After working for nearly 20 years as a pastry chef for Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse & cookbook author, David Lebovitz decided it time to hang up his apron in the US and head off to the culinary capital of the world, Paris.
In regards to expats in Paris memoirs, this one was not one of my favorites. I found Lebovitz’ tone to be snobby many times throughout the book. I don’t think he could have left the US fast enough, his disdain for this country growing each day he spent in Paris. Luckily, the chapters were short and more than half of each chapter is devoted to various recipes concocted by Lebovitz. Although I did appreciate and enjoy the chapter about his experiences at the grocery store. The visual of him swinging his cart around as a moat against line-cutters was hilarious.
Maybe I’ve read too many memoirs of lives in Paris, but there wasn’t much in this book made it different from other memoirs. It seems like anybody who goes to France ends up with the same frustrations of: dog poop, rude vendors, yummy food, an insane bureaucratic infrastructure, crazy bus drivers, and a much easier medical procedure/insurance system than the US.
The recipes are really the saving grace. The recipes range from desserts, to meals and snacks. There are even a few pages at the end of the book devoted to US sources of French foodstuff as well as a lengthy list of notable restaurants and chocolatiers in Paris. Each entry includes the relevant contact information along with a sentence summarizing the contents of the location. A nifty guide to have on hand when wandering the streets of Paris. It’s hard to figure out where to start food-wise in that city, so any starter point is always a necessity.
A funny bit of trivia. The building on the back cover of this book is the same building on the front cover of French Milk.