After moving to Paris in 2004, David Lebovitz experienced everything that any foreigner living in Paris would expect to encounter: different lifestyles, different norms and different food. In his book, The Sweet Life in Paris, Lebovitz recounts events that shaped him as an American living in Paris, accompanied by recipes.
Although it was released last year, the book is something to read any time of the year. You'll be entrapped in the stories he tells of his first impressions of Paris and how he dealt with uncomfortable situations, and you'll bookmark all of his recipes at the end of each chapter...even without pictures, they are enticing.
The story begins with Lebovitz explaining the reason he moves to Paris: rejuvenation. Don't we all wish we could make decisions like this?
Upon his arrival in Paris, Lebovitz describes his teeny, tiny apartment, where his aspirations of baking and cooking nonstop would be difficult to achieve. Limited counter space does not bode well for his goals to constantly create new recipes for ice cream, cakes and other desserts (Lebovitz's specialty).
Each chapter shares a different story or experience Lebovitz had during his first years in Paris. He sheds light on the many aspects of Parisian life: employment, health care and society high-life -- but everything always comes back to food, whether he's describing a recipe that he made or enjoyed during that event or he is specifically talking about a certain dish.
I guarantee you will laugh your way through chapters like "What They Say Versus What They Mean" and "Lines Are For Other People," describing the mannerisms and lifestyle of Parisians.
I found myself bookmarking recipe after recipe. I love how Lebovitz makes each seem simple enough for anyone to make, even though most aren't everyday recipes. His helpful hints and to-the-point writing style make it seem easy.
Here is one of my favorite recipes from the book:
Spiced Nut Mix (Mélange de Noix Épicées)
Makes 4 cups (400 g)
- 2 cups (275 g) raw nuts -- any combination of pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews and hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) salted or unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chile powder or smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 cups (100 g) small pretzel twists
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chile powder, maple syrup and cocoa.
- Stir the warm nuts into the spice mixture to coat them completely, then sprinkle on the salt.
- Mix in the pretzels, then spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are well glazed and browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cool, break up the clusters and serve.
Storage: The nuts can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to five days.