Food and Wine,  Paris,  Uncategorized

Weekend Cooking: The Sweet Life in Paris

The Sweet Life in Paris
by David Lebovitz
Published by Broadway Books
copyright 2009
rating:  5 out of 5 stars

I went the to the bookstore the other night with absolutely no intention of buying.  The last thing I need is to bring another book into this house when I have literally shelves of books unread.  But in browsing the front tables I was initially drawn to the title of this book because…well….my mind is rather preoccupied with this topic lately.  I briefly skimmed the book and decided that it would be a good “research” book for my upcoming trip (I can rationalize just about anything under the guise of “research”)

Anyway, I came home, started reading, and have not been able to put it down and while it has provided me with useful information prior to my adventure, I also know that I will re-read this book when I return with the hopes of recreating the taste of Paris by trying a few of the authentic French recipes.

Each chapter is divided into two separate parts:  one discusses some aspect of the Parisian culture that an American living there might find useful, such as….Parisians use a knife and fork to eat just about EVERYTHING and they rarely use their fingers (even when eating a banana).  Parisian shop owners would like to be treated with a bit of respect – a simple Bonjour Madame upon entering the store and an Au Revoir Monsieur upon leaving is just common courtesy as far as they are concerned.  And when ordering in a cafe, never order cafe au lait (apparently that is only served in the home – never in public) but rather order a cafe creme.

Not only did I find each chapter filled with practical advice, but I adored the author’s sense of humor and his unique way of observing life (you can also visit his blog, David Lebovitz for further Parisian reviews).  It makes for a very pleasant read and even if you have no plans to live in Paris yourself, you may enjoy this literary escape to the culinary capital of the world.  For those participating in the Paris in July challenge, I think this would be an excellent choice.

There are numerous recipes that I wish to try when I return – many are dessert-type recipes such as Chocolate Macaroons, Dulce de Leche Brownies, and Salted Butter Caramel Sauce — but there are also several savory dishes that have piqued my interest such as Tomato and Sourdough Bread Salad, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, and Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake.  Perhaps in the fall I can review a few of these for future segments of Weekend Cooking.

Until that time…..Bon Appetit!


  • TheBookGirl

    I want to read this book just from the few factoids you included in your review: a knife and fork for a banana? And no cafe au lait in public?

    I will look forward to posts on your experience with the recipes 🙂

  • Margot

    "Research" always works as an excuse for me too. I'm very hopeful that pictures of some of the food you eat in Paris will be shared with us when you return. I'm excited for you Molly. This will be a wonderful experience.

  • Joy Weese Moll

    This sounds very practical and a fun book for dreaming about (er, researching) a trip. Thanks for the link to the Paris in July challenge. I didn't know about that and I'm looking forward to exploring.

  • Carola Bartz

    Ha Molly, I had to love out loud when I read your review. Yes, we weird Germans use fork and knife as well, although we still eat bananas like the monkeys (with our hands). I remember being pretty appalled in the beginning that even in restaurants people here eat with their fingers. By now I do it myself… oh my table manners are going down the drain. And the greeting when you enter and leaving a store just goes without question – same in Germany, probably all over Europe. I actually like this little sign of courtesy.

  • Carola Bartz

    Oh, I was rather surprised about the cafe au lait statement – never happened to me. Anymay, I put that book on my list, will look at the library for it. It sounds like a really good read.
    It sure was a "sign" that you found it right now…

  • Ellie

    Sounds like an interesting book. I think with any city that gets a lot of tourists, the locals get a bit fed up with them. I'm sure no one would take offense to you eating fruit with your hands (I bet they don't cut up bananas in the privacy of their own homes).

    Some of those recipes sound delicious but I'm not sure about bacon and blue cheese cake. Bleurgh!

  • Beth F

    But of course you needed to have the book for research! It sounds so interesting though — and Lebovitz is a great writer. Who knew you were to eat your banana with a knife and fork?

  • Louise

    I love Paris too, and have been doing quite a few Paris in July activities. How fantastic to be looking forward to a trip! I've been reading David Lebovitz's blog for a while now, but haven't read any of his books. This is the one that I'm eyeing off first. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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