As many of you know, moving to a foreign country on a long-term basis is a huge step in one’s life that usually involves an extended period of transition. One of the things that helped me to deal with the emotional impact of moving to Spain and away from my family, friends and everything I knew was to read about the real-life experiences of others. I found a lot of inspiration in hearing about the different men and women who have overcome the various obstacles associated with expat life and went on to thrive and find happiness. One of the best books of its kind that I have found is called Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard.
Lunch in Paris is the true tale of an American woman from New Jersey who left it all behind to move to Paris and be with the love of her life (something I could certainly relate to on a number of levels!). Bard is refreshingly honest about not only her initial excitement (Paris! Baguettes! Museums! Romance!), but also the associated difficulties (loneliness, finding work, communication issues, guilt, etc.). I truly felt like I could relate to almost everything she said. The parts about meeting the foreign in-laws were particularly relatable as the nerves coupled with the communication and cultural barriers make it a very daunting task.
Enriching the novel was her French cultural immersion through her exploration and growing love for the local cuisine. She adds flavor to her various stories by describing in detail the food she consumes along the way, and puts the corresponding recipes in the back of each chapter. After reading at length about how scrumptious her mother-in-law’s poached cod was the first time they dined together, it was a nice treat to have the recipe laid out just a few pages later. I have been having a similar love affair with Spanish food since I arrived so it was not hard to imagine the same thing in another country.
I think this book would appeal to those not in the same situation as well. The author has a voice that many people can identify with and the real life love story she tells is also quite charming. The recipes are appealing (I tried a handful) and her observations of Paris through the eyes of a young American are witty and smart to boot. For those who are interested, I am sure a copy will turn up eventually at my beloved J&J Books & Coffee!