David Lebovitz, American expat living in Paris, spent more than a dozen years as Pastry Chef at Chez Panisse, perfecting his craft. He is the author of six delicious dessert cookbooks , and a great blog where he writes about his adventures with his wry take on just about everything.
The recipe section of the blog is filled with droolingly delicious recipes accompanied by stunning photos and his little asides... you'd swear he was standing right beside you. I mean, check out this amazing post about Pistachio & Chorizo Cake... (I had to rush out to buy the pistachios and will be making this sometime this week)...but I digress.
This post is about his new book The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City. It's about his adventures... and misadventures in the City of Lights & Love, about adjusting to living in Paris, and of course eating in Paris.
I particularly love his tales about Parisian etiquette, In fact, I wish he had written the book earlier...much earlier. Where was it when my Honey and I visited Paris during that phenomenal heat wave back in the mid '90's? The responses when I whined about the heat - no air conditioning in our very Old World charming hotel with one tiny window, no screen and a bazillion pigeons on the ledge just dying to join us in our room - were always met with the same shrug and look of disdain from the locals.
But the story that had me laugh out loud was the chapter entitled "Water, Water Everywhere - But You Can't Have Any". It's hilarious and brought back my own sorry water story about finding a cafe and asking for water...more precisely, the biggest glass of water... "big enough to take a bath in". Only after reading David's take, did it make everything clear... the infinite wait, the gallon sized glass, and the smirk on the waiter's face... not to mention the exorbitant cost! Now I know... exaggeration is not an option!
His stories are so funny, I'd buy the book even if it didn't have any recipes. That said, one doesn't have to choose between a book of stories and one of tantilizing dishes, since there are both here. The recipes are wonderful... everything from the classic chocolate cake every Parisan woman whips up to a most interesting Chicken Mole (one of my favorite Mexican dishes that, until now I had yet to find equal to the one I ate in a Cancun 20 years ago on my honeymoon). Thank you David! This one is truly superb... awesome... amazing... I could go on forever with hyperbole, but I'd rather just have another helping.
Bottom line: If you're planning a trip to Paris... great insights in how to act when you're there, plus great restaurants to try. If you've ever been to Paris, it will bring back those wonderful and head scratching moments. If you're dreaming about Paris and how to create some wonderful, easy to make recipes to pretend you're there... this book will magically take you there.