Denver Bar Association
December 2001
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‘Cave Life in France’ a Delectable Treat

by Charles A. (Rick) Riccio


Book revels in French food and wine more than cave dwelling.

By Charles Riccio, Jr.

So you have dined countless times with someone you wanted to impress but when the sommelier asked you for your wine order, you grinned with some embarrassment and said, "What would you recommend?" And when you were at the best restaurant in town, do you remember how you stared uncomprehendingly at all those foreign terms on the menu and said, "I’ll have number six." Well, take heart.

"Cave Life in France" certainly is the worst possible title for this thoroughly delightful book. This reviewer thought it would tell about life 20,000 years ago in the caves at Grenoble. The book would be better titled. "Through France with Knife, Fork and Wineglass."

Author and attorney William Glover and spouse Aprille decided a few years ago to chuck the rat race and head for Lavardin, a quaint Breton village to enjoy the pleasures of food, wine and the peace of village or, rather, cave life.

Our author was never without his pencil and notebook. He has recorded not only the complete menu of every meal he ate in France but also the recipe for most of the items on the menu.

It seems that in France when two or more people meet for any reason whatsoever, whether it be social or business or even quite by accident, they must memorialize the event by drinking a glass of wine. One glass leads to another, until everyone is awash in bonhomie.

There is a different wine for every day of the week, for every season of the year, mood, weather condition and holiday. Glover made every effort to learn the names of them all and to pass the information on to us.

Ulti-mately, he does talk about cave life, and though I am not entirely convinced, it does have some advantages.

It is always cool in the cave, and even though it might be damp from time to time, a fire in the fireplace banishes the chill. A refrigerator is not absolutely necessary. And plumbing facilities inside the cave are adequate. A big selling point of the cave way of life is that you have your wine cellar within arm’s reach.

Notwithstanding these (doubtful) advantages, the cave must be wired for telephone and electricity. Cave life isn’t for everyone.

I never did learn what one actually buys when one buys a cave. A cave is, after all, a hole in a hillside. Apparently you have the rights to enlarge the cave by digging an extra room or two whenever you are so inclined. I wish the author had provided a copy of the deed.

The French farmers among whom the Glovers live are charming and friendly. We see a happy population content with simple pleasures of life. (Who wouldn’t be content when everyone is apparently under the influence most of the time?) To those of us who tend to think that the French are unfriendly, distant, and even arrogant, I would say it has been my experience that we often judge the people of a foreign country by their waiters and taxi drivers. There are no taxis in Lavardin, and the only people who wait on tables are the owners of the wonderful restaurants and bistros that Glover describes.

Glover tells his story with a dry and subtle wit. By the time you have turned the last page, you are thinking of any excuse to travel to France, drop in on him and his charming wife, and enjoy a comfortable dram with people you feel are dear friends.

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