Joie de Vivre

I finally took the plunge the other day and ordered a couple of books from Amazon and I was not only pleased with the service but my selections also. One of the titles I got was Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living by acclaimed restaurateur Robert Arbor. I read it over one weekend and found it as delightful as I had hoped it’d be after reading sample pages using Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature at www.amazon.com.

The book’s title, which is French for “enjoyment of life,” captures the essence of its message: life is meant to be savored one sip at a time, not gulped down indiscriminately. Arbor is a French expatriate who has owned and operated several successful French-style eateries in New York City and still maintains a residence in the French countryside.

What I loved about the book is its elegantly simple approach to living a life full of meaning and merriment with the ones we cherish. Coupled with artful photography from the author’s wife, the book’s chapter titles are arranged in a type of culinary order, from the French love of breakfast to gardening, farmer’s markets and other simple pleasures.

For the cuisine-minded, recipes are sprinkled throughout the text, but in an unobtrusive manner for those of us more inclined toward the message than the menu. As Arbor writes, “A big part of comprehending 'joie de vivre' is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations.”