Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood. But he soon discovered it's a different world en France.
From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men's footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David's story of how he came to fall in love with - and even understand - this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.
When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai Parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men's dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that, in Paris, appearances and image mean everything.
The more than 50 original recipes, for dishes both savory and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar-Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have listeners running to the kitchen once they stop laughing. The Sweet Life in Paris is a deliciously funny, offbeat, and irreverent look at the city of lights, cheese, chocolate, and other confections.
©2009 David Lebovitz (P)2012 Tantor
"David Lebovitz is the greatest thing to happen to dessert since the spoon, but this time he shows that beyond his artful nose and flawless taste, he also has a keen reporter's eye." (Mort Rosenblum, author of The Secret Life of the Seine)
I have only listened to part of the book, which I purchased on impulse without listening to the sample. The narrator's voice would be more suited to scientific or other scholarly content. His voice is reminiscent of a narrator from an educational program.
This book really could have used someone who had a more mellow and relaxed style, and who could pronounce French correctly. I'm feeling conflicted -- I am really interested in the content, but I'm not sure I can get through the rest of it.
From now on I will always, always listen to the sample before purchasing.
So funny. David Liebowitz is an American pastry chef living an enviable life in San Francisco who for unexplained reasons decides to uproot himself and live for a while in Paris. In telling his story, Liebowitz uses his wicked sense of humor to paint a hilarious portrait of Parisians--their foibles, their social expectations and their magnificence--as he chronicles his own faux pas in learning how live among them.
The book is written in first person, i.e., from the mouth of the author, and the narration enhances the sense of listening to Liebowitz himself. The narrator understands the writer's humor and is able to give his words the correct emphasis, just as I imagine Liebowitz would say them.
The book made me laugh a lot and the miles sped by on a lengthy car trip. It also made me want to go back to Paris. One of the funniest stories concerns the serving of cheese at a dinner party and the cultural insensitivity of an American guest. The story is so funny that it's hard to believe that Liebowitz does not exaggerate the particulars, but with such detailed observation that his point seems founded in truth.
Although Liebowitz complains a lot about the hardships of being an American living in Paris, any reader can see that he truly loves the city and its people. After all, he chose it, complete with inconveniences, and he stayed.
I have to say I was really disappointed with this book. A friend recommended I read it because I am going to Paris next month and I am also a food lover. After listening to this book I wish I could cancel my trip. David doesn't say anything positive about Parisians at all, just how dirty and rude they are. I truly do not understand why he continues to live there if there is so much to complain about.
If you are planning a trip to France, skip this book.
It would have been better if the guy wasn't so self absorbed.
The whole thing.
It was fine.
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