Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In a French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis

Susan Herrmann Loomis’ ode to cooking in France, In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France, made me smile, taught me several tricks, and had me feeling as if I were sitting at her table or accompanying her on treks to markets in Normandy. In a French Kitchen features 85 great recipes, yet the quintessential ingredients of this tome are the simple ideas it imparts. Designed to answer the question: “How does the French cook do it?” which Loomis notes means “How does the French cook put a multicourse meal on the table at least once every day, and usually more often than that, and still manage to look great, act normal, and do everything else that needs to be done, from working, to raising kids, to taking care of the dog?”

With chapters on leftovers, equipment, and techniques, this isn’t for elitists; it’s for everyone who loves food and wants to eat well. The chapter titled “The delights of French Bread” alone would have been enough to make me buy this book. Join Ms. Loomis as she describes her daily trek to purchase bread:

“I walk to the boulangerie at least once a day, and the pleasure of emerging with a baguette in my hand, rounding the corner and tearing off the quignon, end, to chew on, is indescribable.  But I’ll try to describe it anyway.  It is complete good fortune, laced with indulgence, crowned by the feeling of being absolutely spoiled. After all, a team of bakers has been up since three a.m. baking for me. They’ve prepared the dough in their big, flour-dusted mixers, weighed and shaped it by hand, tucked it into thick, rising cloths, slit it with a razor blade and then slid it into the blustering oven when it’s just the right level of airiness. All of that so that I can enjoy the paradisiacal pleasure of crust and crumb between my teeth. If I ever for one second think I’m in the wrong place, the heel of a baguette brings me back to my senses.”

Yes, fellow readers, Loomis makes every taste explode in your mind just as it does in her mouth.  She delivers us to the places where she loves to shop, shares her secrets for making soups, salads, pastries, and more, and she writes a love note to the people in her adopted land. As an expat American, she also shares a wonderful list of sources to help Americans find the best ingredients, spices, and even wines. 

My husband and I spent several days in Normandy a few years ago and now I’m trying to figure out how I might convince him that we need to return if only to visit Louviers, the town where Loomis and her patisseries and boulangeries reside. I also plan to read On Rue Tatin, Loomis’s previous memoir, and to visit her website often to find new recipes like this one with a video on making the perfect salad

Summing it Up: If you love to cook, read this book. If you don’t care one iota about cooking, read this book for the sheer joy of Loomis’s life in her small French village. If you long to visit France, read this book for it will make you feel as if you’ve been there. Just read this book and give it to someone you love who loves life, recipes, and travel. 

Note: if you’ll be near Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, or the Pacific Northwest in July and August, you may be able to catch Loomis at her book tour events some of which include cooking demonstrations.

Rating: 5 stars    

Category: Dessert, Five Stars, Nonfiction, Super Nutrition

Publication date: June 16, 2015

Author Website:

What Others are Saying:

Kirkus Reviews:

Publishers Weekly:


  1. I'm reading this now and now I can't wait to get to the chapter on bread. her lettuce descriptions had me completely craving salad!

  2. I devoured every delicious word of this book.