Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Differing Opinions

"The Sweet Life In Paris" by David Lebovitz Broadway Books 279 pages $24.95

Lebovitz graduated from college, took the mandatory tour around Europe and fell in love with Paris. Years later, nearing 50, he sold his San Francisco home and went to live in Paris. The book is a compilation of his experiences, recipes and sources.

He and I agree on many things about The French. They are spoiled, totally the equal of Italians when it comes to a bella figura, can price your outfit from head to toes in less than 30 seconds as you stroll down the sidewalk. Like petulant children they will tantrum and go on strike for the slightest reason.

We disagree on others. He complains about the line cutters, who rudely shove in front of you if there is even an inch between you and the person in front of you. I have never seen this and I've done my share of market shopping there. He adds that Parisians are always in a hurry and will "help" you cross the street by aggressively bumping your butt with their stomachs or the front wheel of their bike or motorcycle. Haven't seen (or felt) that either.

We agree that The French are aggressively polite (when they're not shoving you) and a simple transaction is accomplished only after a lengthy conversation with the vendor, regarding mutual health, weather, item to be purchased and fond goodbyes.

A fine point: when the cheese plate is passed around, do not help yourself to the point of the Brie - cut a slice along the side of it from back crust to near the point. (At my friend Michelle's this is a fine point none of us have seemed to conquered.)

A chocolate mousee is traditionally made using raw eggs (the warm chocolate kind of cooks the egg yolks) but Americans are too squeamish for this. He offers instead:

8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 T butter, diced
3 T espresso or a liquor
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream

Put all but the cream in the top of a double boiler and melt together. In a separate bowl, beat the cream using a whisk. The cream replaces the egg whites. Fold the cream into the choloate one-third at a time, cover and chill it for at least three hours.

We can all agree on this: The French know and appreciate good food. God bless'em.

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