Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure

Joseph Wechsberg takes you on a culinary tour of Europe in the early 20th century, dropping mouth-watering descriptions of the sumptuous feasts he attended (although I was less fond of the endless pages describing the meat dishes). Also enjoyable are the depictions of his own growing up, moving out from under the wealthy family thumb in Austria and trying to make it on his own as a violinist in Paris. His first trip to Paris is in 1926, intending to study at the Sorbonne but getting immersed in street life instead. By mispronouncing Montparnasse, his cab driver dropped him in the middle of Monmartre instead, and he gets a room in a fleabag brothel for a month. After a terrible first night trying to sleep, he discovers harmony with the place by staying up as late as the girls and sleeping till afternoon, completely abandoning his plan to study. In this atmosphere he finds a delightful hole in the wall prix-fixe restaurant where he takes all his meals. An entertaining romp through the restaurants of post-war Europe, peppered with tales from the waiters who bemoan the years gone by.