One of the many benefits of my job is that I receive a lot of book deliveries from publishers that would like to put their new titles into the hands of people who might promote them. There are two main book release seasons each year – spring and fall – and I become giddy with excitement as we approach each, knowing that many of the newest titles will become available for my review. This isn’t to say that I don’t still buy books; I do, of course. Too many, in Rob’s opinion, but he pretends to understand my love for and need to acquire them.
Early last month, I was thrilled to receive David Lebovitz’s new book, My Paris Kitchen. Ten years ago, David, a professional cook and pastry chef, moved from San Francisco to France, arriving in the land of cheese and chocolate without a plan in place. My Paris Kitchen is a collection of his remastered recipes and spellbinding stories that tell the tale of his time spent cooking in the culinary capital of the world.
The pages are peppered with personal reflections that share a glimpse into what it’s like to shop, cook, and eat in Paris, and offer a real look at life around the table in France. While completely enchanted with many of the recipes tucked inside the book, I really loved reading about how the French entertain. With a glass of chilled rosé in hand, I made some notes on what I learned from his stories:
- When you are invited to a dinner party you are never supposed to arrive on time as it’s considered très impolite.
- L’heure de l’apéro refers to the time of day when you’re ready to relax with a drink and a nibble before sitting down to dinner.
- Pre-dinner cocktails can include white port or le whisky.
- Champagne is always appropriate.
- The people of Provence serve their rosé in big pitchers or carafes filled with ice.
- Entertaining at home in Paris is reserved for friends and family as invitations are limited to people you already know.
- If you’d like to mingle with someone you don’t know very well, cafés are neutral spaces to socialize.
- The cheese course is served at the end of the meal, before dessert, unlike in North America where we serve it at the beginning of dinner, usually with drinks.
- When assembling a cheese board, less is more. The offerings are kept to one or two varieties and the focus is on quality not quantity.
Good news! Random House of Canada has kindly offered a free copy of My Paris Kitchen to a commenter chosen at random. Contest ends Friday May 9th at 5PM, and winners must live in Canada. Good luck!