A Taste For Provence

Hardcover | June 10, 2016

byHelen Lefkowitz Horowitz

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Provence today is a state of mind as much as a region of France, promising clear skies and bright sun, gentle breezes scented with lavender and wild herbs, scenery alternately bold and intricate, and delicious foods served alongside heady wines. Yet in the mid-twentieth century, a travel guide called the region a “mostly dry, scrubby, rocky, arid land.” How, then, did Provence become a land of desire—an alluring landscape for the American holiday?

In A Taste for Provence, historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz digs into this question and spins a wonderfully appealing tale of how Provence became Provence. The region had previously been regarded as a backwater and known only for its Roman ruins, but in the postwar era authors, chefs, food writers, visual artists, purveyors of goods, and travel magazines crafted a new, alluring image for Provence. Soon, the travel industry learned that there were many ways to roam—and some even involved sitting still. The promise of longer stays where one cooked fresh food from storied outdoor markets became desirable as American travelers sought new tastes and unadulterated ingredients.

Even as she revels in its atmospheric, cultural, and culinary attractions, Horowitz demystifies Provence and the perpetuation of its image today. Guiding readers through books, magazines, and cookbooks, she takes us on a tour of Provence pitched as a new Eden, and she dives into the records of a wide range of visual media—paintings, photographs, television, and film—demonstrating what fueled American enthusiasm for the region. Beginning in the 1970s, Provence—for a summer, a month, or even just a week or two—became a dream for many Americans. Even today as a road well traveled, Provence continues to enchant travelers, armchair and actual alike.

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From the Publisher

Provence today is a state of mind as much as a region of France, promising clear skies and bright sun, gentle breezes scented with lavender and wild herbs, scenery alternately bold and intricate, and delicious foods served alongside heady wines. Yet in the mid-twentieth century, a travel guide called the region a “mostly dry, scrubby, ...

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz is the Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor of American Studies and History emerita at Smith College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:June 10, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022632284X

ISBN - 13:9780226322841

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1          Introduction
I        Thomas Jefferson and the Love of Antiquity
2          Roman Ruins and Rough Land
II       Laurence Wylie and the Authentic Provence
3          France, Yes! But Provence?
4          Preparing the Way to Provence for Postwar Travelers
III      Irving Penn and the Reinvention of Provence
5          The Senses
6          Eternal Provence? Maybe Not
7          Getting Ready to Taste
8          But Not Ready for Prime Time
IV      Julia Child and the Pleasures of Provence
9          The Sell
10        The Tomato
11        The Romance of Berkeley and Bandol
12        The Lure of Cookbooks
13        Buying It Here, Bringing It Home
V       Patricia Wells and the Joys of Staying in Place
14        Résidences Secondaires
15        Renting
16        Along Came Mayle
17        The Beaten Path
18        Au Revoir and Bonjour
Acknowledgments
Notes

Editorial Reviews

 
“Horowitz’s detailed description of American cooks’ incredible alarm at using fresh garlic will remind some Anglo readers of things grandmothers used to say. Her enthusiastic personal accounts of shopping and dining prompted me to savor a fabulous ratatouille before starting this review. As a playful work in American Studies, the book thus has much to recommend it.”