Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

The Sweet Life in Paris
Author: David Lebovitz
Publisher: Broadway
Published: April 25, 2009
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: purchased at library sale

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood. 

But he soon discovered it's a different world en France.

From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men's footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David's story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.

When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men's dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that in Paris appearances and image mean everything. 

The more than fifty original recipes, for dishes both savory and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have readers running to the kitchen once they stop laughing. 

My Thoughts: I have always wanted to go to Paris (hopefully, I will have had my first visit within the next year). I have always felt a connection to Paris, that it was calling to me. I don't know why, but I have always known that I just have to go there. David Lebovitz's book allowed me to journey to Paris without spending a dime on airfare, hotel, chocolate, or the incredible pastries that the French are known for. Lebovitz moved to France to pursue his culinary interests. After working in posh restaurants in San Francisco for 20 years and 2 cookbooks, Lebovitz was ready for a change. And for a chef, what better place to lose yourself than Paris? Unfortunately, he knew no French, had no family or friends there, and was trying to battle with the difficulties of moving to a foreign country and dealing with all the government paperwork. Lebovitz highlights his move to Paris and the difficulties that ensued. And, to make the book even better, at the end of each chapter, he includes a few recipes that will leave your mouth watering.

Lebovitz humorously tells you about his life in Paris, from battling his way down a sidewalk to facing his childhood fear of squid to dealing with employees in French stores. He tells each story in a chapter, focusing on a particular item or issue that he faces in Paris. He tells each chapter with humor and balancing the viewpoints of Americans and Parisians. I felt like I was walking the streets with Lebovitz, experiencing his life in Paris, from his favorite chocolate shops to cafes to small stores that he likes to shop in. After finishing his book, I cannot wait to travel to Paris and experience all that this wonderful city has to offer ... including all those delicious pastries!

I read this book as part of Paris in July, a month-long feature being hosted by Karen at BookBath.

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