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    The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France

    By: John Baxter

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    Just as species of plants and animals are expiring at an alarming rate, so are the traditional ingredients and techniques of classic cooking and eating. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in France, where the heart of the world's most revered and complex national cuisine is in danger of disappearing, as old ways of agriculture, butchering, and cooking are withering -- leaving us with only a small fraction of the astonishing delights and surprises French cuisine has to offer.

    In this charming culinary travel memoir, the bestselling author of The Most Beautiful Walk in the World goes on the hunt for the most delicious and bizarre endangered foods of France, including:

    ORTOLANS. Tiny birds, drowned in armagnac, sauteed in butter and eaten whole, bones and all, ideally with a large napkin draped over your head to conserve the aroma.

    BOUILLIBAISE. Seafood stew that only tastes right if you eat it by the Mediterranean. The secret is an ugly fish called the rascasse that lurks around sea wrecks

    100 YEAR-OLD COGNAC. The old stuff never gets to the shops, but Baxter's wife is friendly with one of the big distillers, so we get a taste tour of what only millionaires can afford to drink.

    OX. The book culminates in Baxter's participation in a traditional "ox roast," in which an enormous whole ox is cooked on a spit over coals. The recipe begins on a practical note: "First, catch your ox ..."

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