When I was in Brooklyn a few months back doing a booksigning with the lovely folks from The Brooklyn Kitchen, a friendly woman came up to me bearing a box of treats from her bakery. I don’t like to eat in front of people, because, frankly, no one wants to meet up with an author while he is shoving pastries in his mouth. And in this day and age of people wanting pictures, I’ve learned that absolutely no one looks good when they’ve got a mouth full of food. And I have a hunch that there are a bunch of photos tagged with my name on them, around the internet, that will prove that.
Results tagged recipe from David Lebovitz
I’ve had a lot of visitors this season and everyone, of course, wanted me to pick a restaurant where to meet up. It was great to see so many long-lost friends, but since it was two meals a day for a couple of weeks, my “idea list” began to run dry. And while I have a bunch of places that I personally want to try, most visitors don’t want to “try out a new place” (and for some reason, no one wants to go out for pizza…), so rather than risk a so-so meal, they wanted me to pick something tried-and-true. Which I suppose is fair enough.
But after a while, I was tapped out. It got to the point where I had lunch one day at one place, then returned to their partner restaurant across the street for dinner a few hours later that same night. And I also learned that there’s only so much restaurant food you can eat. I used to wonder why food critics complained about their jobs, having to eat all the time. Yet by the end of my guest stints, I was starting to wave the white flag of surrender myself.
I did have a little break and went to a French friend’s home for lunch one day, and knowing both of us were pretty busy, and eating a little too much lately, we left the decision to whatever we felt that we’d be in the mood for that day. Then that day arrived, and neither of us could decide. At her suggestion, and in deference to our waistlines, and our pocketbooks (or in my case, my wallet), she invited me over for soup.
It’s easy to forget about Thanksgiving in Paris. There are no bags of stuffing mix clogging the aisles in the supermarkets. If you asked a clerk where is the canned pumpkin, they would look at you like you were fou (crazy). And if you open the newspaper, you won’t come across any sales on whole turkeys. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; a friend saw a 5 kilo turkey, an 11 pound bird, at the market the other day for €68kg, or €340 ($424).
(Although I think if you spent over four hundred dollars on a turkey, you wouldn’t forget it for a long, long time.)
I suggested that the turkey vendor perhaps forgot a comma because whole turkeys are, indeed, available in Paris, and they actually excellent since most are fermier, not the plump whoppers you see in the states. The only thing you have to be careful about is that one turkey might not be enough if you’re feeding a large crowd, say, a group of over six people. Savvy Americans know to order a whole turkey in advance from their butcher and – get this: You can ask them to cook it for you. Yes, since the butchers usually have spits with roasting chickens on them, it’s usually not a problem for them to slide a turkey on there. That’s especially nice because most people in Paris just have one oven and it’s hard to tie it up for the entire day with just a bird roasting in it when you’ve got so many other things to bake and cook off.
The other day, while minding my business, taking a casual stroll about town, I suddenly realized that I’d written “Bonne anniversaire,” or “Happy Birthday,” in French, here on the site. It’s an honest mistake because the happy (or bon, er, I mean, bonne) expression is pronounced bonneanniversaire, rather than bon (with a hard “n”) anniversaire, because, as the French would say, it’s “plus jolie,” or simply, “more beautiful.”
(And I’m pretty sure I got that jolie right. Since it refers to l’expression, which is feminine, it’s jolie, rather than, joli. Although both are pronounced exactly the same. And people think I spend all day making up recipes…)
I raced back home as fast as my feet could take me, shoving pedestrians aside and knocking over a few old ladies in my path, to correct it to “Bon anniversaire.” Then afterward, after I caught my breath, I did a search on some French grammar sites on the Internet and landed on one forum with four intricate pages of heated discussions on whether it was actually masculine (bon) or feminine (bonne). Everyone (well, being France, most people…) agreed that it was masculine – although curiously, it’s pronounced as bonne, the feminine, when wishing someone, or anyone, a “Happy Birthday.”
Just like you would never write, or say, ma amie (feminine) – even if “my” friend was a girl or woman, because it would sound like ma’amie, which reads like Finnish, and if spoken (go ahead, try it) sounds like bleating sheep. So it’s always mon ami, and mon amie, a gender-bending (and for us learning the language, a mind-boggling) minefield of a mix of masculine and feminine pronouns.
Another thing that confuses people is salade, which is what lettuce is generally referred to in French, when talking about the genre of lettuces. If it is a specific kind of lettuce – batavia, rougette, romaine, l’iceberg, etc, it’s often referred to by type. Yet the word salade is also used to refer to composed salads, like salade niçoise, salade de chèvre chaud, and salade parisienne. Hence non-French speakers are often confused when they order a sandwich with salade and find a few dinky leaves of lettuce on their plate, not the big mound of nicely dressed greens that they were hoping for.
Whew! After those first three paragraphs, I think you’ll understand why French is a tricky language to master, and even the French are at odds with how to say and write what. No wonder everybody smokes. #stress In fact, I think I also need to step outside myself after writing all of that.
When I moved to France, I was surprised that lamb shanks were somewhat hard to find. Many butchers sold all sorts of cuts of lamb, including lamb shoulders, ribs, and cutlets, but shanks proved elusive. Then I learned that you had to ask for them; for some reason, they’re always kept in the back. I’m not sure why, since it’s my favorite cut of lamb and it deserves to be out in the open. Souris d’agneau (lamb shanks) don’t require a lot of work. They rely on time, which turns a tough cut of meat into something soft and succulent. And with shanks, each person gets their own portion, which makes a nice presentation.
Last spring when I was on book tour in Houston, Joshua Weissman stopped by to say hi. At the ripe age of seventeen, Joshua runs a blog called Slim Palate. Joshua had been a hefty kid and decided to do something about it. So he challenged the way he ate, began eating healthy foods, and cooking for himself, which is the best way to eat well. By doing so, he lost a whopping hundred pounds on a Paleo diet. It was such a success, that kids who’d previously teased him about his weight at school started asking him for advice. So yes, it’s true: eating well is the best revenge!
I had a phone interview the other day, and the journalist was so nice and interesting that we ended up talking about a whole bunch of other subjects that we didn’t intend to talk about. Like a good interviewer, she didn’t start off by asking the usual questions, but came up with some original ones, which was a lot more interesting than being asked for the name my favorite bistro (I have a whole list here) or who makes the best macarons in Paris, which are now available around the world. One particular subject that we talked about extensively was blogging. The interviewer asked me how long it takes to write a post.
While massaging my wrists, I thought about it for a moment and while contemplating my dwindling vision as I removed my glasses, I replied, “After writing, editing, proofreading, translating terms, adding foreign accents (sometimes by hand-coding each one), writing the recipe (it’s fourteen keystrokes just to type oven temperatures – no wonder my wrists are a mess!), formatting text in internet code, taking pictures, deciding which pictures look best, eating the leftovers because I can’t stand to wait any more, editing pictures, uploading pictures, and placing the pictures in the post — which is a challenge because the whole document looks like a jumble of code, rather than the pictures and text that you see here — then re-reading and proofing, and finally, publishing the post, it can take me a couple of days to get it all together.”
Add to that, I love blogging and have so many things that I want to share, that I always seem to have five posts in the pipeline that I want to put up on the site as soon as possible. And I can’t wait to jump into the next one.
Over the years, I’ve been playing around with photography, trying to take better pictures for you (and me) – not for any particular reason other than I enjoy taking pictures of food. Plus living in France, there are so many beautiful products and places, that I can’t help taking a snapshot when I see something enticing. (Which I sometimes get in trouble for in Paris, if I don’t ask first.) I’m not really all that interested in carefully arranged things, but I find something charming in a mess of oozing cheeses, fresh herbs tied in bundles from the market, and knocked-around avocados (with bruises and all, since I haven’t quite mastered many editing tricks). Or sometimes I’ll be sitting down to eat something, and it’ll look kind of interesting, so I’ll get up and take a few pictures. Then, one thing leads to another, then another…and before I know it, I’m racing to write up another story and a recipe to share.
One of my favorite bakeries anywhere is Baked, located way over yonder, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a ways to go, since that part of Brooklyn lacks subway stops. (And it’s about 3000 miles from Paris, and no métro goes there either.) So I’m happy to hear they’re opening in Tribeca, so when I’m in New York, I can make it over there more frequently. But what’s just as good as visiting their bakery in person, is their latest book, Baked Occasions, featuring Matt Lewis and Renato Polifito’s favorite cakes, cookies, and candies, for entertaining, including during the holidays, and on other festive occasions.
What endears me to this duo is that we share similar tastes in treats. Leafing through the book, I immediately dialed in on the recipe for Lebkuchen, those wonderful German spice cookies iced with a swirl of dark chocolate, and the Salted Caramel Soufflé, which sounds oh-so-good. But the lure of the Old-School Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 110) was too powerful to resist, and I gave those a go first. After mixing up the dough, while shaping the cookies for baking, I was grabbing clumps of the cookie dough and stuffing it in my face. People who actually got to taste the baked cookies should consider themselves fortunate that I had any dough leftover to bake.
However the pièce de résistance for me was learning that they loved Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce as much as I do, which was one of my childhood favorites. And I jumped at the chance to churn up a batch of it, to relive those innocent days of my youth, before life corrupted me and made me the person — for better or worse — than I am today.
Yes, I know I’ve been presenting a lot of chile pepper recipes lately. But, well, ’tis the season. And when nature speaks, ya gotta listen. So I promise a chocolate recipe up shortly — fortunately, chocolate is an all-year round kind of thing — but I wanted to preserve a nice bag of jalapeños that happily made their way into my Paris kitchen. And since they’re something you don’t see at Parisian markets, I wanted to make my bounty last as long as possible.
So I decided to preserve them for my next Mexi-fest, and pickle them in the style of those you find at taquerias, where they’re used as a condiment.