The Sweet Life

I finished reading The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz last weekend. It’s a comical narrative of life in Paris from an American’s perspective. I caught myself laughing out loud at some of his stories. At the end of each chapter or story David includes a recipe (or two or three). There’s one for chocolate macaroons, cheese souffle, absinthe cake, crepes, chocolate-coconut marshmallows and many more.

On marshmallows: “In France, you’ll find marshmallows sold in long ropelike strands, not just in pastry shops, but in some pharmacies as well. The extract of the mallow plant is considered a remedy for respiratory disorders…”

On drinking water: “It can be tricky to order water in France, since there’s a panopoly of options. . . . Before ordering, you need to decide whether you want a bottle, or eau du robinet from the tap. If bottled is your choice, do you want still or sparkling? San Pellegrino or Perrier? Châteldon or Salvetat? Badoit or Evian? If Badoit, do you want verte or hyper-bubbly rouge? There’s also Volvic, Vichy, and Vittel. But wait, you’re not done yet! Demie or grande?”

On the dinner knife: “Once you’ve picked up the knife at a French dinner table, don’t even think of putting it down until you’re done eating.

On attire: “So sneakers are okay, shorts are sometimes okay, but never wear both in combination with a fanny pack. And, mon Dieu, don’t even think of adding an oversized water bottle.

One evening having spent quite a bit of time reading David’s stories about the foods and desserts of Paris, I too, craved a little something-something to accompany my cup of tea. I got off the sofa and took inventory of my pantry.

  • flour
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • butter
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • milk
  • almond extract

I would adapt my basic yellow cake recipe to make an Almond Cake (simply by substituting vanilla with almond extract). As it turned out the cake was moist with a nice crumb and soft sweetness which I topped with a drizzle of honey and added sliced peaches on the side.

I enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning with a dollop of strawberry jam and fig jam, also with fruit on the side.

The cake is not Parisian, but it satisfied my craving and I happily finished reading the rest David’s book.

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