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.
David Lebovitz is a sought-after cooking instructor with an award-winning food blog (davidlebovitz.com). Trained as a pastry chef in France and Belgium, David worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California for twelve years. He now lives in Paris, France, where he leads culinary tours of the city.
If you love Paris, you'll enjoy this book. If you hate Paris, you'll enjoy this book. If you've never been to Paris (c'est moi) and you're weary of hearing your Francophile friends gush about how absolutely everything French is better simply because it's French, you'll enjoy this book.
Not my kind of book to begin with, but it was interesting enough for me to finish. Lebovitz has such an interesting way of describing his view of the Parisians. Very funny most of the time.
I didn't read his recipes--they're not why I read the book in the first place--which made the book that much faster to read. He likes things like creme and milk and butter and sugar. I willing to bet his food is delicious and dangerous.
But let's get down to the real point here: he needs to grow some aggression. Although he loves the men in Paris and how they dress, he is mortally afraid of the women, old or young, and of bumping into anyone on the sidewalk, on the bus, or waiting in a queue. He makes it sound like they are all out to get him, to run him over while driving through the roundabout, but it's easy enough to see that he really should be eating more beef and less sugar. Annoyed by a painter who is taking so long to paint his apartment, his passive aggressive ways lead him to asking friends for advice, who tell him to simply put the painter's supplies outside and let him get the hint, which advice he happily and weakly follows.
I think he fears French women the most. He has a French woman who cleans his house. While she cleans, he leaves, but is irritated by how long it takes her because he can't stand to be there at the same time. Makes me want to say "Hey, Lebovitz, man up! If you don't want your employee spending so much time cleaning (or painting) your flat, tell her to scram, fire her, or tell her to work faster because she annoys you! It's your house." It gives me great pleasure just knowing that the fearless and very forward Jordan Ferney is there to restore America's aggressive reputation (200 years of which reputation was almost entirely destroyed by Lebovitz's single book). http://ohhappyday.com
Heaven forbid he would have to have a confrontation! Or stand close to someone at the market.
He also has a habit of closing his chapters, or essays I'll call them, with an attempt to be cute and tie together all of the punchlines used up to that point. I liked it the first time, but then it got too rich.
Maybe that is it--maybe his book was meant to be savored over time, like over-sweetened ganache, while slowly trying each recipe before moving on the to next essay.
In that case, it was probably too much for me, but a very timid and sweet book.
What a thoroughly unpleasant memoir. I don't know what Lebovitz was going for here, but he managed to make Paris sound like a place where you are going to be pushed into the street and everyone is nasty to you no matter what. I read his other memoir and thought it was so good and I loved the recipes. This memoir includes recipes at the end of each chapter and they just don't fit. I don't know what he was going for here with this one, but it just missed it's mark entirely.
Americans, writes the savvy author, don't get out much (Hawaii, the Caribe duz it) and arent good at adapting becos we're rarely in a position that requires this. How come the French in Paris don't speak Americanese? (Can you find an American in the US who speaks French? Gee, it aint fair izzit.) To visit a forn country, you better know the "rules" for the culture. (Americans hate this.) The SF author, a chef, moved to France, started chefing -- and here's a delightful tome on manners avec recipes for those who cook.
Entering a shop, restaurant, patisserie, you must say: Bonjour, monsieur or Bonjour, madame. Yet, author asks, "why are Americans fixated on how impolite the French are?" If you want to be treated w courtesy, you must practice the rules of politesse. Don't ask, first thing to a stranger, "And, what do you dew?" Don't drink coffee with your meal, lumpkin. Don't show visitors your bedroom and wc, lumpkin. Also, it izznt necessary to have a kitchen the size of your apartment. (In US, 'kitchen appliance' centers push this ugliness, and, dumb Americans follow suit, natch. Is anyone surprised?)
Wanna make a fromage blanc souffle, lemon-glazed madeleines, a carmelized apple tart ? It's all here. Delicious, I'm sure. I don't cook. Having lived for months in a hotel, the only words I know are Room Service!
In the book description the question posed was "When did he (the author) realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien?" The answer came to me after reading the first few chapters - when he started to COMPLAIN about everything. Just like Parisian, the author complains non-stop. Complaints about the service, the pedestrians, the coffee, the water, the small apartments... On and on he goes. I was so disappointed in this book. I was expecting to be transported into the "Sweet Life in Paris" but instead was given a detailed list of reasons we should all stay away from Paris. Talk about misleading. I didn't even finish the book. I still love Paris and France though - I always will.
The Sweet Life in Paris is the moving-and-starting-over story of Lebovitz’s venture into Parisian life. It’s a story we have heard many times before, of the trials of dealing with French bureaucracy, of figuring out how to get service in French stores, and of trying to fit into a world that secretly scorns everything that is not French. Yes, we have heard this story many times before, but it is a story we will never tire of, a story we want to read again and again, until maybe, one day, we tell the story of our own move to this magical place.
I loved how Lebovitz tells how he realized he was finally un vrai parisien. It was not a big day, but a simple day, the day he dressed up to take out his garbage. How we all want to live in a world where everyone dresses up to take out the garbage!
The best part, of course, is David’s take on Paris treats. David is, of course, an expert on pastries, so who better to take us around Paris and share pastry gossip?
An absolutely delicious book, filled with stories about those amazing sweets of Paris. With recipes.
Кажуть, задумані в новорічну ніч бажання здійснюються. А якщо про щось мріяти протягом усіх різдвяно-новорічних свят? Я тепер маю шанс це перевірити, бо читаючи книгу Девіда Лебовіца "Солодке життя в Парижі" якраз саме цими днями, просто не могла не мріяти про те, як гуляю чудовими паризькими вуличками, роздивляюся будинки й вітрини, ласую випічкою й шоколадом, смакую свіжі круасани, але... без кави. Бо, на думку автора, каву в Парижі ліпше не пити — вона геть несмачна.
Загалом книга — це і путівник найромантичнішим містом, зокрема його ресторанами, кав’ярнями та магазинами, і збірник рецептів від шефа (автор — відомий кухар), й порадник для непарижан (бо навіть французи з провінції — то геть інші люди))), й гумористичний твір (ага, сміятися доводиться подекуди вголос). Однак паралельно з оцінкою парижан із точки зору іноземця мимохіть формується й портрет середньостатистичного американця, котрий вибрався за межі свого затишного "юесея": то йому надто тісно в цій старій Європі, то надто голосно, то надто повільно, то надто прискіпливо, то люди нечемні, то кондиціонери не працюють, то квартира тісна, то товар неякісний, то кава рідка, то шоколад густий... Не вгодиш, одним словом))) І це ще цей пан Лебовіц до Києва не потрапив — вражень йому, напевне, вистачило б на тритомник)))
На тритомник вистачило б і приміток у цій книзі — їх тут понад 500. І все було б нічого, якби вони не були розміщені всі до одної наприкінці книги. Зізнаюся: багато про що (в основному це французькі слівця) доводилося просто здогадуватися, бо кілька разів на сторінку перегортати книгу туди-сюди, читаючи в метро, геть незручно. Перечитати їх усі гамузом зараз чи що?))) Ні, ліпше спробую щось спекти за рецептами з книги — вибрала для себе кілька таких, із якими точно маю впоратися. Про результати обов’язково повідомлю)))
One has to wonder why Lebowitz is so enthralled with Paris given that a good 85% of his book is complaining about the city and it's inhabitants. As an American expat to Europe myself, I certainly can identify with his frustration, but sometimes this book feels more like a rant than a memoir. With recipes. It definately feels like it was culled from a blog, which doesn't help the book. Lebowitz attributes a lot of things (rudeness, inability to walk properly, terrible grocery stores) as if they're uniquely Parisian, which makes one wonder if he's been to the rest of Europe. His observations in general hold true for Germany, at least. But like people who adopt New York as their city, Paris is "special" and thus all it's quirks are unique, at least in the eye of the transplant.
I'm biased against Lebowitz as a food writer/chef since he mentions on his blog that he doesn't like Indian food. Heresy! But I will grant that this book is entertaining and amusing, and that's about it.
After 12 years of working as a pastry chef at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, David Lebovitz moved to Paris, where he has now lived for several years. His book is an amusing and entertaining chronicle of becoming a Parisian — from getting along with other Parisians to finding the most delicious food, especially baked goodies, in the city. It means living in cramped quarters, being pushed and shoved in lines, dealing with grumpy sales clerks, learning how to dress, and what to do when you make an embarrassing faux pas: Leave the scene as fast as you can, muttering to yourself like a Parisian Il n'est pas de ma faute ! Il n'est pas de ma faute !
So many inscrutable French behaviors must be chalked up to cultural differences. So many perfectly normal requests are pas possible. And we Americans just don’t understand! Lebovitz offers a good many useful tips for anyone planning to take up residence in, or just visit, Paris. He also tells the best place to go for bread, for lemon-glazed madeleines, for cheeses, for steak frites, even microwave popcorn (if you must). As for the best chocolate? Lebovitz explains, that’s like going into a wine shop and asking, “What’s your best wine?” Nevertheless, he offers lots of useful information for chocoholics — how chocolate madness started in France, some of the myriad types and where to find them.
In addition to the engaging anecdotes are many mouth-watering recipes, most of which don’t look terribly complicated. Lebovitz has taken care to adjust them for American tastes and available ingredients. I am certain that I’ll soon be making Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds or Tomato and Sourdough Bread Salad. I’m not so sure about the Cinnamon Meringue with Espresso-Caramel Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce, and Candied Almonds (I feel as if I’ve gained weight just reading the recipe).
He also includes two great appendices: one a list of mail-order sources for hard-to-find French foods and ingredients, the other a list of many of his favorite French shops, bistros, and cafés (“Mes Bonnes Addresses”).
David Lebovitz has a particular and totally recognisable voice, and it’s one that I find very charming. He has a bit of David Sedaris waspishness, but he’s more self-deprecating. Humour is a constant base note, even if he is describing things that make him frustrated and crazy.
Although this book is unapologetically food-centred - he is a famous food writer, after all, and half the book is given over to recipes - it’s also an instructive insider/outsider view to life in Paris. It’s a Parisian mentality (particularly in relation to food culture) interpreted by a knowledgeable outsider who has ‘walked the walk’ and attempted to ‘talk the talk’. (Anyone who has spent time learning French will enjoy his anecdotes about misusing the language.)
I’ve not made a single recipe from this book, but I can attest to the general excellence of Lebovitz recipes and I feel comfortable vouching for them. Of course you will get the most out of this book if you are interested in Paris, French cuisine, baking and chocolate, but as long as you are interested in at least one of those things I feel comfortable in my recommendation.
Instead of April in Paris, I spent it in Vermont, savoring David Lebovitz's wonderful romp through the city. Following the death of his partner, Leibovitz makes the decision to move to Paris. Note, he was NOT running away, despite what many of his friends thought; instead it was an opportunity to “flip over the Etch A Sketch” of his life (I love that) and start over. A pastry chef at the lauded Chez Panisse for ten years and a well-known cookbook writer for several after that, he moved to the City of Lights for a new life. What started out as a blog about an American living and cooking in Paris was turned into this engaging story. He takes us along while he forges his way into becoming a Parisian. He is funny (oh, we Americans are a sight in Paris), self-deprecating and honest at times (how using the wrong word REALLY gets him in trouble), and lots of stories about the city and country's wonderful food and drink. Each chapter ends with a recipe, with Venetian-Style Sardines with Onions and Raisins, Oven Roasted Figs, and of course, Chocolate Mousse (I and II) to just name a few.
One story early on struck a chord with me. In chapter one, Lebovitz recounts that although it had been six years, he hadn’t given up hope that one day, La Poste will knock at his door and reunite him with the two cases of his absolute favorite, most beloved cookbooks. “Realistically, I have to assume by now that somebody, somewhere, has my fabulous library of personally autographed cookbooks by Julia Child, Richard Olney, and Jane Grigson. I just hope his name is David, he’s into cooking, and he treasures them as much as I did.” My heart broke when I read this.
This was such a thoroughly enjoyable read and I found myself smiling as he told his tales. Lebovitz's book has earned a well deserved spot on my writing desk, where he will share space with other wonderful food writers, Laurie Colwin, Judith Jones, Gesine Bullock-Prado, and another ex-pat, Julia Child.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: this book will make you hungry. It will make you hungry for hot, crunchy baguettes... frisee salad with melting rounds of goat cheese... and, of course, for chocolate. This book will make you especially hungry for chocolate. Case in point: I hardly ever drink hot cocoa. I generally find it to be too sweet and not my cup of tea. (See what I did there?) But after reading David Lebovitz's rhapsodizing about Parisian hot cocoa, I had two cups at lunch that day. No, it wasn't Parisian... but I was jonesing. David Lebovitz's delicious writing will do that to you.
Because oh, yes, this book is delicious. From the first page to the last, it was warm, funny, engaging, absorbing, and delightful. Needing a change in his life after experiencing the death of his partner, Lebovitz picks up and moves his entire life to Paris. There he explores the city through its food, tracking down the best baguettes and hot chocolate in the city. He learns to gut fish at a corner poissonerie, to avoid pushy Parisians at the grocery store, and to differentiate between confusingly named chocolate candies. He finds love again, almost has a heart attack (seriously one of the funniest moments in the book), watches the Parisians march under his window over anything and everything, and juggles government red tape and an apartment painter who seems to want to move in with him. Oh, and if great writing about a memorable city isn't enough to entice you to read this book... there are recipes. Lots of them. And knowing David Lebovitz's work (I have his ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop) they are all amazing. So even if you can't go to Paris this weekend - if only! - you can have a little taste of the sweet life in your own kitchen. C'est delicieux.
Having unabashedly binged the Netflix show Emily in Paris just for the city visuals, I wanted some sort of literary escape to Paris which led me to this piece of travel literature-cum-cookbook.
The Sweet Life in Paris is a sarcastic take on the Parisian experiences that the chef-turned-author had after moving there from San Francisco. It brings to focus the typical traits of Parisians that markedly stand out for an expat in Paris. The anecdotes draw upon the author's varied experiences - procuring items for testing multiple recipes for his cook books, volunteering at a famous chocolate boutique in a customer facing role, opting for an out-of-comfort-zone stint at the fish market, learning the language and carrying out typical daily activities.
Embedded within each chapter are both sweet and savoury recipes. While a lot of these recipes cropped up out of the blue, some of them were related to the topic discussed in the particular chapter. As I was drawn more to the setting of the book than the author's illustrious career, the recipes were often an aberration to the ongoing narration. In spite of that, reading the multitude of sugar-butter-flour recipes offer a pleasure somewhat similar to watching fancy cooking shows!
At times, one might feel the author is significantly critical of everything. But, having an open mind made it a light and enjoyable read for me.
This book hit me wrong when I first bought it. I had started in the the assumption that it was going to be something else. But, after having it sit for about a year I picked it up again as a bedside read as going to sleep filler. The short chapters with vignettes about David Lebovitz life in Paris as an ice cream maker and baker were fantastic reads. David's view of Paris is not fully in-line with the one I have had on my much sorter ventures there, but he uncovers a lot of gems and provides understanding for the seemingly rude (not something I ran into much, or my filters missed these) Parisian behaviors (I think this was where I put the book on hold, as I didn't have many encounters with the rude and detached Paris.
Each of the chapters in the book is accompanied by a recipe, none of them I have tried yet but I have placed the book in my cookbook shelf after reading it as a narrative book. I really like the depth and texture of Paris that David has added to my own experiences. I really enjoyed his explorations in jobs (fish monger, retail chocolate shop, etc.) and treks for finding ingredients and cooking implements.
3 main takeaways: 1. Parisians are jerks, and I’m scared to go there, 2. French pastries and chocolate are amazing and better than anything you could ever find in the US, and 3. David Lebovitz finds many, many men attractive. (He is gay and literally every chapter will hint and hint at that like someone hitting you in the head with a baguette a million times.) I finished it because I have an upcoming trip to Paris and just wanted to know some tips but as you can probably tell, not my favorite book.
I love David Lebovitz's blog and not a single of his recipes has failed me yet. His blog is www.davidlebovitz.com and I highly recommend it! I was kind of dreading his book because often times bloggers turn out to be terrible authors (shocking, I know!) and I didn't want enjoy his blog less for a lousy book. Happily, he was an author before he was a blogger and is a pro the whole way through.
This book is part Jeffrey Steingarten, part Peter Mayle. He has a wry sense of humor about Parisians, a pleasant humbleness about his clumsiness with the language and culture and a knack for story telling - especially when it comes to food. The book is chock full of recipes that themselves are full of funny asides, but the heart of the book is basically his memoirs of moving to and living in Paris.
However, it is a thin line between complaining and making light about hardships and by the end of the book, he teeters toward bitter. But I get it, for the most part. Picking up and moving somewhere where you have no connections and barely speak the language is a tough thing to do and to laugh your way through the hard bits is commendable. The strongest stories were about him and those he got to know on a more personal level. Less so the flogging of Parisians as a whole (albeit well deserved).
Чомусь я очікувала від цієї книжки більшого! Не робіть моєї помилки :) Якщо ж ви в настрої на легке «блоггерське» чтиво, тоді є шанс, що вона вам сподобається.
Якщо коротко, кондитер-американець депресує від свого життя у Штатах і вирішує переїхати у мекку шоколаду та круасанів, а саме Париж. Він багато жаліється на труднощі та всі непорозуміння, які спіткали його у столиці Франції, хоча й намагається це робити зі самоіронією. Найцікавіше — це низка рецептів, які він подає у кожному розділі.
Я собі відмітила на майбутнє: шоколадний соус та зацукрований мигдаль, пиріг з абсентом (бо мій муж любить каву з абсентом), пряничний хліб із шоколадом (мені здалось він має бути чудовим на різдвяні свята через всі ті прянощіііі), тапенад з інжиру й оливок (бо його можна подавати з тостами або з крекерами, намазати на смажену курячу грудку чи на стейк), тарт «татен» із карамелізованими яблуками і брауні зі згущеним молоком (що може бути краще згущеного молока? О так, я забула про «нутеллу»). Один з найкращих розділів в книжці називається «любити le fromage», і в ньому дуже смачно описується вся та різновидність французького сииииииру.. Після прочитання тих кількох сторінок, довелося вибігти за клаптиком камамберу!
I first got to know David Lebovitz through his amazing recipes, so I subscribed to his blog and follow his posts with great interest. I eagerly expected this book, and now that I've read it, I must admit that it was a delicious experience. While nothing close to humble, he's not the typical arrogant American, and he's funny as hell. I never expected to laugh so much while reading a chef's memoir. His remarks about life in France, and Paris in particular, were insightful, informative, and I suppose they might prove quite useful even for the casual tourist. I'll definitely look up his Paris Kitchen. The narrator for the audio book had the perfect french pronunciation, but was otherwise somewhat monotonous for my taste. I wonder how this book would have sounded read by Tim Gerard Reynolds...
This was a light, funny, and quick account of a pastry chef who decided to move to Paris, without knowing the language or culture, after having lived in San Francisco for twenty years. It's often quite amusing and is ordered in chapters that focus on simple anecdotes. Each chapter is followed by at least one, but usually two or three, recipes, which all look VERY good. The book would have been much more interesting to me had it not consisted mainly of incessant complaining about Parisians. The whining grew tiresome quickly. Had this been the only book I had read about Paris, I would most certainly never want to visit there.
This book incorporates two of my favorite things: humor and food. David Lebovitz's wry comparisons of life in Paris vs. life in just about any American city are giggle-out-loud-worthy, and his adventures in various patisseries, boulangeries, cafes and shops are generally captivating. In particular I got a kick out of the dig on overpriced E. Dehillerin, where my husband and/or I have shopped on every occasion we've been in Paris, to obtain yet another copper pot for our growing collection. Next time I'll know where to go, as well as where NOT to go!
Very enjoyable and entertaining memoir by chef David Lebovitz on his time in Paris following the death of his partner. Some of the recipes included in the book sound great (so far, I've only made the Mousse au Chocolat from it), but what i enjoyed most were the descriptions of his daily life and experiences, the snooty Parisiens and how the author went to great lengths to assimilate.
I really loved everything about this book, and apparently food memoirs are a genre I didn't really know existed. Lebovitz is entertaining and his take on the French and French culture had me rolling. Even better were his descriptions of food and RECIPES. I will be making his brownies and hot chocolate regularly. I borrowed this from the library, but I will definitely pick up a copy for keeps.
I worked a job with women who were all at least 30 years older than me. I heard this joke all the time: "I'm looking for a guy with a bulge in his pants. BUT IN THE BACK HAHAHA!!@!!!!" meaning his wallet. They were, by and large, nice ladies who dealt pretty gently with a frustrated dread-bag who cried at her desk and ate all the candy (me). Something about that joke made me want to desperately walk around, put my hand on someone's arm and softly say "am I alone?" That kind of joke is dumb. No big deal. Yet it fills me with disproportionate sadness about the futility of human connection.
This summer I ate an ile flotant, a French dessert that is normally boring merangue on a custard sauce. This one was so pillowy and perfect, I wept and laughed uncontrollably eating at the bar with my friend. I wept trying to describe it days later. I am currently tearing up thinking about it. I am not a foodie. That ile flotant was transcendent and meaningful. I could decline all dessert and candy after that because that ile flotant told me I am not alone and love is not a lie. It was a weird summer.
This book is written by a pastry chef in France.
I think this guy had a ghost writer. Or an aggressive editor. His life is too fascinating for this book. He writes things with a lot of eyebrow wiggling and "did you get my joke" elbow poking. I believe his actual life involves more drinking and swearing and grit and breaking a glass and screaming about something he loves while foaming at the mouth. And inordinate sobbing. I mean he moved to Paris because he wanted to. Either he's pretending he's not in possession of inordinate, insane, embarrassing wealth, or he is keeping it light because this is a cookbook for God's sake. It feels like he is winking and flirting with my great aunt and saying "I'd sure like to spend an afternoon with HIM" about a cute guy flinging fish. And I want to say "to what? to f*ck?" and make everyone uncomfortable and then later bust him with the fish guy. This probably says more about me than him, but it is the same trapped feeling you get when someone is not telling the full truth about something fascinating.
Also I guess I am from America and spent time in France and I remember the two dudes I found attractive because I didn't outweigh them and they weren't smoking and moping. Those two dudes turned out to be American.
I mean I guess the truth is I wanted him to write a book called "Paris is Confusing But the Food is Incredible." Or "Sometimes I Am Moved at Inconvenient Times." Or "Poems for an Ile Flotant."
Here are quotes with my edits:
"Aside from the fact that I would be dangerously close to the squid, even more frightening was that they told me to come the following Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. And let me tell you, there's nothing scarier than I am at 5:30 a.m. [calm down, he is just saying that for effect and it makes his coworkers and his boyfriend laugh. Maybe he is really scary. Maybe he brings up his childhood and all of your weaknesses and spirals into dread and claims to see the future. Maybe he sobs and doesn't get dressed. Maybe he mutters in a satanic language that he clearly understands. Okay?] A giant octopus doesn't even come close. [Look, he is afraid of betrayal and emptiness like everyone, okay? He is afraid of squids, so for him, this would be terrifying and not interesting from a biological standpoint. Again, this is said for effect and he and his loved ones enjoy talking about his fears of squid. Yes, it is not possible for a giant octopus to be alive and walking to work unless he lived in a cartoon. This is confusing. In fairness, you are maybe overthinking this?] As anyone who's worked with me can attest, I'm distinctly unpleasant in the morning. [? okay, well, maybe he doesn't realize most people aren't morning people. Wait, I thought there was nothing scarier? Hold up, I thought he should be scarier than something that ate a submarine? Now it's just distinctly unpleasant? What is going on. Who is this ghost writer. Honestly.]"
"Certain I was dying, I did the first thing any normal person would do in that situation: I turned on my computer and checked my email for one last time. [He is making a joke. He wouldn't actually do that, neither would a normal person.]"
"Then, suddenly, the worst thing that could happen to anyone in Paris happened. I had to go to the bathroom. [Okay, I see why you're getting frustrated.]"
"I certainly didn't want my mother's worst fears realized--to have her son arrive at the emergency room with less-than-pristine undies...[Maybe you just shouldn't read this book?]"
"Perhaps the city of Paris needs to add fashion police to the other duties of the gendarmes. [just go to the library.]"
Паризьке життя очима американського кондитера, смішні ситуації, атмосферні локації, цікаві історії і бага-а-ато рецептів смачних французьких страв - те, що треба для довгого вікенду. Можна і начитатися, і намріятися, і зготувати якусь смакоту... Що я і зробила :) . І хоч парижани в очах Девіда Лебовіца виглядають не найприємнішими людьми, деякі звички яких шокують, а репцепти - хоч без пір'їни полярної сови і ніжок диких мурах - містять складники, які важко знайти на полицях володимирських супермаркетів, gateau therese (він же шоколадний торт) вдався надзвичайно ароматним, оксамитово-ніжним і справді шоколадним та смачним. . Більше про книжку (і рецепт шоколадного торта) - вже незабаром у великій подвійній рецензії для Yakaboo
In the past week, I've read two "fish out of water" memoirs: Lebovitz's and Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, and "The Sweet Life in Paris" is by far the more entertaining, more earnest, and more introspective. (And significantly less curmudgeonly.) As a pastry chef, Lebovitz is not a professional writer, but his writing completely engrossed me, keeping me up far later than I should, and his tales of living in Paris amused this former (and hopefully future) expat.
Lebovitz nails the expatriate experience, from the large—vast cultural differences, wrangling with bureaucracy, and interpersonal relations—to the more mundane, but certainly not less important—figuring out where to buy seemingly common household items, learning how to navigate household chores, and grocery shopping.
Something my mother has wondered for years: "For the life of me, and every other American living in Europe, I can't figure out why it takes two hours to wash a load in a European machine in Europe, whereas washing a load in a European machine in America takes only forty minutes." (Loc. 417–419)
His conclusion, after living in Paris for 6 years and finally feeling like he's fitting in: "I've managed to survive any wrath I've invoked with my special brand of American optimism (and brownies). ...What helped was that I understood the food and tried my best to adapt to the culture, rather than trying to make the culture adapt to me. I arrived knowing a fair amount about the pastries, cheeses, chocolates, and breads, which impressed the French, and I also soaked up as much as I could. More important, though, I learned to take the time to get tto know people, especially the vendors and merchants, who would patiently explain their wares to me. Plenty of people who move here arrive wide-eyed and excited, only to leave after a year because they miss their favorite brand of shampoo, or air conditioning, or customer service, or 110-cm shoelaces.... I'll admit there are plenty of things that I miss, too, but I've also made new friends, had quite a few unusual experiences, and feel much more a part of the global community than I would had I stayed in the States." (Loc. 4304–4313) "On visits back to the States, I always anticipate the trip, thinking 'Ah, I can't wait to be around people who understand me.' But that isn't always the case anymore, and nowadays I'm not quite sure where I fit in: here or there. And I'm okay with that." (Loc. 4341—4343) The expat life, in a nutshell.
Not only did I bookmark many of his recipes, I found some wonderful tidbits of advice.
Rules for survival in any food service environment (which work pretty well for all other environments, really): (Loc. 1584–1593)
1) Never lie about your experience or skill level. "You'll be busted for it almost immediately, and it's more endearing to be eager to learn new skills than to screw up."
2) Know how to move in a kitchen. (Okay, maybe not as much a transferable skill, but aptitude can sometimes trump experience.)
3) Be willing to do anything. "If you're above doing any sort of work...you're not part of the team."
How to slice cheese: (Loc. 3023–3035)
* Solid round cheese (Camembert, etc.)—cut into wedges, like a cake * Particularly small cheese (palm-sized)—cut lengthwise into slices * Wedges of cheese from a larger round—do not cut off the tip; take a lengthwise slice from the side and include a bit of rind * Rectangular chunks—cut across into sticks, preferably including a bit of rind on both ends
I'm not sure how much of this is still true, but it's an interesting factoid: "Contrary to what a lot of people imagine, many French workers aren't part of any syndicat at all. In 2005, just under 10 percent of the workers here were members of a union, one of the lowest rates in Europe. The same year, 12 percent of Americans belonged to a union. Yet the unions hold a lock-hard grip in France, much stronger than elsewhere, and they certainly enjoy more widespread public support than they do in America." (Loc. 3173–3176)
The Sweet Life in Paris reads more like a compiled series of expanded blog posts, combined with lots of recipes, than it does a sustained book. I don't know that that is necessarily a problem, 'cause it's still fun to read (especially for someone who once lived in Paris and just came back from another trip there). Here's how I see this book coming into being:
David Levovitz's Agent (DLA): "David, you should really write a book about your experiences in Paris. You're so observant and funny!"
David Lebovitz (DL): "But, DLA, I'm not really that kind of writer. I write cookbooks and I write about food."
DLA: "But I've read your blog. You write about Paris as well. You're popular enough that I can auction off the proposal in no time! Then all you'll have to do is expand some of those entries, write a few more, string them all together, and I'll take care of the rest. Piece of cake. Oh, and add in some recipes for cake. And other stuff, too."
All that said, Lebovitz is pretty endearing and self-deprecating and funny, even if his prose is a little jarring at times (he jumps around and has some awkward phrasing.) I had not heard of him before and only read it because of the aforementioned trip to Paris; upon returning my friend Dana gave me a copy of the book. (Thanks Dana!)
While I appreciate this true, firsthand account of life in Paris, I didn't really care for the book overall. Some of the chapters were just fine, and I found myself laughing from time to time, but for the most part, the chapters felt long complaints. I'm sure that adjusting to life in a foreign county is difficult, but there have to be some good things about it, otherwise why would you stay? In this case, the good things are the food, and I did enjoy reading about all the fantastic fare Paris has to offer. And I liked that there were a lot of recipes included, although I just glanced over most of them and probably won't ever try to make more than one or two. This book offers an interesting perspective on life for an American in Paris, but there are books out there that address the same situation with more humor and with more encouragement to visit Paris despite all it's eccentricities.
I have read David Lebovitz's blog and various articles by him, but this is the first full book of his that I've ever read and it probably won't be my last. I purchased this as "research" for a recent trip to Paris. I thoroughly enjoyed his musings on the cultural differences an American living in Paris encounters and I can't wait to try some of the recipes which sound divine. At the end he even lists all of his favorite places/resources throughout the city from chocolate shops to bakeries. If you aren't going to Paris any time soon, this charming little book will make you feel like you have a true glimpse of life in the City of Light and will quite possibly have you longing (as it does me) to live in a place that reveres and nurtures chocolatiers and bakers.