The best books with a taste of France

Jackie Kai Ellis Author Of The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris
By Jackie Kai Ellis

Who am I?

Jackie Kai Ellis is a designer, bestselling author, pastry chef, entrepreneur, lifestyle writer, and other bits n’ bobs. Jackie left design to pursue her passion for pastry in Paris. After finishing her studies, she founded the award-winning pâtisserie, Beaucoup Bakery & Café in Vancouver – featured in countless publications and media including Bon Appétit Magazine. Jackie turned her passion for authentic storytelling and launched her bestselling memoir, The Measure of My Powers: A memoir of food, misery, and Paris,.

I wrote...

The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris

By Jackie Kai Ellis,

Book cover of The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris

What is my book about?

On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that she and every woman wanted. She was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, and she had a beautiful home. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded every moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between strangers--unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In the darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort, and acceptance.

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The books I picked & why

The Art of Eating

By M.F.K. Fisher,

Book cover of The Art of Eating

Why did I love this book?

Dotted with stories of her life in France, M.F.K. Fisher’s intertwined food and life in such a natural way that it would make you wonder if they were not just one after all. As I read through this anthology of her works, I was drawn into her stories of Sunday picnics by swimming holes, of pre-war Paris, warming segments of clementine on radiators while watching soldiers soldier. I was taken by the way she placed modest words beside one another to create images, tastes, and smells so whole that I could have sworn the memories were my own.

When I began writing a book of my own stories, I naturally thought of M.F.K. Fisher. With her as my muse, I recalled memories of being fed as a child, my belly warm and full of savoury porridges dotted with rustic dumplings that my grandmother would spin out of leftovers, stories of bustling markets in full bloom, of losing loved ones, stories of losing, and finding myself, in Paris and the kitchen.

By M.F.K. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Eating as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruth Reichl - 'Mary Frances [Fisher] has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary seem rich and wonderful. Her dignity comes from her absolute insistence on appreciating life as it comes to her'. Julia Child - 'How wonderful to have here in my hands the essence of M.F.K. Fisher, whose wit and fulsome opinions on food and those who produce it, comment upon it, and consume it are as apt today as they were several decades ago, when she composed them. Why did she choose food and hunger she was asked, and she replied, 'When I write about hunger, I…

Book cover of The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement

Why did I love this book?

Written by my talented friend, a Paris-based journalist for publications such as The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Afar Magazine, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine. Lindsey Tramuta has taken her journalistic curiosity and written a cultural study-meets-guide book for those who are wanting to explore Paris from a new perspective, from one of a true, modern Parisienne.

By Lindsey Tramuta,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The New Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The city long-adored for its medieval beauty, old-timey brasseries, and corner cafes has even more to offer today. In the last few years, a flood of new ideas and creative locals has infused a once-static, traditional city with a new open-minded sensibility and energy. Journalist Lindsey Tramuta offers detailed insight into the rapidly evolving worlds of food, wine, pastry, coffee, beer, fashion, and design in the delightful city of Paris. Tramuta puts the spotlight on the new trends and people that are making France's capital a more whimsical, creative, vibrant, and curious place to explore than its classical reputation might…

Book cover of Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way: A Recipe Book

Why did I love this book?

Another beautiful book with beautiful photography by a dear friend in Paris, Rebekah Peppler. This James Beard nominated recipe book takes you through how to create a classic apéro through the seasons, and then inventive riffs. I’ve personally tried so many of these recipes and they have you dreaming and yearning for that moment with friends, setting suns, chilled glasses and the sound of crystal in celebration of another day.

By Rebekah Peppler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Apéritif as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Grab a light drink and a bite, and enjoy cocktail hour, the French way.

For the French, the fleeting interlude between a long workday and the evening meal to come is not meant to be hectic or crazed. Instead, that time is a much needed chance to pause, take a breath, and reset with light drinks and snacks. Whether it's a quick affair before dashing out the door to your favorite Parisian bistro or a lead-up to a more lavish party, Apéritif is…

Book cover of Art of Viennoiserie and Festival of Tarts

Why did I love this book?

This is a lesser-known book written for pastry professionals by the school I attended in Paris. To date, it is the best resource for technique and recipes for viennoiserie and traditional pastries that I have seen. Though beware, it is very much for the professional and hasn’t been well translated, but for those pastry fanatics needing a good challenge, this is it.

Book cover of French Pastry 101: Learn the Art of Classic Baking with 60 Beginner-Friendly Recipes

Why did I love this book?

My apprentice, Betty Hung, who eventually inherited the bakery I founded, has written an award-winning recipe book on French pastries. It’s wonderfully photographed, well-tested and informative. I am always proud to see her create with such precision and success.

By Betty Hung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked French Pastry 101 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

French pastry is often thought of as difficult to master, but Betty Hung-founder of the blog Yummy Workshop and co-owner of Beaucoup Bakery-makes the classic art of French baking more approachable than ever. Most of her recipes only take an hour, which makes it much less daunting for beginners.

Learn basics like pastry cream and pate sucree, and create favourites like Lemon Madeleines, Creme Brulee, Eclairs and Lady Fingers. Readers will be able to take shortcuts like using ready-made puff pastry, or, for the more adventurous baker, Betty demonstrates how to make it from scratch.

Whether you are new to…

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