Saturday, May 4, 2013

An American in Paris

So, you might remember that when the new Books A Million store opened in my neighborhood, I rushed right in and bought The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz.  This book had been on my radar for a while, because I seem to be drawn to books written by cooking bloggers, like Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond, and My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.  And this one is set in my favorite city, Paris.

I have to say, it wasn't quite what I expected.  David Lebovitz tells his tales about what it is like for an American to move to Paris.  Many of the stories are exactly what you would think - the shop keepers are surly, the stores have unpredictable hours - that kind of a thing.  But David Lebovitz is a cookbook author, who has written books about desserts, chocolate, and ice cream.  So when he promises a "sweet life in Paris", that's what I expected.  The thing is,  I think he told the truth and didn't sugar coat it, as much as he may have been inclined to do, and as much as his consumers may have hoped.

This book is full of recipes, which is one of the reasons that I bought it.  Generally, when a book has a lot of good recipes in it, it is sort of pointless for me to borrow it from the library, because I know that I'll buy it sooner or later anyway.  But there weren't a lot of corners that I turned down with the intention of trying them myself. 

Truth be told, I like his blog better.  Here is a link to it.  In his blog, when he discusses a new recipe, he tells the story of where he found the ingredients, or why he wanted to try it.  In his book, the recipes are sort of just things to put after the vignettes about his life.  For instance, there's the recipe for Chocolate Spice Bread, that immediately follows a discussion about whether it is better for a man who needs to be hairless "from belly to toe" for a surgery to shave or use a hair removal cream.  How could I eat that bread?

Given that I was unlikely to make many of the recipes, I was sort of regretting my decision to purchase this one.   Then we came to the end (as Joshua Ferris might say).  At the end of the book, Lebovitz, gives us two things that are pretty great.  The first is a resource list for where Americans can find French ingredients.  This is what was missing from My Berlin Kitchen, and I was so glad to find it here.  The second is the list of Lebovitz's favorite French addresses.  You should probably buy the book just for this.  He lists great restaurants, chocolate shops, hot chocolate stops, and department stores.  I trust him completely, and want to go to every place that he mentions.  If only I could go back to Paris now.

Next up:  Well, it's kind of a funny story. . . no, it's not all that funny actually.  I still haven't gotten Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt from my library, even though I am first on the list for both the audio and paper versions.  So, now I am listening to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet by David Mitchell, and tonight I'll start reading it on paper too.  That way, it doesn't matter if I get Wolves in audio or paper version.  I'll continue with Jacob DeZoet in one form, and start Wolves in the other.

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