If you are going to visit Paris for the first time, maybe it would be beneficial for you to read this book. It would not enable you to understand fully the Parisian way of life but just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes, that’s just enough.
David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris accompanied me during the recent trip to the west coast, especially on the long train rides and early evening in the hotel rooms. He entertained and tickled the hell out of me. Try not to sit opposite a stranger when you are reading this book. You might land yourself in a laughing state with a tomato-red face and it’s quite a silly sight, really.
I love David Lebovitz’s hilarious yet informative writing which extends to his blog (thank goodness!). He recounts with a cheeky tone, poking fun at the Parisians and of himself and who can give his recipes a miss? After all, he has worked at Chez Panisse and is the author of five other cookbooks.
As I put this book down, I could understand why the person behind me was queuing so freakingly close to me when we were buying the tickets at the Louvre. Don’t they know what personal space is?! So I’ve learnt that ‘Parisians are always in a big hurry, but are especially frantic if they’re behind you. They’re desperate to be where they rightfully feel they belong: in front of you. It’s a whole other story when you’re behind them, especially when it’s their turn: suddenly they seem to have all the time in the world.’
Thankfully in my trips to Paris, I did not encounter any strikes since they are well-known in Paris and as David puts it, they are ‘so part of the cultural fabric, they even have a season.’ Whoah! I didn’t know that but you should certainly read on to find out more about the tantrums of this small minority of very well compensated workers.
I like his collection of ‘What they say versus what they mean’. Just to cite a few:
When they say, “We do not take returns,” they mean, “Convince me.”
When they say, “The restaurant is completely full,”, they mean, “We already have enough Americans in here.”
When they say, “It does not exist,” they mean, “It does exist – just not for you.”
When they walk right into you on the street and say nothing, they mean, “I’m Parisian, and you are not.”
When they say, “We don’t have any more,”, they mean, “We have lots more, but they’re in the back and I don’t feel like getting them.”
Go grab this book. I’ll give a 4.5 out of 5.