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The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City Hardcover – May 5, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 455 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of the fifth book from Lebovitz, celebrated pastry chef and Chez Panisse alum, is a bit of a misnomer: this feisty memoir-with-recipes is just as tart as it is sweet. Writing with the same cheeky tone that has made his blog one of the most popular food sites on the Internet, Lebovitz presents an eclectic collection of vignettes illustrating his experiences living as an expatriate in Paris. After reading accounts of perpetually out-of-service public toilets and hospitals that require patients to BYOB (bring your own bandages), one begins to question what, exactly, Lebovitz finds so intoxicating about the City of Lights. It certainly isn't something in the water, but it just might be in le chocolat chaud. With this book, for the first time Lebovitz expands beyond his standard repertoire of desserts and includes a smattering of savory recipes. These range from such classic French dishes as a warm goat cheese salad to nostalgic American favorites like oven-roasted pork ribs with ketchup marinade. This is not to say Lebovitz's legions of sweet-toothed fans will be disappointed—many of the 50 recipes are made with plenty of butter and sugar; a flawless rendition of dulce de leche brownies is sure to become the home baker's equivalent of that très chic little black dress, returned to again and again. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

American baker Lebovitz, alumnus of California’s famed Chez Panisse, moved to Paris following his partner’s untimely death. There he found a culture whose rituals and courtesies mystified him. It took him a while to get used to personally greeting every clerk and shopkeeper, to consuming every morsel of food using both fork and knife, and to coping with an uncommonly wily bureaucracy fond of enforcing self-contradictory regulations. He discovered the social necessity of pressing every wrinkle out of his clothes, even from his jeans and his towels. Recipes dominate the text, many of them Lebovitz’s signature chocolate dessert creations. Some of these pastries display their Parisian provenance, an absinthe cake in particular standing out. But he also includes popular Mexican mole and crispy pork carnitas, about as exotic to most Parisians as one could imagine. An annotated list of food and equipment sources brims with good information. --Mark Knoblauch

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767928881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767928885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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
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