culinary figures from Paul Bocuse to Julia Child to Ruth Reichl, Lobrano hones his palate and finds his voice. Soon the timid boy from Connecticut is at the epicenter of the Parisian dining revolution and the restaurant critic of one of the largest newspapers in France. A mouthwatering testament to the healing power of food, My Place at the Table is a moving coming-of-age story of how a gay man emerges from a wounding childhood, discovers himself, and finds love. Published here for the first time is Lobrano’s “little black book,” an insider’s guide to his thirty all-time-favorite Paris restaurants.

30 review for My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ann Mah

    On the surface it's charming and effervescent, but this memoir of Paris food critic (and friend) Alexander Lobrano is weighted with memories and emotions that cracked my heart open. If you love France and food, you will love this book. On the surface it's charming and effervescent, but this memoir of Paris food critic (and friend) Alexander Lobrano is weighted with memories and emotions that cracked my heart open. If you love France and food, you will love this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rennie

    It feels like it’s been so long since I read a good foodoir, and especially one about France. They can be so pretentious for some reason. This was such a delight! He is an absolutely lovely writer - warm and touching with an incredible eye (and memory) for detail (you can tell he’s been a journaler). Although weirdly for as much as I loved it I didn’t get on with the actual food writing so well. It’s the style that turned me off food writing initially until I discovered other variations, i.e. me It feels like it’s been so long since I read a good foodoir, and especially one about France. They can be so pretentious for some reason. This was such a delight! He is an absolutely lovely writer - warm and touching with an incredible eye (and memory) for detail (you can tell he’s been a journaler). Although weirdly for as much as I loved it I didn’t get on with the actual food writing so well. It’s the style that turned me off food writing initially until I discovered other variations, i.e. melodramatically descriptive, lots of nonsensical-sounding things like onions creating “drama” and flavors being sensual and things that just generally don’t say anything meaningful about food, in my humble far-from-culinary-expert opinion. But the way he weaves food into his stories more than makes up for it. It just has so much heart, and it’s wonderful to see his trajectory from Connecticut boy who knows he’s somehow different to Parisian food critic. It has some very tough and emotional moments too, but he writes it so well and makes every story so meaningful. Just the best kind of memoir writing, really. Plus it’s delightfully star-studded: Ruth Reichl, Julia Child (one of my favorite scenes in the book + fabulous Julia quote), even the sweetest James Beard cameo. Love this!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kasia

    **Copy of this book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** An OK read that was a bit too highbrow for me to be truly enjoyable. Author's love for food is apparent but something about the way he is communicating his pleasure failed to resonate with me. In the end, the book that concentrates on french cuisine did not made me hungry even once. There are couple of snobbish sentiments (sometimes you go to restaurant to watch the famous clientele rather than enjoy your food; you can't **Copy of this book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** An OK read that was a bit too highbrow for me to be truly enjoyable. Author's love for food is apparent but something about the way he is communicating his pleasure failed to resonate with me. In the end, the book that concentrates on french cuisine did not made me hungry even once. There are couple of snobbish sentiments (sometimes you go to restaurant to watch the famous clientele rather than enjoy your food; you can't have a good boeuf bourguignon outside France etc) that embittered me a bit more and in the end I finished glad that it was this short. I'm glad author's love for France resulted in successful and joyful life but unfortunately he didn't infect me with his passion. I assume that it's a book more suitable for people that already have a deep connection with french cuisine, not a regular foodies like me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Alexander Lobrano shares the story of his life, going from a boy in Connecticut to a renowned food critic in Paris. He was first hired to work in Paris as a young man, without much knowledge of French, without much knowledge of the city, without much knowledge of men's fashions, as a men's fashions writer there; I am still amazed at how he was hired for that. He began to find ways to write about food, his true passion, and eventually became a correspondent for Gourmet and one of Paris' leading n Alexander Lobrano shares the story of his life, going from a boy in Connecticut to a renowned food critic in Paris. He was first hired to work in Paris as a young man, without much knowledge of French, without much knowledge of the city, without much knowledge of men's fashions, as a men's fashions writer there; I am still amazed at how he was hired for that. He began to find ways to write about food, his true passion, and eventually became a correspondent for Gourmet and one of Paris' leading newspapers. Reading his food writing kept me as entranced as if I were reading a good novel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The only problem I had with this book is that it ended. I liked the story, loved the author and would love to sit and have a meal and a chat with him. It was at turns funny, sad, inspiring. His descriptions of the meals and streets of Paris make me want to hop on the TGV right now and go out for an amazing meal. Extra bonus was the list of restaurants at the end of the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Halli

    Not too often a lovely book comes along that immediately captures: a book about Gallic food and Paris? Sign. Me. Up. Paris and I have a very love/hate relationship. I love it from afar but am less enthused about it when I'm there. I am thankful for authors like Alec who bring a different Paris alive for me; one I am able to easily fall in love with and can dream about often. Previously I've "poo-pooed" the name dropping other writer's find endearing but coming from Alec it really is endearing. H Not too often a lovely book comes along that immediately captures: a book about Gallic food and Paris? Sign. Me. Up. Paris and I have a very love/hate relationship. I love it from afar but am less enthused about it when I'm there. I am thankful for authors like Alec who bring a different Paris alive for me; one I am able to easily fall in love with and can dream about often. Previously I've "poo-pooed" the name dropping other writer's find endearing but coming from Alec it really is endearing. He brings back to life individuals who have changed the American food scene forever...Julia Child, James Beard...with stories that epitomized the public's view of them as if to say "here is a story which I think you'll enjoy about a person I spent some time with once." His descriptions of how his tastebuds and his life have unfolded are well orchestrated. I commend him for recognizing that certain events in his life happened but he refuses to hold on to anything resembling victimhood. Really an enjoyable book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    W.

    Like it , just don't love it. Enjoyed all the food descriptions , the behind the scenes and his experience living in Paris . I think foodies would love this book . I just reviewed My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano. #MyPlaceattheTable #NetGalley Like it , just don't love it. Enjoyed all the food descriptions , the behind the scenes and his experience living in Paris . I think foodies would love this book . I just reviewed My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano. #MyPlaceattheTable #NetGalley

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Some of us realize at a young age that we are different from other kids. If we were lucky, our families embraced this difference instead of punishing us for not being the same. The author of this book knew he was different but wasn't given any support, only ridicule and derision, but he managed to "escape" and follow his dream of living in Paris. Oh, what discoveries he made. We are the lucky ones to get to read about the delicious meals he tasted and the people he met while building a career as Some of us realize at a young age that we are different from other kids. If we were lucky, our families embraced this difference instead of punishing us for not being the same. The author of this book knew he was different but wasn't given any support, only ridicule and derision, but he managed to "escape" and follow his dream of living in Paris. Oh, what discoveries he made. We are the lucky ones to get to read about the delicious meals he tasted and the people he met while building a career as a food writer. If you are a fan of this genre, pick up this book. If you have funds for traveling, there's a solid list of recommendations at the end of it on where to spend your money. I think this book might be a sleeper hit--at least it should be to those that love good food and well done food reviews.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    A thoroughly enjoyable book. I found myself transported to Paris (and other parts of France), sitting next to the author as we enjoyed meal after meal of great French cooking. His descriptions are detailed, effusive, and luscious. Of the food, the service, and of the surroundings. A world that I will never have the chance to experience first-hand, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to live vicariously through him! In addition, I really enjoyed the way that Lobrano laid bare his soul. Fr A thoroughly enjoyable book. I found myself transported to Paris (and other parts of France), sitting next to the author as we enjoyed meal after meal of great French cooking. His descriptions are detailed, effusive, and luscious. Of the food, the service, and of the surroundings. A world that I will never have the chance to experience first-hand, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to live vicariously through him! In addition, I really enjoyed the way that Lobrano laid bare his soul. From his childhood through the current day. It took an unbelievable amount of courage to share all that he did. I don't want to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say that it's amazing, given the childhood experiences he had, that he became such a well adjusted person. And the people he met! From a poor dairy farmer to Princess Caroline, to immigrant cooks to fashion and food moguls. And he dishes a little on all of them! How fun! If I had a chance to converse with the author, I would tell him that some of us find our way in life through family, some through our work, and he through food. What a great path to take! Bravo! Highly recommend!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris by Alexander Lobrano is a memoir about how he went from a being a gay kid from the Connecticut suburbs to becoming one of the most influential food critics in Paris. Lobrano discovered that he loved French food when he first tasted frisee aux lardons and boeuf bourguignon while on a fa Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris by Alexander Lobrano is a memoir about how he went from a being a gay kid from the Connecticut suburbs to becoming one of the most influential food critics in Paris. Lobrano discovered that he loved French food when he first tasted frisee aux lardons and boeuf bourguignon while on a family trip to Paris when he was fifteen. Eventually he took a job with Women's Wear Daily because it allowed him to move to Paris. The story of how he got from being a fashion writer to becoming the restaurant critic at one of the largest newspapers in France is a story well worth reading and the list at the back of the book of his 30 favorite Paris restaurants is a welcome bonus. I highly recommend the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle W. - Sweaters & Stilettos

    Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this memoir. I specifically requested this book because of COVID; that is, I hoped it would be a lovely escape that would, if not mimic, at least give me a bit of the pleasure of travel back. It did and I would recommend it for that reason alone in these continually gloomy times. COVID aside, this was a lovely little look into the life of someone who has successfully forged their own path. The novel is an easy read. Each chapter is a bite-sized look Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this memoir. I specifically requested this book because of COVID; that is, I hoped it would be a lovely escape that would, if not mimic, at least give me a bit of the pleasure of travel back. It did and I would recommend it for that reason alone in these continually gloomy times. COVID aside, this was a lovely little look into the life of someone who has successfully forged their own path. The novel is an easy read. Each chapter is a bite-sized look at a particular memory. The writing is fluid and descriptive while resting at the border of flowery. I enjoyed the easy pace, but it didn't provoke or demand. The impression is that the author wrote this as much for himself as for the reader. A position that commands respect from this particular reader for not coming across as arrogant or self-congratulatory. The addition of years would have helped greatly, though. It was difficult trying to figure out when things were occurring; I assumed the chapters followed a forward progression. The last few chapters deviate from this and include vague references to the year. A strange, but welcome departure. Unlike most people, I am not in love with Paris. Paris is a place I neither like nor dislike; I've only been once many years ago. It's always been like the Popular Kids to me. Full of fashionable, but aloof people, who if they don't consciously consider themselves above you, their sub-conscious projects this through their mannerisms etc. The author does not agree. He falls in love with Paris early on in his life and moves there at the first opportunity. Seeing it through his eyes is a new look at a place. I don't think I'd go straight to "welcoming", but Mr. Lobrano gives the impression of an easy transition where he can finally become himself. This is always a good story for me. I love a happy ending and I may be a bit more enamored of Paris (and France as a whole) than I was before. The narrative is also peppered with interesting people, who he describes so well I almost feel like I've met them. (It does not hurt that I can also google many of these famous names.) Yet, it's not the celebrities that I most enjoyed, but the chefs. He describes the chefs and their restaurants in detail. And then, of course, he describes the food. Don't read while you're hungry. Some of the meals sound so good my mouth was watering. The recipes are delightful and described in full-length glory. It’s easy to imagine yourself sitting in these cafes with a glass of wine enjoying the simple company of a good meal. It’s escapism; pure and simple. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, if only I could visit Paris sometime soon; it’s definitely worth a new trip based on this memoir alone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kiersten

    My Place at the Table is the first memoir by self-described suburban Connecticut kid Alec Lobrano, who through his own grit and determination, transformed himself into one of France's most respected food critics. Lobrano, who curiously seemed to care not a bit about fashion, used a fashion editor position to make his way to Paris, and pave his own way into the food world, by pushing the boundaries of his assignments; meanwhile, educating himself on French food, one meal at a time through a numbe My Place at the Table is the first memoir by self-described suburban Connecticut kid Alec Lobrano, who through his own grit and determination, transformed himself into one of France's most respected food critics. Lobrano, who curiously seemed to care not a bit about fashion, used a fashion editor position to make his way to Paris, and pave his own way into the food world, by pushing the boundaries of his assignments; meanwhile, educating himself on French food, one meal at a time through a number of unexpected sources, his first landlady, neighbors, salty upstart and established chefs... The book is a love letter not only to his adopted home of Paris (though perhaps not so much its high society crowd), but to the chefs and restaurant staff who tend to the serious business of food within in. While Lobrano treats us to many of the innovative and groundbreaking meals in bistros and fine dining establishments, many take root in generations-old family recipes, the simple country food of Normandy, Alsace, Archeche, the Basque region... We also get a glimpse of his heartbreaking childhood, the son of an heir to the Drake Baking Company and an accountant, who desperately want to mold him into a more "normal" boy, all the while hiding a disturbing family secret. One strategy is to send him on a summer-long cross-country boys camping trip, where he ironically develops not only a taste for solitude, but for local cuisine beyond the white bread world of Connecticut. This dysfunctional childhood full of odd characters gives us insight into his handling of encounters with such legendary figures as Yves St. Laurent, Helene de Rothschild, Giorgio Armani, though the most charming of all, a disastrous lunch brokered by his mother with Ruth Reichl. That his mother "acted like a puppy digging up a just-planted garden" bonds the two of them, leading to his most plum and coveted of assignments, for the now-dearly departed Gourmet magazine. An unexpected bonus is the inclusion of Lobrano's Little Black Book, of his favorite Paris restaurants, ranging from "shockingly expensive' to the very humble. A quick Internet survey shows most of these are still at least operating on a takeaway basis, so will hopefully be there when we all eventually get there! 4.5 stars, rounded down. Entirely possible that over time and further reflection, it evolves into a 5... Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Alec Lobrano is an American who grew up in the northeast. He knew at a young age that food was very important to him and enjoyed learning about it. Not too long after college, Alec moved to Paris which had drawn him for years. His first in Paris was at Women’s Wear Daily in the menswear section even though he had no knowledge of the subject, nor did he care about it. He wanted to write about food. Slowly, he began getting assignments to visit cheesemakers, chefs, markets, and finally reviewing re Alec Lobrano is an American who grew up in the northeast. He knew at a young age that food was very important to him and enjoyed learning about it. Not too long after college, Alec moved to Paris which had drawn him for years. His first in Paris was at Women’s Wear Daily in the menswear section even though he had no knowledge of the subject, nor did he care about it. He wanted to write about food. Slowly, he began getting assignments to visit cheesemakers, chefs, markets, and finally reviewing restaurants. Through the many people and chefs in the food industry, he learned about the origin of French food and how it all came together to make glorious dishes. Alec meets extraordinary chefs who are willing to share their knowledge of the food and the areas of France that have the best. While some restaurant owners tried to intimidate Alec if his reviews weren’t to their satisfaction, he refused to give in and change his review to satisfy their egos. I was drawn to and mesmerized by this book because I lived in Paris for six wonderful years and my passion was French food. It’s an experience where one never stops learning. You can find delicious dishes in the most out of the way places, in addition to insipid and overpriced dishes at big name restaurants. Learning to navigate the markets is a challenge and a joy. The food you find is the freshest anywhere. It is brought to market in the very early hours of the morning and set out for customers to select the very best. French cooking is not only an art but it is done with love. His story of the nasty Portuguese concierge brings back memories. Ours was just mean too. I also enjoyed his chats with Ruth Reichel whom I followed online because her newsletters were so interesting. At the end of the book, readers will find a listing of restaurants in Paris that range from inexpensive to expensive. The author gives a brief synopsis of his favorite dishes at each, the address, and average price range. A totally delightful book. Don’t miss it. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    celtic bookgirl

    A fascinating read for anyone who loves food! While I had never heard of the author, I am always up for a good culinary read, especially one that involves travel or other countries. This book did not disappoint. Warm and engaging, the writer never comes off as pretentious as some food critics unfortunately do. He weaves an engaging tale that details how he faked his way into his career, using his love of food to ultimately position himself as a respected food journalist. His descriptions of not j A fascinating read for anyone who loves food! While I had never heard of the author, I am always up for a good culinary read, especially one that involves travel or other countries. This book did not disappoint. Warm and engaging, the writer never comes off as pretentious as some food critics unfortunately do. He weaves an engaging tale that details how he faked his way into his career, using his love of food to ultimately position himself as a respected food journalist. His descriptions of not just the food he discovers, but also the people that he meets along his journey, draws readers in as if they were there beside him. And speaking of food, be warned- this book will leave the reader hungry and seeking a meal such as the ones that Alexander enjoys himself. So many dishes are detailed in mouth watering terms that I wanted to run out and find something- anything- that could possibly measure up to those tantalizing delights. The writer is kind enough to end the book with a listing of his own favorite places (including price ranges) in France. Unfortunately, since the only traveling that this reader is currently doing is of the armchair variety, my hopes of being able to share in such a meal are slim to none, but a girl can dream, can't she? I requested and received this e-book as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read and give an honest review this title.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Sowell

    Received a free copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Here is my honest review. Trigger warning and a bit of a spoiler: molestation of minor/sexual assault I really enjoyed this book. As a foodie, this was an exciting read for me. I also enjoyed learning about the author's life and his journey to becoming a restaurant reviewer. It is very apparent he has a love affair with food. I appreciated the way he talked about the food even if I didn't understand the French vocabulary. As others have mentio Received a free copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Here is my honest review. Trigger warning and a bit of a spoiler: molestation of minor/sexual assault I really enjoyed this book. As a foodie, this was an exciting read for me. I also enjoyed learning about the author's life and his journey to becoming a restaurant reviewer. It is very apparent he has a love affair with food. I appreciated the way he talked about the food even if I didn't understand the French vocabulary. As others have mentioned, there is a bit of name dropping in the book, but I think the author balances it with knowledge of the person/people. I loved that he didn't realize until part of the way through the conversation he was speaking to Julia Child.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan McBeth

    Alec Lobrano's reflections on his life in his new memoir, My Place at the Table, are as delectable, sumptuous, and satisfying as the exquisite food he has written about as one of the world's premiere food critics. His word pairings are as much a feast for the senses as the food he writes about. Just one of many examples: "The oysters arrived, and the architecture of the meal I'd constructed quieted my mind. The iodine-rich rush of the fleshy oysters braced me for the future, while the wine blunt Alec Lobrano's reflections on his life in his new memoir, My Place at the Table, are as delectable, sumptuous, and satisfying as the exquisite food he has written about as one of the world's premiere food critics. His word pairings are as much a feast for the senses as the food he writes about. Just one of many examples: "The oysters arrived, and the architecture of the meal I'd constructed quieted my mind. The iodine-rich rush of the fleshy oysters braced me for the future, while the wine blunted my fear of it, and the melted butter the sole had bathed in was soft balm for my sadness." I feasted on this gorgeous book for only 2 days, because I couldn't help but gorge myself.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Don Smith

    An engaging account of how Alexander Lobrano became an important food critic in Paris. More than that, however, it is the story of the emergence of a young boy who becomes a man in one of the greatest cities in the world. He overcomes many handicaps including language (he speaks terrible French), knowledge (he know very little about his subjects at first), and loneliness (he makes some terrible choices for partners). The book is detailed particularly when he writes about food which made me envio An engaging account of how Alexander Lobrano became an important food critic in Paris. More than that, however, it is the story of the emergence of a young boy who becomes a man in one of the greatest cities in the world. He overcomes many handicaps including language (he speaks terrible French), knowledge (he know very little about his subjects at first), and loneliness (he makes some terrible choices for partners). The book is detailed particularly when he writes about food which made me envious that he would get paid to eat! It was a quick read, but delightful at times and poignant at others. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    I started to read this book because I was going to an author event at Artisan Cheese Company, but before I knew it I was lost in the narrative. While this is the author's first book his expertise as a wordsmith, the restaurant critic is a recipient of a James Beard Award, is evident in this memoir. I was expecting the book to be about how he became a restaurant critic, and it is that, but it is so much more. It is about the people and experiences that shaped him as a man and as the book progress I started to read this book because I was going to an author event at Artisan Cheese Company, but before I knew it I was lost in the narrative. While this is the author's first book his expertise as a wordsmith, the restaurant critic is a recipient of a James Beard Award, is evident in this memoir. I was expecting the book to be about how he became a restaurant critic, and it is that, but it is so much more. It is about the people and experiences that shaped him as a man and as the book progresses you realize that the titular table is also a metaphor for coming into himself and finding where he belongs.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trudy Zufelt

    Alex Lobrano chronicles his life from a boy in Connecticut to a food critic in Paris. For those who love reading about food and Paris, the author paints a descriptive picture of the food experience in France. I especially enjoyed the great local finds. Though well written and descriptive, this just didn't resonate with me. I thought it would make me want to visit France or at least get me excited to try some French recipes but it did neither. I was more interested in the story behind how Alex end Alex Lobrano chronicles his life from a boy in Connecticut to a food critic in Paris. For those who love reading about food and Paris, the author paints a descriptive picture of the food experience in France. I especially enjoyed the great local finds. Though well written and descriptive, this just didn't resonate with me. I thought it would make me want to visit France or at least get me excited to try some French recipes but it did neither. I was more interested in the story behind how Alex ended up a food critic in the first place. Overall, for those who like to read about food and haute cuisine, this may be fore you.

  20. 4 out of 5

    KelleReads

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved every moment spent in Alec’s good company. Of course there are memories of meals and some famous names from the food world, but there is so much more in these pages. It is the story of finding ones’s place in the world, both figuratively and geographically. There were so many moments I laughed out loud and a few that broke my heart. Reading this book is like spending time with a dear friend who happens to be an excellent raconteur with a wise heart, an infectious sense of humor and a grea I loved every moment spent in Alec’s good company. Of course there are memories of meals and some famous names from the food world, but there is so much more in these pages. It is the story of finding ones’s place in the world, both figuratively and geographically. There were so many moments I laughed out loud and a few that broke my heart. Reading this book is like spending time with a dear friend who happens to be an excellent raconteur with a wise heart, an infectious sense of humor and a great passion for life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susanne

    Thank you to the author, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I very much enjoyed this memoir of an awkward young boy from US suburbia who ends up as an influential food critic in Paris. It's not linear as such, there is some jumping back and forth, but following along with the author as he forges his own path, develops his taste buds and becomes adventurous in spite of himself is a great read. Thank you to the author, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I very much enjoyed this memoir of an awkward young boy from US suburbia who ends up as an influential food critic in Paris. It's not linear as such, there is some jumping back and forth, but following along with the author as he forges his own path, develops his taste buds and becomes adventurous in spite of himself is a great read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    A delightful book! This memoir by food writer Alexander Lobrano chronicles his time in Paris, eating, learning about food, and working his way up the career ladder of gastronomic journalism. The author is a fine storyteller, and the book is an easy, interesting, and charming read. Lobrano also tells of his numerous boyfriends, but these stories most definitely take a back seat to the food. Highly recommended for those who enjoy good travel stories and for foodies.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I've given this memoir 4 stars, mainly because of my love for food and for Paris. Alexander Lobrano certainly loves his adjectives and uses them far too liberally, to the distraction of what he's trying to say. I was hoping for some further insight into his life before he moved to Paris; what was it like to come out to his parents and what was their reaction. I found the first half of this book far more interesting and would have liked more detail. I've given this memoir 4 stars, mainly because of my love for food and for Paris. Alexander Lobrano certainly loves his adjectives and uses them far too liberally, to the distraction of what he's trying to say. I was hoping for some further insight into his life before he moved to Paris; what was it like to come out to his parents and what was their reaction. I found the first half of this book far more interesting and would have liked more detail.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kshotwell

    This book is the new gastronome travel guide for Paris. You can follow Alexander Lombrano’s culinary curiosity across the country page by page. Or create an aspirational recipe book from his recounts of sublime and satisfying meals. Personally I have noted Berthe’s Norman apple soup abd roast chicken on page 96. The poulet basquaise from page 145 and from page 215, Basque parmesan soup. I was genuinely upset when his stories ended.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    *I received a copy of this as part of the GoodReads FirstReads Giveaway* Lobrano's memoir details his life through the lens of food. A food critic in Paris, a part of me thinks there is no way he wouldn't be a bit arrogant and pretentious, but I'm a sucker of all things French so really, I'm probably just jealous I can't live his life. Lobrano is a good storyteller, vulnerable about his childhood, and writes about food deliciously. My only complaint is that he didn't include recipes. *I received a copy of this as part of the GoodReads FirstReads Giveaway* Lobrano's memoir details his life through the lens of food. A food critic in Paris, a part of me thinks there is no way he wouldn't be a bit arrogant and pretentious, but I'm a sucker of all things French so really, I'm probably just jealous I can't live his life. Lobrano is a good storyteller, vulnerable about his childhood, and writes about food deliciously. My only complaint is that he didn't include recipes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Drew Stiling

    as another reviewer put it: "a bit too highbrow for me to be truly enjoyable". it felt a bit too chronological and merely a list of things that had happened, and not enough of a coherent theme about his life. I think that he could have done more to probe into his own psyche, and explain why he is the way that he is. as another reviewer put it: "a bit too highbrow for me to be truly enjoyable". it felt a bit too chronological and merely a list of things that had happened, and not enough of a coherent theme about his life. I think that he could have done more to probe into his own psyche, and explain why he is the way that he is.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen Tripson

    Young man goes to Paris to become a writer is a well known plot line and American dream. This memoir is extraordinary because of Lobrano’s writing and story telling. It’s nuanced. It’s deft. It’s painterly. I’m in a awe of how he puts words on the page. I’m a food freak and I admire his ability to describe the experience.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I was moved by Lobrano's description of his boyhood, and his struggle to find his place in the Parisian restaurant world. The second half of his story was less interesting to me, with copious descriptions of the many, many meals he has eaten in Paris, often as a food writer and critic. I was moved by Lobrano's description of his boyhood, and his struggle to find his place in the Parisian restaurant world. The second half of his story was less interesting to me, with copious descriptions of the many, many meals he has eaten in Paris, often as a food writer and critic.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    If you love eating in Paris and thinking about food and what it means for your happiness, then this book is for you! It's the first time in memory I have started a book and finished it in one go. Marvelous. If you love eating in Paris and thinking about food and what it means for your happiness, then this book is for you! It's the first time in memory I have started a book and finished it in one go. Marvelous.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diane Bateman

    This book kept me reading I finished it in 2 days . I love French cuisine that this book was interesting and I recommend that my friends and family read this book .

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