À la recherche du temps perdu (1913–1927), Marcel Proust's novel of artistic redemption, is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century. The novel is also an emblematic text of French culture, one that resurrects a bygone France—a France accessible through gustatory communion. It produces a national culinary landscape in which the French recognize an idea of country. This chapter examines some of the texts that marked French cuisine as a dominant trope of French national identity, along with some of the consequences of that dominance. It shows how Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu illuminates wonderfully well the dynamics of a nationalizing culinary culture. It considers French “gastro-literature” and the salient connection between matters literary and culinary as a distinctive feature of French culture in general.
Keywords: Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu, France, French cuisine, national identity, culinary culture, gastro-literature, French culture