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

Written by on August 6, 2019 in Book Reviews And Interviews

Book jacket image of Searching for family and traditions at the French Table by Carole BumpusPart culinary memoir and part travelogue, Carole Bumpus gathered this compilation of intimate interviews, conversations, stories, and traditional family recipes in the kitchens of French families as she travelled throughout France. Reading Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table you’ll join her as she explores Champagne caves/wineries and historic cathedrals, local farmers’ markets, ancient potters’ guilds, and restaurant kitchens with wood-fire ovens. Learn how to make homemade Spinach-stuffed Tortellini with Bolognaise Sauce from the Champagne region, Crêpes and Watercress-stuffed Ravioli from the Lorraine, and Baekeofe and Kugelhopf from the Alsace. “Go blind” from the family stock of Eau de Vie liqueur and be treated to tales of foraging for snails for the infamous and now extinct Escargots Festival. And, on a sombre note, listen to accounts of families forced from their communities during WWII in the Alsace and Lorraine, only to continue to struggle for survival after finally making their way home.

Review Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table

Carole Bumpus, a retired family therapist and author of this absorbing book shares an abundance of experiences she and her husband Winston enjoyed whilst travelling from Paris in the Île-de-France, through the Champagne, Alsatian and Lorraine regions. Her journey through these eastern regions of France enjoying the food, and meeting the locals were enhanced immeasurably by the presence of her French/Californian friend and translator, Josiane Selvage.

From the first page, this book is packed to bursting point with information, details of the villages they visited, the history of the regions, and the lives of the families they were welcomed into. Reading it makes it clear the impact WWI and WWII had on family life. However throughout the centuries, ‘family favourites’ have, for the most part been conceived through necessity of one kind or another, either because of food shortages (whether it be conflict or caused through natural events) or quite simply the necessity to create good, tasty, family food using available vegetables, fruit and livestock. As the years have passed these dishes may have been embellished by food companies and sold for the masses in frozen, bottled or canned form. But, it is in the family kitchen that the best versions are made, flavoured with love, heritage and memories. For those readers who are keen cooks, traditional recipes from each of the regions can be found at the end.

In France, food and family time are considered sacred and those values are wonderfully apparent in this book.

Book 2 of the series will see the author take another step in her journey: through Pas-de-Calais, Normandy, Brittany, the Loire and Auvergne.

Highly recommended: This book is compelling reading, its pages overflow with memorable moments, family secrets, and delicious recipes.  It will hold a prized place on the bookshelf of readers who love France, its food, people and history. Mouth-wateringly delicious, evocative and utterly charming.

Available from Amazon

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