The Gourmands’ Way

Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

Justin Spring

Barnes and Noble

A biography of six writers on food and wine whose lives and careers intersected in mid-twentieth-century France

During les trente glorieuses—a thirty-year boom period in France between the end of World War II and the 1974 oil crisis—Paris was not only the world’s most delicious, stylish, and exciting tourist destination; it was also the world capital of gastronomic genius and innovation. The Gourmands’ Way explores the lives and writings of six Americans who chronicled the food and wine of “the glorious thirty,” paying particular attention to their individual struggles as writers, to their life circumstances, and, ultimately, to their particular genius at sharing awareness of French food with mainstream American readers. In doing so, this group biography also tells the story of an era when America adored all things French. The group is comprised of the war correspondent A. J. Liebling; Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein’s life partner, who reinvented herself at seventy as a cookbook author; M.F.K. Fisher, a sensualist and fabulist storyteller; Julia Child, a television celebrity and cookbook author; Alexis Lichine, an ambitious wine merchant; and Richard Olney, a reclusive artist who reluctantly evolved into a brilliant writer on French food and wine.

Together, these writer-adventurers initiated an American cultural dialogue on food that has continued to this day. Justin Spring’s The Gourmands’ Way is the first book ever to look at them as a group and to specifically chronicle their Paris experiences.

Justin Spring is a writer specializing in twentieth-century American art and culture, and the author of many monographs, catalogs, museum publications, and books, including Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade; Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art; and Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude.