An Interview with Alexander Lobrano on his new Paris Memoir, “My Place at The Table.”
By Everett Potter
It’s the rare American food writer who can not only hold his own among the food-obsessed French but become one of the leading restaurant critics in Paris. That is the story at the heart of My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris, a new memoir by the writer and restaurant critic Alexander Lobrano.
It’s about a passion for food that started at an early age, and Lobrano’s gradual education in French food and restaurants. Whether he’s observing the bubbles in a glass of champagne for the first time or discovering the joys of an apricot soufflé eaten when he was freshly arrived, the constant is curiosity. In part a gay coming-of-age-story, it delves into friendship and sex, snobbery and manners. In gaining that education, it’s about making mistakes and opening one’s eyes.
At the memoir’s heart is Paris, where Lobrano has lived for more than 30 years, and where his apprenticeship in food and travel allowed him to discover himself. A longtime writer for the late, lamented Gourmet, his memoir of three decades in Paris is dotted with brief recollections of such memorable culinary icons as Ruth Reichl and Julia Child. But it’s mostly about the many others he encountered who are not famous but truly memorable, with detailed descriptions of lovingly recalled meals and hard-won insights into French culture … continue reading