Cooking-mad daughter Caitlin, the chef in wellies, introduced me to the wonderful recipes of American-born chef David Lebovitz when she made his French tomato flan for my birthday last year. (See the blog post at http://www.bloginfrance.com/2010/august-celebrations/.) It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. So for Christmas I got Caiti a copy of his The Sweet Life in Paris, which is a combination of scenes from Lebovitz’s life in Paris and his awesome recipes.
Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. Now, I’m not a foodie at all, but I was sucked in by this book. It consists of 29 chapters, each one being a short essay/longish anecdote about some aspect of living in France, followed by several mouthwatering recipes. Lebovitz has a lovely style of writing – humorous, interesting and very readable. He has a sharp eye and is a great commentator on Parisien life. He’s a very honest writer – he admits to cutting queues, eying up handsome waiters and eating too much chocolate! But while Parisien life drives him to distraction at times, he never rants, just tells it like it is and respects the culture that he’s willingly plunged himself into.
The only disappointing thing about the book is the photograpy. The edition I have, a hardback by Broadway Books (2009), has rather low quality black and white photos which lets the side down. Recipe books need colour photos in my opinion. And oddly the author agrees. In one chapter, My clé to success, Lebovitz talks about how the expensive colour photos he had to pay for himself for one of his earlier recipe books were well worth the money. It’s a pity the publishers of this book didn’t have the same idea. However, I believe there is now a paperback version – I hope it has colour photos. You can also get a Kindle version of the book (that will be black and white photos only though).
So what are the recipes like? They range from drinks – kir and hot chocolate, to nibbles – spiced nut mix and pitta toast, to savoury courses (not many) – braised turkey in Beaujolais nouveau with prunes and warm goat cheese salad, to the forte of this book, the fantastic puddings such as cinnamon meringue with espresso-caramel ice-cream, chocolate sauce and candied almonds and plum and raspberry clafoutis. There are a lot of chocolatey recipes – what a book!
One critic has said that David Lebovitz is the best thing to happen to dessert since the spoon, which I have to agree with!
Follow David’s blog at www.davidlebovitz.com for daily snippets about his Paris life.
There’s a Kindle version of this book $11.06, plus a new paperback version from all the usual suspects priced from €6.87.