The Accidental Locavore has long been a fan of David Lebowitz. If you’re not familiar with him, David is an American chef and food writer living in Paris. His blog is a great source of info on food, restaurants and the day-to-day quirkiness of living in Paris (and points beyond). Up until this point, the books have dealt mostly with his specialty – pastry and baking. And even though I’m not any kind of baker, I’ve bought his books just for the writing. So I was thrilled to learn that his latest book, My Paris Kitchen, was going to be more of a “real” cookbook and even more excited to get an advance copy to peruse.
Even reading it on my iPad (not my favorite way to look at cookbooks), it was easy to see that in print this was going to be a beautiful book with great photos. The only downside? It’s going to make you want to drop the book and get yourself on the next flight to Paris! And even though I don’t read cookbooks very thoroughly, I began at the beginning with My Paris Kitchen and actually read through the first few chapters – which was kind of a revelation, because David really explains his methodology and the rationale behind the recipes. Now did I remember any of it when I went to make one of the chicken recipes? Not at all, but the dish turned out great!
Of course, there’s the usual must-haves for gear and pantry, but what makes David’s approach so informative, are his comparisons between what he thought would be easy to find in Paris (and wasn’t) and what the French take for granted vs. what we take for granted; as you might expect, for the most part we come up lacking. As he says, “It’s easy to make good food with good ingredients, because most of the work is done for you.”
The introduction to many of the sections and some of the recipes will seem familiar to followers of the blog. You may or may not remember the chase for cheese in the Jura, when the car skidded off the road, but it’s certainly well worth re-reading. The book is traditionally organized by courses, with a pantry section at the end, to give you David’s take on the basics.
I guess the good news/bad news part about reading this on an iPad is that you can’t dog-ear the pages with the recipes you want to try, so when my real copy arrives (thank you Julie!), I’m going for the Chicken Lady Chicken (which has a great hint for making a paste of garlic and salt!), as well as the Salted Olive Crisps, the Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Garlic, and so much more. This is definitely going to be one of my go-to cookbooks!