In Frances Mayes’s Under The Tuscan Sun the author’s purchase of a villa in Tuscany is made memorable by “authentic” cuisine and temperamental, though utterly adorable, faulty plumbing.

Books like Mayes’s (and Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence, et al) drove Bruno Bouchet spare and resulted in French Letters, his latest comic novel about a fraudulent French village. The residents pretend to be part of a forgotten community of Greek migrants, who have nurtured their own blend of cooking s

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