Chez Jim is Jim Chevallier's Web site. If it is difficult to define, well so, say some, is Jim.|
The two largest groups of visitors to this site have typically come for the free original monologues and the film finance information. More recently, many have been drawn by information about the origin of the baguette, (one of the first of an increasing number of items here about bread and baking). Some are also drawn by bits of information on figures such as Tim Leary, the Beatniks and Louise Nevelson. But since its earliest incarnation in 1996, the site has also included genealogy information, looks at Paris and samples of fiction and poetry.
In subsequent years, it has grown to reflect new interests, including self-publication of several books, further travel (cross-country, up to Northern California and to Saigon, among other places) and the 18th century in France (including information on the Bastille and a number of 18th century recipes).
NOTE: Many of the page formats reflect the changes in the site over the years, and its generally eclectic nature. To thine own selves be true...
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Where did the CROISSANT come from?
Read about kipfeln, viennoiserie and even the baguette in:
For more about the book and August Zang, click HERE.
- September 2017
"The Great Medieval Water Myth" cited Do YOU think medieval drinkers drank beer and wine to avoid bad water? Back in 2013, I demonstrated that this was the Great Medieval Water Myth. A few months later the post went viral and has remained popular since. Now it's been cited (for the first time?) in print (in Pete Brown's Miracle Brew): "But in 2013 food history blogger Jim Chevallier challenged this, presenting numerous references to water being drunk as a matter of course from Greek and Roman times, through the ages of the Franks and Gauls to classical France and Italy."
- August 2017
Two book projects and Le Figaro The manuscript for one book is about to go into production; another (Modernist Bread) is now slated to appear in November. Meanwhile, an article in the Figaro has just cited August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie Came to France in an article. This modest little self-published book has become the standard reference for croissant history.
- March 2017
Ah Paris....Where I always see old friends (two of whom took me to their country house by Aix), but also went this time to do research for my book. Ate in all kinds of restaurants, photographed all kinds of food. Now that I've researched the city, many streets have multiple layers for me, stretching back to Roman times.
- October 2016
Just back from Cuba! Where a bread historian naturally enough would go to study bread, bakers and bakeries in Havana. For some glimpses of the trip, see this video and the photo montages here.
See it now, before the first Starbucks.
- September 2016
Modernist Bread is now available for pre-order: "Although Modernist Bread will now be arriving on shelves in May 2017—later than we originally anticipated—it will be gorgeously illustrated, including modern scientific research and rigorously tested techniques and recipes. We have collaborated and consulted with 75 industry leaders around the world, including historians Jim Chevallier and....".
- March 2016
New book contract! Coming.... well, not soon, a book on the history of the food of Paris. Stay tuned...
- December 2015
Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover's Companion to New York City, just published, includes two contributions by Jim Chevallier.
- August 2015
Cited in the French newspaper Libération:"It is starting in 1920, according to the writer Jim Chevallier, that our first baguettes appear, the very image of the purity of flour.” La victoire croûte que croûte.
- April 2015
In the Smithsonian Magazine's inaugural edition of their Journeys Travel Quarterly:“The croissant began as the Austrian kipfel but became French the moment people began to make it with puffed pastry, which is a French innovation,” says Chevallier. “It has fully taken root in its adopted land.” To read more, visit:
Is the Croissant Really French?: A brief history of the croissant – from kipfel to Cronut.
- July 2014
Hold Chez Jim in your hand! For several years now, most books from Chez Jim Books have only been available as ebooks. But here's a surprise: people are buying print books again! And so for the first time a number of Chez Jim books are available in print: original works like Paris Poems, Bullies: Monologues on Bullying for Teens and Adults, and About the Baguette: Exploring the Origin of a French National Icon and translations such as A Tour of Two Cities: Eighteenth century London and Paris compared and How to Cook an Early French Peacock: De Observatione Ciborum, as well as a number of extracts from Le Grand d'Aussy's work - The Well-Set Table in France: Furniture and Settings for Meals from the Gauls to the Eighteenth Century, Eggs, Cheese and Butter in Old Regime France, Catholic Fasting in France: From the Franks to the Eighteenth Century and
Feasts and All Their Finery: Elegant Dining in Old Regime France.
- December 2013
Want to party like it was 1455? Or 1378, or 1565, or 1668? The kings of France and a duke or two put on some memorable feasts in these years and Le Grand d'Aussy goes into great detail about these and other glories of French dining in the centuries before his time (the eighteenth century). These are some of the liveliest chapters in his three volumes of food history and now they are available in English:
- November 2013
Sort of a food history blog When you're writing two books - one on early medieval food, the other on the history of French bread -, you get a lot of leftover tidbits you'd like to share. So why not put them in a blog? Say, a blog called Les Leftovers: sort of a food history blog"
Subjects so far have included aqueducts under the Franks, a soup served to Gregory de Tours, snails found in tombs, shifts in French bread and the evolution of courses in early French table service. So if this is the kind of thing that interests you, come take a look.
- July 2013
Quoted in the New Yorker! In Bill Buford's Notes of a Gastronome "Cooking With Daniel" in the July 29th New Yorker one finds the following quote "The food historian Jim Chevallier points out that the word 'Vegetarian' didn't exist yet." A brief, but flattering, mention.
- April 2013
Coffee came to France in 1638. And then? Essentially, it disappeared. Le Grand's tale of how it reappeared - more than once - before finally taking hold as one of France's favorite drinks is only part of what he discusses in a long section on non-alcoholic drinks in France. Before sodas and milkshakes came lemonade and rissolis, and other drinks long forgotten today. This new translation gives English speakers a chance to read one of the classic accounts of how all these drinks took hold in France.
- December 2012
What was the first true American bread? How did American bread get to be so bad? What does 'biscuit' mean?
The answer to the first question is corn bread (which was once eaten in all the early states); the answer to the second is long, and starts at the end of the nineteenth century and continues through various developments into the Forties; the answer to the third depends on the era and the country. All of these and other questions are addressed in Jim Chevallier's articles on Bread and Biscuits in the second edition of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, now available:
- August 2012
Once pork fat was considered appropriate for Catholic "meatless" days...
This is only one of the peculiar facts uncovered by the eighteenth century writer Le Grand d'Aussy in his exploration of Catholic fasting in France, now available in English:
|Have you ever wanted to gild a peacock?|
They did in fourteenth century France, but a "golden peacock" (or, if you prefer, swan) is only one of a number of dishes described in this little known predecessor to Taillevent's Viandier:
How To Cook a Golden Peacock: Enseingnemenz Qui Enseingnent à Apareillier Toutes Manières de Viandes - A Little-Known Cookbook from Medieval France
- April 2012
What was REAL medieval food like?
Most of what people think they know about medieval food comes from a few centuries at the end of the period, when Taillevent's famous cookbook (The Viandier) appeared. So what happened to all those other centuries? Find out here:
French Food Before Taillevent.
Duels, Assault and Domestic Violence in Pre-Revolutionary France, the third volume of the Old Regime Police Blotter is now available:|
A woman who killed three men in a sword fight; drunken musketeers assaulting passers-by; a wife whose husband brought his mistress home and beat her when she objected.... More colorful characters and dramatic vignettes from Old Regime France.
- January 2012
France was barely born when a Greek doctor wrote a Frankish king a letter, telling him what to eat. A letter in Latin.
Now available in English:
Or visit this page for some samples.
- September 2011
Love wine? Love history?
Love the history of wine?
Here's one of the few comprehensive histories of wine in France, from the Gauls through the eighteenth century, in a new translation:
- May 2011
Now available:Thirty TV Type Scenes for Two People
on Kindle and
Barnes and Noble ebook
See TV Type Scenes for more.
- August 2011
Samples from BULLIES - a new monologues series for teens and adults - are now up.
- October 2010
Like bread? Read French?
Check out the new Dictionnaire Universel du Pain:
With articles on Austrian bread, the baguette, the croissant, pain de fantaisie, porteuses de pain, Viennese baguette and bread, viennoiserie and Christophe-Auguste Zang, signed....
- August 2010
The latest addition to the site: a look at
Here are other recent changes:
And, inaugurating the bread and baking theme: