Food with Fun and Gossip

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Food with Fun and Gossip


Byline: Martin Rubin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

G.Y. Dryansky, who writes this scrumptious book with his wife, Joanne, is a longtime resident of Paris and, as senior European correspondent for Conde Nast Traveler, has had the opportunity to taste French cuisine as few have been able.

The generous expense account that comes with such a dream job is certainly a help, but all the money in the world and the entree that comes with such a position cannot bestow real taste and the discerning palate necessary to achieve a profound understanding of the length and depth and breadth of the culture of French food.

By the time you have read these pages, as full of gusto as of informed judgment, you will likely agree with the verdict of that longtime observer and writer on matters French, Alan Furst:

There's nobody I know, in Paris or New York, who understands French food the way Gerry Dryansky does. And surely nobody who writes about it as well as he does.

Mr. Dryansky manages to combine the knowledge of a consummate insider with the vantage point of someone looking in on an extraordinary spectacle. This is so necessary, since who wants to be lectured from a great height - de haut en bas as the French say? The book manages to envelop you with its mantle, sweeping you along on the shoulder of a true aficionado as he takes you on a tour d'horizon of the glories he is sharing.

And he has a track record of infecting others with his enthusiasm. Describing the venerable Parisian brasserie La Coupole, where he often saw Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and his mistress/adopted daughter sit down to a three o'clock lunch, he tells us.

Joanne and I ... would over the years go there for Sunday lunch with our son and daughter. At age three, Andre, who would grow up to be an estimable trencherman, would polish off a half dozen oysters at lunch at the Coupole.

Heredity or environment - who knows? But that kid was just bound to grow up with a discriminating and hearty appetite.

Not surprisingly, given his ringside seat in public places and private residences, not to mention unrivaled access to gossip, Mr. Dryansky has a marvelous fund of stories to recount.

A bemused Brasserie Lipp trying to find out what John Kenneth Galbraith looks like, only to see the lanky man descending the staircase, coming back, just then, from his lunch in Siberia, where, unrecognized . …

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