Sunday, October 27, 2019

Book review of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table by Carole Bumpus

French Village Diaries book review Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table by Carole Bumpus
Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table
by Carole Bumpus

My review today is for Searching for Family and Traditions at the French table by Carole Bumpus.


This culinary food and travel memoir reveals French families at their best and at their own dinner tables. It is an intimate peek inside their homes and lives; it is a collection of traditional French recipes (cuisine pauvre or peasant foods); and it is a compendium of culinary cultural traditions, sprinkled with historical anecdotes and spiced with humor and seasoned with powerful, candid memories. 

My review:

This book is a gem. American food writer Carole, her husband Winston and her French friend Josiene (who lives in the US) make a pilgrimage to France visiting the homes and tables of Josiene’s family and friends to discover the importance of food and family meals. It was to have been a journey that included Josiene’s mother, however, she sadly died before they set off, but this just added an extra emotional layer to their food pilgrimage.

From the beginning the food was not what I was expecting for a journey in France, but it certainly opened my eyes to the rich culture of immigration and food sharing to be found in the eastern departments. The iron mining towns of eastern France were a hot spot for immigrant workers after the war. In the terraced streets where mothers stayed at home, children played outside and fathers headed to the mines each day, Polish, French, Italian and others lived side by side. Food and money were scarce, but recipes and meals were exchanged and many of these dishes became family favourites for generations to come.

It was fascinating learning about traditions from a different area of France to where I live and gaining a better understanding about the history of the two world wars in the Alsace and Lorraine areas. These areas have been both French and German over the years and many of the personal accounts Carole discovered of the evacuations following the invasions were heart-breaking to read.

Throughout this book, food is described with love and passion, and a real bonus are the recipes Carole shares for us all to enjoy. First on my list to try will be the Mandelbaebbe Taertel (cream and almond tart) as it contains all the flavours I love.

We seem to be living in a political climate where immigration is portrayed as the enemy, so it was refreshing to read this book that certainly highlighted the positive impact immigration can have on culture and our tables. If food, France, history and culture interest you, then don’t miss this book that perfectly combines all of these and more.

About the author:

A retired family therapist, CAROLE BUMPUS began writing about food and travel when she stumbled upon the amazing stories of women and war in France. She has travelled extensively throughout France and Italy, where she has interviewed more than seventy-five families to date for her food and travel blogs. Her historical novel, A Cup of Redemption, was published October 2014, and her unique companion cookbook, Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption, was released August 2015, both by She Writes Press. Visit her at  

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