La Bonne Table by Ludwig Bemelmans

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Here is the best of Bemelmans on the subject he loved most: la bonne table. The entrancing memories and charming pictures assembled here transport the reader behind the scenes of the great hotels of Europe and America--including the immortal "Hotel Splendide"--and such restaurants as the Tour d'Argent in Paris and Le Pavillon in New York. Memorable dishes, the eccentric geniuses of the kitchens who created them, the opulent and often astonishing patrons who ordered them, the legendary wines and the occasions they toasted, are all evoked in rich and piquant flavor. 

The gifted and exuberant Ludwig Bemelmans was trained as a boy for a career as a restauranteur, and La Bonne Table is in effect his gastonomical autobiography. The high--and sometimes riotous low--points of his life with food, from Austrian cafes to the late, lamented Ritz of New York, are narrated with delight and zest as he celebrates beer and sausages, pressed duck and caviar, and the chefs who cooked for him. He remembers with decidedly mixed emotions the ways of the busboy and the waiter, and the qualities that make up the perfect maitre d'. He muses over great menus and great eaters--and soon makes the reader very hungry. Here, truly, is a feast of reading, as a lost world of luxury and elegance is brilliantly evoked and savored. Bemelmans' extraordinary charm captivated all who met him; it glows through the pages of La Bonne Table.


About Ludwig Bemelmans

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Ludwig Bemelmans, April 27, 1898 - October 1, 1962 Ludwig Bemelmans was born on April 27, 1898 in Meran, then Austria. At the age of eight, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to Regensburg, Germany. He was enrolled into various public and private schools and failed out of most of them. At the age of twelve, unsure of what else to do with him, Bemelmans was apprenticed to an uncle in the hotel business and proceeded to go through many jobs, being repeatedly dismissed. After supposedly shooting and almost killing a waiter, his family gave him the ultimatum of reform school or emigration to the United States. He arrived in America in 1914 with reference letters from his uncle to various hotel managers in New York. Bemelmans obtained a job as a waiter in the Ritz-Carlton, but left that job to join the Army in 1917. In the Army, he worked with German speaking recruits and as a military hospital guard. In 1918, Bemelmans became a naturalized citizen, returning to hotel and restaurant work a year later, eventually opening his own restaurant. In the 1934, at the suggestion of one of his friends, Bemelmans began to write, producing his first children's book, "Hansi." He was best known though, for his series of books about the little french girl, "Madeline," which is still a childhood favorite. "Madeline's Rescue," the second book in the series, won the Caldecott Medal in 1953. His first book for adults was entitled, "My War with the United States" and was a diary of his experiences in the service during World War I. In fact, Bemelmans usually wrote his books based on his life experiences, such as "Life Class" and "Hotel Splendide," about his life as a restaurateur, his travels to Ecuador and Italy appeared in "The Donkey Inside" and "Italian Holiday," and his brief stint as a screenwriter in Hollywood was the basis for "Dirty Eddie." Bemelmans wrote about a book or two a year and was a contributor to Town and Country and Horizon, as well as a cover illustrator for The New Yorker. In his later years, Bemelmans enjoyed some small fame from painting, with some of his work appearing in various galleries. Ludwig Bemelmans died of pancreatic cancer in New York on October 1, 1962.
Published May 5, 2015 by Nonpareil Books. 446 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Cooking, History. Non-fiction

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Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1964 ISBN: 0879238089 Page count: ...

Oct 25 2011 | Read Full Review of La Bonne Table

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