Results tagged WTF from David Lebovitz

15 Things I’d Miss About Paris If I Moved Away

At a recent book event, there was a little Q & A session after I chatted and read from my new book. The only guidelines were that I told people that two questions were off limits.

white asparagus

One was; “Why did you move to Paris?”, and the other “How long are you planning on living in Paris?” Because I get asked them at least six times a day, and I’ve been here seven years, (so do the math and you’ll understand why j’en ai marre ), I figured I should just answer them in the book and be done with them once and for all.

Except when I said that, for a moment, I kind of blindsighted the crowd as I could tell that everyone was about to raise their hand to ask one of those two questions. Multiply that by 150+ people, and I’m not going to ask you to do the math again, but you see what I’m up against.

But someone did ask me a very good question: “What about Paris would you miss if you moved away?” which rendered me uncharacteristically speechless. In the book, I wanted to be truthful about my life here and balance the good with the not-always-good, and sometimes people focus on the less-alluring aspects of my life in this city, mostly because they’re more fun than to hear what a spectacular city Paris really is.

So here are 15 things I would miss if I moved away from Paris…..

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Rhubarb Tart FAIL

rhubarb tart

I hadn’t planned on buying rhubarb yesterday morning, but I was at the stand of my favorite producteur and there it was, and there I was, so our collective fate was sealed.

As I waited for him to wrap my stalks tightly in brown paper, my mind raced to think what I would do with them. By the time I handed over a couple of euros, I’d made up my mind that they’d make a fine filling for the baked tart shell I had waiting at home, with a thin layer of lemony pastry cream.

It’s been odd around here lately. I think there’s something in the air; le morosité of Paris, as they call it, the general malaise that smacks the city in a collective wallop, like the tiny, sharp grains of pollen that are wreaking havoc on the sinuses of us all. Yes, it’s warmed up and the city is even more beautiful, but a string of May holidays has Parisians bolting for the borders, heading away for le petit weekend any chance they can. There’s just something odd in the city that I can’t quite put my finger on.

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French Tart Dough Recipe

tart dough

I was in the middle of a lovely spring lunch at Chez Prune up by the Canal St. Martin the other day with Paule Caillat, a woman who teaches cooking classes here in Paris.

We talked about many things, but of course, the conversation quickly turned to the most important subject of them all: baking. And soon she began to tell me about this tart dough recipe that she’s been making for years.

I was expecting her to say, “You begin by taking some cold butter and work it into the flour.

But she started by saying, “You take butter. And you take water. You put them in a bowl. Then you put it in the oven for 20 minutes and let everything boil until…” which, of course, stopped me mid-swallow of my Côte du Rhone. I almost started choking.

“Surely, you jest!” I wanted to cry out in disbelief.

Except I couldn’t, because I don’t know how to say that in French.

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How to Prepare Leeks

I hate to generalize, but aside from body-checking anyone in their path, there are other ways that Parisians are different than Americans.


If you don’t believe me, ask some of the friends I traveled with recently, who have the bumps and bruises to prove it after a plane arrived from Paris and the dining room where we vacationed turned into a game of human pinball.

(But don’t ask Deb about how one fine day, her corner of peaceful tranquility on the beach ended up with her being suddenly surrounded by a mass of noisy new arrivals, who didn’t seem to mind arranging their chairs all around her…when the rest of the three mile-long beach was completely deserted.)

leeks washed leeks

When I lived in America, it was rare to find leeks. Some of you out there in the states are probably thinking; “Leeks? Aren’t those the fancy onion-like things at the supermarket that are expensive?”

Well, yes.

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les Soldes


Tomorrow is the official start at les Soldes, the twice-annual period when the French government allows stores to discount merchandise. It usually last four weeks, although for the past couple of months, a few scofflaws have been marking things down discreetly anyways, flaunting the law in these cash-strapped times.

The area I live in is the Bastille, and it was once known as a hub of activity for furniture makers and interior designers. During the past few years, the Gap, Levis, and Nike, have muscled their way into the neighborhood as well. Unlike their American counterparts, they have to wait for the sale period as well.

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WTF x 3 (or 2+1)

1. A few weeks ago I went back to Exceptions Gourmands with a friend from New York.

The two women working there were quite nice and helpful, and my friend ended up picking out a few things to buy. The amount was something like 7.53€. So my friend opened her wallet and handed over a 10€ bill.

“Oooohhh,” the saleswoman said, eyeing the lone bill laying on the counter. “Do you happen to have exact change?” she asked.

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Is Paris An Airplane?

Air France

…it’s a challenge to get through to the person you really need to speak to on the phone.

…the amount of documentation you need seems excessive.

…when there’s a screw up, there’s no one to complain to.

…all the workers act like they can’t be fired—because they can’t.

…you’re sure the folks up ahead of you are getting better treatment.

…there aren’t nearly enough bathrooms.

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5 Cooking Terms Let’s Leave Behind in 2007

1. Dressing

It’s not dressing, it’s stuffing.
Get it? It gets stuffed in the bird. That why it’s called stuff-ing. Even if you don’t use it to stuff, you’re not ‘dressing’ the bird. The mere mention of the word ‘dressing’ makes me wince down to my you-know-what. (It’s even hard for me to type.)

If you want further proof, it’s Stove-Top ‘Stuffing’ Mix, not ‘Dressing’ mix. I don’t care what the dictionary says. Don’t argue with me. Or Kraft.

Ok, you can call Kraft on it. But not me. I’m too thin-skinned.

2. Veggies

Perhaps the worst offender. They’re vegetables, my friends. If you’re too lazy to pronounce two extra, teeny-tiny syllables, all hope for humanity is lost. You deserve to read about the mindless antics of Britney and Paris for the next decade.

And I don’t mean my mindless antics in Brittany, or Paris.

3. Combine

The jury’s still in recess on this one.

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