The other Parisian expat chef

The other Parisian expat chef

31 days of cult classics | Modern Mrs Darcy

I’ve always had a dreamy, earnest impression of Paris the City, which I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting once–and that was in high school.

But food writer and Chez Panisse veteran David Lebovitz fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2002 by moving from San Francisco to Paris, and after a few years in the country, his impressions of the city were radically different from my idealized, touristy version.

The Sweet Life in Paris, David Lebovitz. 31 Days of Cult Classics | Modern Mrs Darcy

Lebovitz has written a fair number of cult pastry cookbooks, but his fifth book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious–and Perplexing–City, takes the cake. This food/travel/memoir/guidebook chronicles the ups and downs of his move to Paris. The “ups” are inspiring (think butter, chocolate, croissants) but the downs are even better. At least for the reader.

Lebovitz’s anecdotes about Parisians’ baffling quirks are completely surprising and laugh-out-loud funny (though I can’t say I’d recommend his brand of humor to, say, my grandmother).

(His recipes are excellent. I don’t bake sweets much anymore (le sigh), but I’ve never been disappointed in a Lebovitz recipe.)

To get even cult-ier (that’s not a real word, but you get what I mean), check out Lebovitz’s Paris Pastry Guide. More tourist guidebook than browsing material, I’d save this for when you actually have a trip to France on the calendar.

Talk to me about David Lebovitz and Parisian adventures, OR hit us with your favorite cult classic cookbook in comments. 

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This is the twenty-eighth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.


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  1. Codi says:

    I’ve always had a hard time reading “food books” or cook books, other than for the recipes. Could you recommend one or two that read more like a novel than a memoir, but are truly and genuinely about food and cooking?

  2. Jillian Kay says:

    We’re planning a big trip overseas in 2017, and the big issue on my mind right now is London & Paris or London & Ireland. These is a very good problem to have. I’ll add these books to my research.

  3. Breanne says:

    I loved The Sweet Life. It brought a good (realistic?) balance to some of the other Paris books I’ve read and it also made me want to visit. I love his recipes and if I were planning a trip to Paris, I’d definitely read his book again. =)

    On Rue Tatin and Paris, My Sweet are two other books that I love about France/Paris and food. =)

  4. Leigh Kramer says:

    The Sweet Life is the only Lebovitz I’ve read. I forgot I meant to read the others! I’m such a fan of food memoir and food-related books. I echo the recommendation of Erica Bauermeister’s novels. SO GOOD. Memoir-wise, Blood, Bones, & Butter, A Homemade Life, and Tender at the Bone are among my favorites. As for cookbooks, Homemade With Love is my current crush and I have plans to get Smitten Kitchen as soon as possible.

    • Laurel says:

      Yes, do get Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook. I’m currently working my way through all the recipes I’ve bookmarked there. Her meatballs with brown butter potatoes are AMAZING!

      • Leigh Kramer says:

        Start with her first novel: School of Essential Ingredients. Then read her third novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, which is the sequel. Her second book Joy for Beginners is a stand-alone and worth reading but I loved the other two way more.

  5. Laurel says:

    Purchased his ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop, right before summer started….then our freezer broke. 🙁 I love reading his blog. Helps me vicariously live out some of my Parisian day dreams. 🙂 A somewhat defunct food blogger myself, I love reading about people’s lives, particularly as it involves food. Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, is fantastic (as is her blog) and Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt is working on a book about dating her husband and the recipes they’ve used which I’m really looking forward to.

    • Anne says:

      I love A Homemade Life, but I’ve never heard of Not Without Salt. I need to check it out because we clearly have similar taste. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation!

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