It feels like ages since my last time having a delightful meal properly in a fine restaurant, especially after all the rough patches in the past few months, however, given my big day was up so I decided to give myself a little treat, buying myself a sumptuous birthday lunch in the beautiful The Blue Box Café by Tiffany & Co., after the lunch, I stopped by at one of my favorite French bookstore in town, and out of the blue, I discovered something which was as mouth-watering as the great meal I just had a moment ago, a beautiful book titled ‘Les grandes tables de Paris’ by French writer and gastronomic critic, Mr. Gilles Pudlowski, with photography by Mr. Maurice Rougemont. Despite the book is published back in around late 2013, but the traditional value, art and heritage of high French gastronomy is timeless, therefore, I would still like to share with you all in here.
Perhaps some of you, my dear readers, can tell that this book is about refined French cuisine based on the title, and yes, it’s true, the author Mr. Pudlowski did take the reader to experience (visually) to some of the most legendary French restaurants situated in the city of light, from some of the renowned names included Alain Ducasse, La Tour d’Argent, Le Taillevent and L’Atelier Saint-Germain Joël Robuchon and so on, giving a brief story about each of them and the point of view of these remarkable master chefs, putting together their signature (or recommended) dishes that each restaurant offered and their secret recipe. When I was flipping each page of the book, it did bring back some of the wonderful memories that I had, especially for those restaurants that I have visited and patronage during my previous trips in Paris, including Restaurant Le Grand Véfour by Guy Martin, and the magical moment at Le Meurice; apart from that, another thing that I am fond of this book so much, is the emphasis of the impeccable and traditional value of the French ‘Art de la table’, something that keeps me craving for the French high culinary culture over and over again, the impeccably groomed French waiter and maître d', getting each table setting precisely and elegantly done with polished cutlery and china, a shiny glass that placed in front of the dining plate with a crispy white and clean cotton napkin, just like their polished attire and grooming along with their sophisticate serving manner, each restaurant crews are dedicated and getting ready to serve, to express the artistry and style of the master chef behind, wearing their crispy white gloves and apron, ready to pour their guest a glass of fine champagne, or, gently serving the artfully set dishes on the table, everything did come with a package; as for a guest, how can one not stepping up to dress impeccably and act sophisticatedly to match with the whole ambient and scenario?
To me, it’s the ultimate indulgence over a fine French cuisine, in the city, and the magical moment to experience how valuable that is the traditional French ‘Art de la table’ is about, and in reciprocate with our gracious and gentlemanly manner towards the work and effort of these remarkable restaurateurs that put behind.
Moreover, I think it’s another way of expressing the kind of manhood that we see less and less these days – the sophistication and dedication to the art continuously, an attention to detail and execute it impeccably with gracious manner and patience, giving time to practice each protocol and master it through each services, echoing the aesthetic and history of the restaurant or master chef themselves, and groom oneself with their impeccable way that is quintessentially French – elegant French – to express the glory of the high French gastronomic culture.
Despite the book only available in French version (I possibly believe), by going through each page, one can always experience the beauty of the French ‘art de la table’, even without going to those restaurants in person yet. To my dear readers, I sincerely wish you enjoy this book, and of course, bon appetit!
Editions de La Martinière 2013