We Could Almost Eat Outside: An Appreciation of Life’s Small Pleasures by Philippe Delerm

Title: La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules.
Writer(s): Philippe Delerm.
Language: French.
Publisher: Gallimard.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: February 4th, 1997.
Pages: 92.
Genre(s): Short Stories, Non-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9782070744831.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


It’s when we least expect it that an odour comes flirting with our senses, triggering a memory that we never thought we still possessed, that the sight of an object for a micro-second teleports us back to a time and place where innocence and youth were the very fabric of our being, or that the touch of a unique detail reminds us of a feeling we would’ve otherwise thought lost forever. Written in 1997, French author Philippe Delerm releases a little assortment of texts, trying to put into his own words his appreciation of life’s small pleasures.

What is We Could Almost Eat Outside: An Appreciation of Life’s Small Pleasures about? It is a collection of 34 short essays pertaining to life’s small pleasures, often forgotten about growing up but always efficient in sending all of us down memory lane, in a burst of nostalgic joy. These stories, no longer than a couple of pages, are titled after life’s small pleasures or the guilt-free acts that always bring a sense of comfort to a person. From “A Small Pocket Knife” to “Petanque for Neophytes“, amidst these stories, there’s bound to be one that readers will connect with in one way or another.

“L’odeur des pommes est douloureuse. C’est celle d’une vie plus forte, d’une lenteur qu’on ne mérite plus.”

Philippe Delerm

With a very poetic and descriptive style, author Philippe Delerm does a marvelous job of succinctly bringing to life a memory with all the emotional charge that is often attached to it. Despite everything being an individual experience and memory for each and everyone one of us, his writing manages to capture a facet of universality to these feelings and thoughts, to the wonder that comes with them, whether it’s the aroma of apples or the guilty pleasure of ordering a banana split. Somehow, his writing is thus infused with a healthy dose of nostalgia, with each story referring to something from back in the day, oftentimes found in our childhood.

While many of these stories are relatable and easy for the reader to associate with their own experiences in life, some are more obscure, unable to spark any reaction from the reader, sometimes simply due to the author’s country of origin, France, in this case, or the period in time he’s lived through. After all, if you’ve never heard of something, there’s little chance that reading about will stimulate anything within you. The exercise in itself of writing these super short essays remains intriguing but other than making you want to rekindle a love for those lost things or indulge in something you had either taken for granted or simply forgotten, some of these stories will simply be quickly put at the back of one’s mind, leaving no larger impression or just wanting more from the author’s writing.

We Could Almost Eat Outside: An Appreciation of Life’s Small Pleasures is a poetic collection of essays serving as a reminder of the fleeting joy procured by the small things in life.

The title more accurately translates from French to English: “The first sip of beer and other little pleasures“.


26 thoughts on “We Could Almost Eat Outside: An Appreciation of Life’s Small Pleasures by Philippe Delerm

      1. When I was growing up and going to church summer camp, there was one year where they had a 200ft long banana split. They used pvc tubing and saw horses and us kids totally pigged out. It was fantastic!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That sounds insanely awesome!!! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever a real one myself. It’s the kind of thing that I hear about all my about, especially throughout my childhood, that I’m convinced that I had one but actually never went ahead to order it… Then again, when there are a gazillion other options too, it’s hard to choose. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’ve never had one? I think I only had them at camp or at Friendly’s (a restaurant chain that specialized in icecream desserts) but man, they were good!

        We are definitely spoiled for choices, aren’t we? Food to eat, books to read, movies/shows to watch, games to play, there is no shortage of options…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Memories are such wondrous things, how we can seemingly completely forgot about something just to have it resurface after some sight, scent, taste, or what have you. Glad you found some of those moments in these essays.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How do you go from “the first sip of beer” to “we could almost eat outside” is my question 😛 Translation is a hard job 😉
    Hats off to you for reading this in French, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering this was published before the year 2000, I doubt it was a series of blog posts hahah But I do easily see you write-up pieces the same way he did about life’s small pleasures though. 😀 And no, I’ve never tried that. It would be interesting but I don’t know if I’d enjoy it as much as the freedom that this blog offers me when it comes to reviewing hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Lashaan! The choice of “translation” for the English title is very interesting eheh! This collection of short stories also seems to be exactly the type of books that I like, with little snippets of lives and memories! I can understand how some of them can feel a bit “abstract” for the readers though… thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to search for English editions of this book, and there were maybe 2, and went with this one, assuming that it was what was the most accessible for most of us but it indeed is quite interesting. I’m sure you would’ve enjoyed this too, on top of the fact that this was a gift by your mother to us hahah Thanks for reading, Juliette! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I guess it is hard to fault any work that promotes life’s little pleasures, but as you noted Lashaan, those pleasures have to be relatable to the reader in order to be fully appreciated. I like the title translation, and I suggest if you have never had a banana split you put that on the bucket list.🍌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, Bruce! It’s probably quite difficult, maybe almost impossible, for every single little story to speak to you on a nostalgic level but they’re all written wonderfully and will probably work great with the right reader. Duly noted for the banana split. It’ll probably be on my to-do list for this summer! Thank you for reading, sir. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy a good essay book every now and then, Lashaan. Did you read it in French or English? It sounds like a book that would evoke a lot of memories, but also make us more aware of the good things in life. Nice review.

    Liked by 1 person

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