This is the book for anyone who has ever gone to Paris seeking French food and been completely waylaid from their Coq au Vin by the rich variety of ethnic restaurants in the city. With a far-flung variety of former colonies and protectorates, Paris is a melting pot for people and cuisines from all over North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. When we were there last year we spent a lot of time exploring the food available at places like the café at L’Institut du Monde Arabe, grabbing pastries from a spectacular Algerian bakery called La Bague de Kenza (subsequently written up in the New York Times, with recipes, and there’s also some great photos on Lulu Loves London) and trying to find a much-recommended restaurant called l’Afghanistan in the 11th arrondissement.
Part guide for your next trip to Paris and part recipe collection, authors Charlotte Puckette and Olivia Kiang-Snaije mix stories of immigrant experiences in Paris, information about ethnic restaurants and interviews with their proprietors/chefs, with well-chosen recipes and delightful drawings – just take a look at the cheery cover to get an idea. It is illustrated by Paris-based Lebanese artist Dinah Diwan and her vivid images are full of fun and energy.
Separated by nationality – Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia, Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos/China, Japan, Cameroon/Senegal/The West Indies, Lebanon and Syria – each chapter has the makings of an entire meal, from Green Papaya and Moroccan Carrot Salads, Shrimp Rougail and Pork Colombo, to Saharan Almond Cake with Orange Coulis or Coconut and Lime Flan.
It may be a slightly rose-coloured picture of French colonial and immigrant history, but this picture of a vibrant multicultural Paris and its associated food makes for fascinating reading. Information on the more obscure ingredients – my favourite argan oil, for instance – is always useful and the recipes are encouragingly straightforward. I’ve already dog-eared more that a few of the Moroccan and Lebanese recipes to try. A colourful addition to your cookbook shelves.
The Ethnic Paris Cookbook has also got its own blog here, where you can read about the adventures of the authors on the book promotion trail.