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Edouard Manet’s “Oysters” from 1862 is one of the many
illustrations Maryann Tebben uses to explain the ways that French
cuisine is inextricably bound with that nation’s culture. 
Photo courtesy the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.​

Food for Thought in a New History of French Cuisine

Culinary History

Not everyone sees it as cuisine; some people just consider it food. But whether you’re devoted to the simple cooking of your childhood or the elevated gastronomy of kings and socialites, you understand that what we cook and what we eat shapes more than just our bodies; it also shapes our culture and our view of the world.

In a Zoom virtual talk on Monday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m., Bard College at Simon’s Rock professor Maryann Tebben will talk about her new book, “Savoir-Faire: A History of Food in France,” which is a deep dive into the ways our meals intersect with art, literature and history. 

Tebben teaches French and is the head of the Center for Food Studies at Simon’s Rock, which is in Great Barrington, Mass.

She explains in the introduction to her book that, “The story of French food is formed from a thousand smaller stories woven together; telling the tale is part of the consumption of French food. 

“This book asserts that the way French cuisine has become perhaps the most recognizable cuisine on the planet is because we know those stories by heart: Charles de Gaulle and 258 (or maybe 325 or maybe 246) cheeses, Dom Pérignon and sparkling wine, Marie Antoinette and cake, Parmentier and potatoes, Marie Harel and camembert, Proust and his madeleine.”

Tebben will share these and other stories of the history of French cuisine in her free talk, which can be accessed on Zoom (Meeting ID: 976 3089 8977, Passcode: h4BPqB) on Monday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m. 

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