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The Sweet Life in Paris
Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City
By David Lebovitz
ISBN: 0767928881
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication date: May 2009
Format: Hardcover
List price: $24.95 
Type: Memoir; Ethnic: France
Sample recipe: Crępes au Chocolat, Deux Fois (Double-Chocolate Crępes)
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: 50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: How many of us have thought of transporting our lives and careers to Paris and living to tell about it? American pastry chef (now writer) David Lebovitz has done just that, and chronicles more than half-a-dozen years of Parisian adventures with wit and charm. His tiny apartment, his battles with bureaucracy, language challenges, clothing challenges, access to the world's great foods, and daily interactions with the people of Paris make you wonder both how he has managed to hold out for so long and why you aren't living in his shoes.

The 50 included recipes are not the point of the book, but they are exceptionally well written. Would that every (most/many/some) cookbook recipes were as well described! Having said that, the recipes must be considered a mish-mash. You might expect all dessert recipes in a pastry chef's book (and most are). You might expect all French recipes in a book about Paris. Or you might expect all American recipes in a book by an American. But you find Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Peanut Slaw, Pork Ribs, Venetian-Style Sardines with Onions and Raisins, and others that are at least unexpected, along with, admittedly, a lot of recipes that prominently feature chocolate.

Interestingly and ironically, there are about 918 references to his brownies Americain, and how many squeaky wheels (recalcitrant Frenchmen and women) he has greased with them – and then right at the end of the book his recipe turns out to be not at all classic American brownies. They are Dulce de Leche Brownies, made with the caramelized sweetened milk or confiture de lait – milk jam. They may be delicious, but they cannot be called American – even if brownies are only American!


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