I love David Lebovitz's writing. And David Lebovitz loves Paris. And after reading his latest cookbook I'm in love with his Paris too.
The reason I again fell in love with the city David loves is because his latest cookbook, My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories reads like a memoir with recipes.
David moved to Paris from the United States ten years ago. In this time, he's collected stories and recipes from his adopted city. Since moving to Paris, he's blogged about the experience. In fact, I think of David as one of the original food bloggers. Like on his blog, David shares experiences and observations in essays and in long introductions for each recipe throughout My Paris Kitchen. The book reads as if a trusted friend was telling you about his life. David shares the nuances of living—and eating—in France, like the French don't eat eggs for breakfast. Sure, they might drink wine and smoke cigarettes but eggs for breakfast? Non!
But he does more than share good stories; he shares good recipes, giving us an intimate taste of his city.
It would be easy to imagine David, the author of several bestselling cookbooks and former pastry chef at the storied Chez Panisse, always enjoyed a big, gourmet kitchen. Not true! He tells us that for a long time, he created recipes in a kitchen space no larger than a chessboard. David's experience cooking in a cramped space comes through. While some of the recipes are multistep affairs—things I'd suggest preparing on the weekend, not on a busy Tuesday night—none of them are over-the-top difficult, nor do they require a bunch of specialty equipment. Of course, you could order until your heart's content from E. Dehillerin. But you'd only do that because you want to, not because David requires that you do so.
The book is divided into six parts: appetizers, first courses, main courses, sides, desserts, and pantry. In each chapter, the recipes are enticing and wide-ranging, from the simple, like hummus, to the more complex , like a lamb shank tagine. This is David's first cookbook not totally devoted to sweets. However, David's pastry writing background comes through. All the recipe steps are detailed, ensuring our success in the kitchen.
Since this is a gluten-free website, you're probably wondering how many recipes are gluten-free. Good question! I don't have a specific count but many of the recipes are naturally gluten-free. And a good many more can be easily adapted, simply swap ingredients like soy sauce for their gluten-free counterpart. That said, there are a few recipes that aren't easily adapted, like an amazing sounding chocolate chip, hazelnut, and dried sour cherry fougasse. (A fougasse is tricky to convert to gluten-free. When made with wheat flour, it's simply flour, water, yeast, and salt.)
But if you skip this book because it's not totally gluten-free, you're missing an extraordinary cookbook. The essays and photos make this a wonderful book to read, even if you never cook from it. But you'll want to cook from it. Trust me. It's one of those books that you just want to snuggle down and read while the world fades around you.
Since receiving the book (see note below), I've made a two recipes. First up, the potato, feta, and basil tortilla. Usually when someone's talking about a tortilla, they mean something with corn. Not in this case. David's tortilla is a Spanish omelet. In addition to the headline ingredients, David includes piment d'Espelette, a sweet-spicy chili powder. The idea for the addition of piment d'Espelette comes from Gerald Hirigoyen, author of The Basque Kitchen.
And this is what you'll find throughout My Paris Kitchen, good ideas from David, his friends, his former colleagues, and Paris herself.
The tortilla was amazing. It managed to be light and hearty at the same time. If you get the book, start with it.
I also made the buttermilk ice cream with olive oil and fleur de sel. It.was.fabulous.
My list of “what I want to make” is long. Which, I suspect is a problem lots of readers will have with this cookbook because, frankly, everything looks amazing.
If you look good writing and good food, add My Paris Kitchen to your library. With it in hand, you can visit David's Paris anytime you want.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the "Blogging for Books" program in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. A positive review was NOT required from the publisher. Affiliate links to Amazon.com are included in this review. If you click on 'em, I earn a few pennies. Really. Pennies.