The Kitchen Reader: The Sweet Life by David Lebovitz

August 31, 2009

This month’s reading selection for The Kitchen Reader is The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz.

I didn’t know a whole lot about David Lebovitz before reading this book. I knew that he worked at Chez Panisse, that he now lives in Paris, and that he’s written several dessert cookbooks. After reading the book, I found out why he moved to Paris and I “got to know” him. And I’m glad I did, because he’s a very funny guy and he showed me a side of Paris that I haven’t seen, and probably never will. Yes, he pokes fun at the way of life in Paris, but not in a rude way. The book is a journey through his adjustment to living in Paris, it’s full of humor and, of course, recipes.

The book is set up with a chapter on a topic followed by some recipes that are loosely tied into that topic. I felt like he was giving us recipes that he really wanted to share; not trying to pick out recipes that would be a perfect fit for the chapter. He covers food-related topics, such as the kitchen in his apartment, grocery shopping in Paris, and drinking coffee in Paris (which includes a section on how to order coffee to get what you want: I’ve battled with this myself, so if I ever get back to Paris, I’ll bring his cheat sheet!). Living in Paris isn’t all about the food, so he discusses dressing like a Parisian, French healthcare, and lots of information on shopping, from how to stand in line (or how to not stand in line), his trials and tribulations at BHV, the main department store/hardware store, and how Parisian salespeople are different than American salespeople.

The book is sprinkled with his humorous battles with the French language and Lebovitz laughing at himself for the predicaments he’s gotten himself into. My favorite was when he was told to go into a changing room and take off everything but his underwear; however he thought he was told to take everything off including his underwear! Thankfully, that’s not a situation most of us would get into on a vacation in Paris.

It’s worth getting to know David Lebovitz a little better, and there are so many ways you can do it: read this book, look at his website, follow him on Facebook (he posts lots of interesting food-related links as well as some funny links and updates). In the book, he makes it clear that’s he’s not real keen on having friends of friends of friends show up in Paris and expect to be shown around. His solution for that? He leads culinary tours in France and Paris! Sounds cool, but if that’s not in the plans for you, he provides a long list of his favorite addresses in the back of the book: restaurants, chocolate shops, bakeries, baking supplies, and yes, even orthopedic hosiery (you have to read the book to understand that one)!

Recipes I’d like to try that may show up on this blog someday:

  • Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
  • Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
  • Chicken Mole
  • Peanut Slaw
  • Caramelized Apple Tart (low-fat)

Note to Kitchen Readers: I’m offline right now, so it may be a while before I get to your blogs. I apologize for the delay, but I will visit you when I can!


  1. This book was WONDERFUL!!!! I really didn’t know who David was until I started blogging, and I feel that this book really helped explain who he is and what he’s all about.

    That predicament with the underwear WAS the funniest thing that happened in the book!

    You wrote such a wonderful review…and I’m so glad that you enjoyed the book and that you’re part of the group!!!!!

  2. Hi Jill, I could only imagine how mortified both David and the woman in the underwear story were – and what were the two bits of paper for if not for preserving modesty?? Hmmmm… I really enjoyed this book too, and have bookmarked a number of the recipes.

  3. I just bought this book and am looking forward to trying the recipes! Having made a couple of his ice creams – I am thinking they will be very good and a lot of fun!

  4. David’s salted caramel sauce is amazing! Try it

  5. It was a great read. Witty and entertaining. And the recipes!!! Will definitely read this one again.

    We don’t realize how different these different countries are until someone else writes about actually living there.

  6. I think it’s great that David can laugh at himself, and even write about his experiences for others to read! It sounds as though you need a pretty good sense of humor to be an American living in Paris.

    I want to try more of the recipes, too. Especially the caramel sauce!

  7. This is on my list of library books to get and I’m looking forward to it. Definitely try Salted Butter Caramel Sauce!! You will NOT be sorry!

  8. I like his style of humor, it gives a nice pace to the reading and a light hearted feel. This is good because it helps me remember his points much better!

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