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The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City (Anglais) Relié – 5 mai 2009

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I distinctly remember the exact moment when I became Parisian. It wasn’t the moment when I found myself seriously considering buying dress socks with goofy cartoon characters on them. Nor was it the time I went to my bank with €135 in hand to make a payment for €134, and thought it completely normal when the teller told me that the bank didn’t have any change that day.

And I’m sure it wasn’t when I ran into the fiftysomething receptionist from my doctor’s office sunbathing topless by the Seine, à la française, and I didn’t avert my eyes (much as I wanted to).

It wasn’t when my shoulder bag caught the sweater of a young boy in La Maison du Chocolat and, as it started to unravel, I ignored his woeful cries. “C’est pas ma faute! ” I reasoned to myself before walking away. After all, who in their right mind would wear a sweater to a chocolate shop, anyway?  It could have been the moment when I listened intently as two Parisian friends explained to me why the French are so determined to clip the pointed tips off haricots verts before cooking them. Was it because that’s where the radiation collects in the green beans, as one person insisted? Or was it to prevent the little points from getting stuck in your teeth, which the other one assured me would happen? Even though I didn’t remember ever getting a string bean end lodged between my teeth, nor did I think radiation had the ability to slide around in vegetables, I found myself nodding in agreement.

No, the exact moment happened just a few months after I’d arrived in Paris. I was spending a lazy Sunday in my apartment lounging around in faded sweatpants and a loose, tattered sweatshirt, my ideal outfit for doing nothing in particular. By late afternoon, I’d finally mustered the energy to take the elevator downstairs to the inner courtyard of my apartment building to empty the garbage.  With the elevator door exactly three steps from my front door and the garbage room just five steps from the elevator landing at the bottom, the trip involves basically four movements—walk out the door, take the elevator down, dump the garbage, and go back up.

The whole process should take maybe forty-five seconds.  So I extracted myself from the sofa, shaved, changed into a pair of real pants, tucked in a clean wrinkle-free shirt, and slipped on a pair of shoes and socks before heading toward the door with my little plastic sac for the poubelle.  God forbid I should run into someone from my building while wearing my Sunday worst.  And that, mes amis, was when I realized I had become Parisian.
The unspoken rule if you plan to live here—but equally good to adopt even if you’re just coming for a visit—is knowing that you’re going to be judged on how you look and how you present yourself. Yes, even if you’re just dumping your garbage. You don’t want anyone else, such as a neighbor (or worse, one of those garbagemen in their nifty green outfits), to think you’re a slob, do you?

Since only 20 percent of Americans have passports, we don’t get out as much as we should, and our dealings with foreigners are usually on our own turf where they have to play by our rules. We’re not so good at adapting to others, since we’re rarely in a position that requires us to do it. I’ve heard a variety of complaints from visitors (and uttered a few myself) expecting things to be like they are back home: “Why don’t they have doggie bags?” “How come there’s no ice?” “Why can’t I pick something up off the store shelf?” or “Why is our waiter flirting with those Swedish girls and having a cigarette when we asked for our check over thirty minutes ago?”

I wonder why when we travel outside the United States we expect people to behave like Americans—even in their own country. Think about it for a minute: how many waiters, taxi drivers, hotel clerks, shopkeepers, and others in your hometown could or would respond to a French person who spoke only French? If you don’t speak French and have traveled to Paris, you were probably helped by a number of people who speak pretty good English. And almost all Europeans coming to our shores make it a point to adapt to our customs. Well, almost all. Don’t ask a waiter who’s just been stiffed on his 18 percent tip.

Every culture has certain rules. In America for some unknown reason, you can’t get wine at fast- food restaurants, and spending a few minutes digging deeply inside your nose on public transit is frowned upon. In Paris, the rules dictate one shouldn’t dress in grungy jeans and a ripped T-shirt, unless it says “Let’s Sex! . . . NOW!!” painted in gold lettering across the front. To live in a foreign country you need to learn the rules, especially if you plan to stay. And I had to learn plenty.
Like so many other people, I dreamed about living in Paris ever since my first visit in the ’80s, during that rite of passage every American student fresh out of college used to embark upon, before kids decided it was less of a hassle to explore the world with RAM rather than a Railpass. Why bother getting lost in the labyrinth of historic cities, dining on regional delicacies, sleeping with total strangers in youth hostels, and soaping up in communal showers with a team of Italian soccer players? Yes, I suppose it’s far better to stay home and experience Europe though a computer screen. But back then, I had quite a time doing most of those things. (I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess which ones.) But explore I did. I spent almost a year traipsing around the continent after college doing nothing in particular except learning about European cultures, primarily by pulling up a stool or chair and eating what the locals ate. During that time, I made it through almost every country in Europe and tried whatever local delicacies were to be had: oozing raw- milk cheeses in France and hearty, grain- packed breads in Germany; Belgian milk chocolates that when sniffed, could transport you to a dairy farm in the countryside; and crispy- skin fish grilled over gnarled branches in the souks of Istanbul. And of course, lots of buttery pastries and crusty breads smeared with plenty of golden- yellow butter in Paris, the likes of which I’d never tasted before.

After months of criss-crossing Europe, in dire need of a good, deep scrubbing and a proper haircut to rein in my unruly mop of curls (which definitely earned me the term dirty blond), I eventually ran out of steam—and money—and returned to the States. During the carefree time I’d spent traipsing from country to country, I hadn’t given any thought to my future and what I’d do after I returned. Why spoil the fun? Back in America, after seeing a world outside of our sometimes isolating borders, I didn’t quite know where I would fit in and hadn’t a clue as to where to go or what to do with my life.

I’d read about “California cuisine,” which was a new and exciting concept just emerging back then. And something to do with food seemed like an interesting option, since I didn’t see Europe through my eyes, but my stomach. Everything I’d tasted was a far cry from my college days, when I worked at a vegetarian restaurant ladling out peanut butter–thickened soups and dishing up desserts made by our long-haired baker, who added his own unique touches to anything he baked. In fact, I can still smell his fruit cobblers filled with apples and kidney beans, baked and scented with his signature handful of cumin, which gave them a distinctly unpleasant odor.

On second thought, that might have been him.

Fortunately, the European style of cooking was gaining a foothold in northern California, and there was a new appreciation for fine foods and cooking du marché: buying locally produced foods at their peak of freshness, which was a daily ritual in Europe. It seemed like common sense to me, and simply the right way to eat. So I packed up and moved to San Francisco, just across the bay from Berkeley, where an exciting culinary revolution was simmering. And I hoped cumin- scented desserts weren’t a part of it.

Shopping the outdoor markets of the Bay Area, I discovered farmers who were raising things like blood oranges with tangy, wildly colored juices and tight bunches of deep- violet radicchio, which people at the time assumed were runty heads of cabbage. Laura Chenel was producing European- style moist rounds of fresh goat cheese in Sonoma, which were so unfamiliar that Americans were mistaking them for tofu (especially in Berkeley). And viticulturists in Napa Valley were producing hearty wines, like Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, which had a great affinity for the newly celebrated regional cuisine, which was liberally seasoned with lots of fragrant garlic, branches of rosemary and thyme, and drizzled with locally pressed olive oil—a big improvement over the bland “salad oil” I grew up with.

I was thrilled—no, astounded—to find the culinary counterparts to everything I had eaten in Europe. I savored the hand- dipped ultrafine chocolates of Alice Medrich at Cocolat, which rivaled those I had swooned over in swanky French chocolate boutiques. I’d line up daily for a boule of pain au levain that Steve Sullivan would pull out of his fired-up brick oven every morning over at Acme Bread, and was ecstatic to find many of the pungent cheeses I remembered so fondly from Europe stacked up at the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley, just across from Chez Panisse.  Since I believed that if I was really going to pursue a restaurant career I should start at the top, I applied for a job at Chez Panisse, where Alice Waters was leading this culinary revolution I wanted to enlist in. I sent a letter to the restaurant, waited a few weeks, and got no response. Despite the lack of acknowledgment or enthusiasm on their part, I presented myself at the now- famous redwood archway, ready to embark on my lifelong career as a chef. I marched inside, where a busy waiter, who was rushing by holding a tray of wineglasses and wearing a white shirt, tie, and long apron, looking remarkably like a garçon in Paris, pointed me toward the bright kitchen in the back of the dining room.

The kitchen staff was working at full throttle. Some were maniacally rolling out ultrathin, nearly transparent sheets of pasta. Others were painstakingly trimming carrots tinier than a baby’s pinky, their peelers thwacking against the countertop at warp speed, spewing bright orange curlicues, then tossing each denuded root into a stainless steel bin with a little plunk before seamlessly moving on to the next one.  One cook was busy layering moist rounds of goat cheese in well- worn earthenware crocks, ripping apart bunches of thyme and layering them between whole cloves of garlic and pinelike branches of rosemary. In the back, I noticed some women intently guarding the oven doors, checking inside every few moments. I had no idea at the time that they were scrupulously watching the progress of Lindsey Shere’s famous almond tarts—making sure they didn’t cook a second too long and were taken out just when they reached their precise degree of caramelization.

I went over to speak with the chef, who was at the epicenter of it all, directing the chaos around her. Overwhelmed by it all, I asked in my most timid voice if there was any possibility . . . any way at all . . . she could perhaps find a place for me at Chez Panisse—the Greatest Restaurant in America.

She closed her eyes and put down her knife midslice, then turned around to look at me. And in front of the entire kitchen staff, she proceeded to tell me off, saying she had no idea who I was and how could I think that I could just walk into the restaurant unannounced and ask for a job? Then she picked up her knife and started chopping again, which I took as a pretty good indication that I should leave.

And that was the end of my first job interview in laid-back California.  So I went to work at another restaurant in San Francisco, where I found myself in way over my head and in a job that was downright horrible.  The chef was a complete nutcase and should have traded his chef’s jacket for a more restrictive padded one, with buckles in the rear. My Sunday brunch shift would begin with his breaking open and smashing to bits all the scones I had carefully rolled out, cut, and baked that morning, verifying that each one was, indeed, flaky. And by my last shift (ever), I was so flustered by it all that, as I struggled to keep up with the barrage of orders that came streaming in, I neglected a pot of simmering fryer oil, which turned into a raging fire.

Cumin-scented cobblers were beginning to seem not quite so bad after all. (I do have a few good memories of that place, though. I still get a chuckle when I think how one of my coworkers, who was teaching me a few words in Vietnamese, taught me how to say “sweet potatoes” in his native language, which actually meant “blow job.” Nowadays I wonder what the other prep cooks were thinking when I called downstairs and asked one of them to come upstairs because I desperately needed some “sweet potatoes.”)

After each day of work, I’d drag myself home and collapse in a defeated heap, near tears. Waking up the next morning, I found myself filled with so much dread that I could barely heave myself out of bed. So when I heard the news that the chef at Chez Panisse was leaving to open her own place, I plotted my escape—a triumphant return to where I rightfully belonged.  At least I thought so. After scoring an interview with the new chef and undergoing the final scrutiny of Alice Waters herself, I was soon proudly working at Chez Panisse.

(I have to mention that the original chef who disparaged me turned out to be a terrific person, warm and supportive of up-and-coming chefs, and someone I like and respect very much. Although not French, she was my first encounter with a short-fuse French- style temperament and good practice for things to come.)

In all, I spent nearly thirteen years cooking at Chez Panisse, most of it working in the pastry department, joining the select few who’ve mastered Lindsey’s famed, and notoriously tricky, almond tart. I’m not one for hero worship, but I will certainly say that Alice Waters was a formidable force, and she kept the hundred-plus cooks who worked there on their toes at all times. Someone once said, “You don’t know terror until you’ve heard the sound of Alice’s footsteps coming toward you.”

And how true that was. I quickly learned that the faster those little feet were racing toward me, the more trouble I was going to be in. For all my smart-alecky retorts, though, Alice was almost always right, and each upbraiding was actually a valuable lesson for a young cook like me. Alice was committed to instilling in us her ideas for using seasonal and local ingredients long before the idea became such an overused cliché that airline menus are now touting “locally grown” ingredients. And she inspired us to put those ideas into action in the food we were cooking.  Lindsey Shere, the co- owner of the restaurant and executive pastry chef, was also a constant, and lasting, source of inspiration. From Lindsey, I learned that making our deceptively simple desserts was often far more difficult than creating complex, multitiered, over-the-top sugary extravaganzas.  Simplicity meant our ingredients—fruits, nuts, and chocolates—needed to be absolutely top- notch, and sourcing the best of them was an integral part of our job.

Lindsey constantly surprised me with a taste of something new and unexpected—like fresh, tender apricots gently poached in sweet Sauternes to complement their tang, or a scoop of freshly churned rose- flavored ice cream, its perfumed aroma infused with the fragrant petals she’d plucked from her dewy garden that morning. There were golden-brown biscotti with the crunch of toasted almonds, each bite releasing the curious scent of anise, and what became my absolute favorite: wedges of very dark chocolate cake, made with European-style bittersweet chocolate, which were barely sweet. I gobbled up hunks of it every chance I could.  Each day was a revelation to me, and I learned restraint in a profession where the prevalent wisdom had always been not to let guests leave unless they were gut-bustingly full. I knew I was in the right place when I was told “This is the one restaurant where the customer isn’t always right.” When I started, I worked in the café upstairs, and learned how to let the leaves of just-picked lettuce fall from my hands into an airy heap on the plate just so. Later, when I moved to the pastry department, I reveled in the fraises des bois, tiny wild strawberries raised especially for us, each one a tiny burst of the most intense strawberry flavor imaginable, which we’d serve with just a scoop of nutty crème fraîche and a sprinkle of sugar, letting the flavor of the wild berries shine. We were making food that was meant to inspire, not be mindlessly ingested. With each flat of picture perfect fruit or berries I tore into, I realized I was part of something very special.

While I happily learned dessert making surrounded by the most dedicated cooks imaginable, as the years wore on something else was happening:

My back and brain were suffering under the stress and brutal demands of restaurant work. Cooks are known to move rapidly from job to job, but they stay put at Chez Panisse. When only the highest- quality ingredients are available to you and you’re surrounded by a terrific crew of people with the same passionate interest in sending out the best food possible, where do you go next? What do you do?

So after over a decade, I left Chez Panisse. But then had to ask myself, “What should I do?” I didn’t really know, but Alice suggested I write a book of desserts. So I started by plucking my favorite cookbooks off the shelf and seeing what features appealed to me most. I had created quite a few recipes and adapted some that were inspired by others, and I wanted to share them in a friendly, approachable style. Most of them were simple to make and didn’t require an arsenal of fancy equipment.  I also wanted to shift people’s perception of dessert from being the rich overload, the proverbial “nail in the coffin” that seals one’s fate after dinner, to simpler sweets that concentrated on the pure flavors of fresh fruits and dark chocolate. I was delighted when people reported back that my recipes had become part of their permanent repertoires and happy to be carrying on with the foundations that Lindsey and Alice had instilled in me.

After a few years in the pajama-clad workforce of folks who work at home (or in my case, specifically, in the kitchen), I had a life-changing experience: I unexpectedly lost my partner, who had been the vision of health and vitality. It was one of those unimaginable experiences in life where everything around you stops and you go into shock, able to do only what’s necessary to stay afloat. I was devastated, and as Joan Didion wrote in A Year of Magical Thinking, I found myself in that “place none of us know until we reach it.”

Eventually, after months and months of numbness, I realized I needed to rejoin life. After learning that life can take an unexpected turn when you don’t think it will, I sought to regain my footing and felt ready to move forward.  It was an opportunity to flip over the Etch A Sketch of my life, give it a good shake, and start again. I had so much: a job in one of the best restaurants in America, a few well-received cookbooks, a beautiful house in San Francisco with a professionally equipped kitchen, and lots of really close friends who meant the world to me. But all that wasn’t fueling me anymore.  After all I’d gone through, I was emotionally exhausted and in need of something to recharge me.

So I decided to move to Paris.

My friends reacted by saying, “You can’t run away, David.” But I didn’t feel like I was running from anything; I was heading in a new direction.

Why would anyone run from a beautiful city like San Francisco, where I had lived most of my life, and where all my friends were? Well, because there was Paris.

I had fallen in love with Paris when I had attended some advanced pastry classes at the prestigious Ecole Lenôtre a few years earlier. One night after a lively dinner with friends, I was walking alone across one of the graceful bridges that cross the Seine. If you’ve ever walked through Paris at night, you can’t help noticing that its beauty is magnified in the darkness; lights glow softly everywhere and frame the centuries-old buildings and monuments in spectacular ways. I remember that evening breathing in the damp air rising off the Seine, watching the Bateaux Parisiens gliding on the river, loaded with awestruck tourists, and illuminating the monuments in their wake, the dramatic light hitting a building for just a few moments before moving on to the next.

It’s the life of the city, though, that held the most appeal for me and inspired my move. Paris is a major metropolis, yet has all the peculiarities and charms of a small town. Each neighborhood has a special personality, its butchers and bakers, the maraîchers at the open-air stalls selling fruits and vegetables piled high, and the cafés, which Parisians use as makeshift living rooms to mingle with friends over a glass of wine, or just to sit by themselves with a chilled kir, content to do nothing more than gaze off in the distance.

It all seemed good to me. So off I went.


M A K E S 1 S E RV I N G

Kir is a popular apértif named after the former mayor of Dijon who dedicated himself to reviving the café culture in Burgundy after it had been devastated by World War II. He was a big proponent of this apértif, which featured a splash of crème de cassis, a fruity liqueur made with locally produced black currants. This further endeared him to the locals, as well as to me.

Substitute Champagne for the white wine and you’ve got a kir royale. Just be sure to serve it in a Champagne flute, which even the humblest and funkiest café in Paris will do. I prefer my kir on the lighter side, although it’s very au courant to use a bit more cassis than suggested here.

11/2 to 2 teaspoons crème de cassis

1 glass well-chilled dry white wine, preferably Aligoté, or another tangy-dry white wine, such as Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc, will also do

Pour the crème de cassis into a wineglass.

Add the wine and serve.

The accompaniment of choice, in Paris, is salted peanuts. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition MP3 CD .

Revue de presse

“David Lebovitz is the greatest thing to happen to dessert since the spoon, but this time he shows that beyond his artful nose and flawless taste, he also has a keen reporter’s eye. If Paris intrigues, excites, or merely interests you, read this book.”--Mort Rosenblum, author of The Secret Life of the Seine, A Goose in Toulouse, Olives, and Chocolate: A Bittersweet Story of Dark and Light

“Cooks aren’t usually such good writers—so funny, skeptical, and observant. He’s a wonderful one. Also, I’m a fervent fan of his ice-cream book, so I can’t wait to cook my way through his other recipes.”
—Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce

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Par Wendi le 29 novembre 2009
Format: Relié
I'm an American living in France since 1983, in the beautiful seaside resort town of Biarritz.
I love to cook and recently have been concentrating on desserts. I was planning a 'girlfriend' trip up to Paris and came across 'The Sweet Life in Paris' just before my trip. David Lebovitz has really hit it on the head with his running commentary of what it's like to be an American living in France. Everything that he writes about the French I have experienced first hand. This stuff is too funny to make up! I was laughing out loud while turning the pages. I'm looking forward to trying his recipes that are scattered throughout the book. I took advantage of some of the insider's tips while in Paris and visited some of his favorite haunts like, G. Detou (pronounced j'ai de tous) to pick up ingredients (chocolate chips, pistachio flour) and also the fascinating shop, Le Vert d'Absinthe, at 11 rue d'Ormesson where I purchased some Duplais Absinthe to try his Absinthe Cake recipe on page 74. I'm sure I'll enjoy the recipes in the book but even if there weren't any recipes this book could easily stand alone just with the narrative on French life as seen through American eyes. This book would be a great gift to any expats you know living in France or anyone planning a trip to France.
Thanks David!
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David Lebovitz est bien connu non seulement pour ses talents culinaires, mais aussi pour ses indéniables qualités d'écriture, avec un regard fin et drôle porté avec acuité sur les sujets dont il parle.

Dans ce livre, David rassemble une partie des chroniques et recettes présentées sur son blog à succès, avec une bonne part d'inédits au niveau des textes. Les recettes ont également été entièrement retravaillées et réécrites pour cet ouvrage. Le livre est organisé en chapitres clos chacun par une ou deux recettes très détaillées, selon la présentation qu'il emploie déjà sur son blog.

David Lebovitz raconte ici son arrivée à Paris depuis San Francisco, ses déboires et découvertes, ses enchantements et ses déceptions, sur les grandes choses comme sur les petites. Il sait mettre en lumière nos travers d'un oeil amusé irrésistible, qui en apprendra certainement autant aux français qu'aux américains sur toutes ces petites bizarreries qui peuplent nos habitudes. Son style est plein de "wit" (d'humour caustique et acéré) mais bien souvent tendre (sauf envers son médecin et quelques autres il est vrai, et tant mieux, c'est hilarant :D). On ressent également dans sa façon de parler de la France un véritable amour pour ce pays, étrangeté comprise.

C'est en résumé un ouvrage délicieux à tous points de vue (le gâteau au chocolat de Thérèse est à tomber parmi tant d'autres délices sucrés et salés !
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Par Shanti le 14 décembre 2013
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Are you a foreigner in Paris? Do you love cooking? In that case, I strongly recommend this book. David Lebovitz describes his life in Paris with excellent franco- american recipes. I adore his sense of humor and I totally agree with him, as a foreigner living in Pairs, how difficult / wonderful it is to survive in the city of light. I also recommend his blog.
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Par carol le 13 septembre 2011
Format: Broché
Je recommande à tout étranger qui habite à Paris. Il y a quelques recettes dans le texte et beaucoup de sugéstions de lieus intéréssants pour les gourmands.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 456 commentaires
182 internautes sur 194 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deliciously Witty & Acerbic 10 mai 2009
Par Darby - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I absolutely adore David Lebovitz. I took a couple cooking classes from him several years ago and am a fan for life. His recipes are the absolute best plus he is smart and hilarious. So I had to have his book which shares incidents from his life since his move to Paris. It's a quick fun read that will ring true to anyone who's spent time there. David spares no one, from the French men in their religion revealing bathing suits to the American tourists in their fanny packs and plastic flip flops. David shares incidents which will have you laughing and glad you live in the U.S. yet earning for the unique charm and culinary delights of Paris. The book is filled with Parisian shopkeepers who would rather smoke outside or text their friends than sell you cheese that you are unworthy of; the mindless buracuracy needed to return an item that broke with its first use; and the endless strikes that usually start right outside his apartment. While David can be acerbic and slightly misanthropic, he's always endearing. Of course, the recipes look amazing and I can hardly wait to try them.
51 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Well worth a read for those interested in Paris, or Lebowitz 9 février 2012
Par Portland Book Baron - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I picked this up, as I expect most of those who have read it, because David Lebowitz's amazing dessert cookbooks. The picture of the marjolaine on the cover of Room for Dessert is enough for me to start reading anything.

This is Lebowitz's only non-cookbook and it's quite interesting. After the death of his partner, he decided to start his life anew and move to Paris. The majority of the book focuses on a menagerie of trials and tribulations that he has had over the last six years adapting to a new life, and new culture. I think at times, we all have fantasized about picking up and moving to another country. Lebowitz points out many things that we don't consider during these day dreams, like the difficulty of getting peanut butter or adapting to much smaller living spaces.

The book is only 304 pages, and many of those are recipes. Each chapter ranges from 3 to 10 pages, making it the perfect book to read on the beach, or a rainy weekend while fantasizing about being on a beach. It would be a horrible book to read while you are on a diet. Lebowitz is a consummate blogger, has experience as a pastry chef at Chez Panisse, and has written several cookbooks so he knows how to write about food in a way that makes you want to eat whatever he is talking about. His descriptions of the cheeses of France had me pricing plane tickets to Charles de Gaulle airport.

There were a few things I did not care for. The writing is not outstanding, and I felt like he focused on the difficulties of moving to Paris more than the wonderful things. I also wish that the recipes at the end of the chapter had been more relevant to the content of the chapter. I would strongly suggest reading this with a computer nearby so you can translate some of the French. There were several times where I understood the gist of what he was saying in context, but I really wanted to know what the actual words meant.

Overall, if you are interested in Paris, or just a fan of Lebowitz, this is worth a read. It is certainly not a large time commitment, and with lots of short chapters, there is bound to be a few anecdotes that you will enjoy. Note: My favorite was the one about his difficulties learning the language.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 This souffle fails to rise 30 août 2010
Par M. Feldman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Okay, let's get the subject of the many recipes that appear in "The Sweet Life in Paris" out of the way first. These recipes look great, although I haven't made any of them yet. David Lebovitz is a well-known pastry chef, and when he's talking about food he's on his own turf and his writer's voice is opinionated and sharp. No problem there. His list of chocolatiers and other shops is welcome, too.

It's the non-recipe part of the book I had a problem with. Here, Lebovitz could have really used a good editor, since his short vignettes about life in Paris read like a blog, not a book. What is good for one is not good for the other. Blog entries are short and often read by people new to the web site. It's okay, in other words, to start in the middle (if you're the reader) or repeat yourself (if you're the writer). In a book, however, the recurrence of observations (fanny-pack wearing loud Americans, pushy Parisians, haughty shop personnel, and so on) gets pretty old after a while, particularly since Lebovitz is hardly the first person to write about them. The placement of recipes is also odd; often they are just stuck in at the end of a section, for no particular reason that's evident. Oh for a Laurie Colwin, who built her food essays so beautifully around a particular recipe or two. And David Sedaris, when he writes about his life in France, is a whole lot funnier.

While the recipes may be first rate, there are better books about an American in Paris. There's Julia Child's great "My Life In France," of course, but for something more contemporary there's Adam Gopnik's "Paris to the Moon," which never repeats itself and which opens up aspects of French life that are just plain fascinating. Lebovitz recycles the obvious stuff; Gopnik takes you where you never thought to go in the first place. There are reasons why so many people (including me) love Paris, but "The Sweet Life in Paris" is more likely to make you reach for your whisk and bowls than to make you book a plane ticket.
M. Feldman
88 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Waou, bébé! 16 mai 2009
Par SuzieM13 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I could not wait for this book to arrive in the mail and it exceeded all my expectations. Not only is it hysterically written, it is chock full of recipes I can't wait to try. Written from an American's point of view who adores living in France (making a gutsy, change-of-life, crazy, impulsive decision to pull up stakes in the US and cross the pond in search of adventure) and who also hits the nail on the head about the idiosyncrasies of the French as well as the many unusual cultural differences. Recommended for foodies, especially those who've travelled in Paris or who want to travel there. A+++++ from someone who's been to Paris more than 50 times and who learned a ton of stuff from Daveed. :D
44 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not so sweet 17 décembre 2010
Par Henri IV - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I am also a Californian living in Paris, and I know some of the places the author describes. I also understand some of his experiences--it IS difficult to return things--this is not a client-oriented environment--and it IS difficult to get workmen for projects. Monoprix IS much better than Franprix. Inventory control IS appalling everywhere in France, even at Monoprix, and has turned me into a hoarder of light coconut milk, Thai curry paste, tahini, and maple syrup. But ordinarily I find the French exceedingly courteous and helpful. They are far more dependably polite than Americans, and this is one of the pleasures of being among them. And I love French coffee...absolutely love it...Italian espresso is too bitter. So I have points of disagreement with the author. This book is a very easy read, but I think in trying to be funny it gives a very superficial and not very pleasant description of Parisians and Paris.
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