What a year! 2021 was so full of new experiences for Philo Collective, one of which was the launch of book club this fall. For seven weeks a group of 10 women met to discuss what I consider to be one of the best books about life in Paris, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, by David Lebovitz.
I read the book before I moved to Paris for my master’s program, read it while I lived in Paris, and then again at least once since I moved back. I never tire of the funny anecdotes that David uses to describe his experiences as an American expat who sets up a new life in the City of Lights. An invaluable bonus is that he includes more than 50 recipes within the memoir. His writing is so engaging and relatable that it seemed like perfect fodder for a weekly event centered on food, fellowship and great discussions.
Neither of us had ever been in a book club before, but the idea of sharing ideas and perspectives with other people while enjoying delicious food seemed like a natural extension of our Philo Collective vision. It was so cool to hear about other people’s travel experiences and culinary fears and triumphs, and build deeper connections with people in our community.
Over the course of the book club we made and enjoyed salade du chevre chaud (hot goat cheese salad), clafoutis aux pruneaux-framboises (plum and raspberry clafoutis), le chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), tagine de poulet aux abricots et aux amandes (chicken tagine), mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse), choquettes aux pepites de chocolat (chocolate chip cream puffs), mélange de noix epices (spiced nut mix), salade de tomates au pain au levain (sourdough bread salad… twice!), soufflé au fromage blanc (fromage blanc souffle), oignons aigres-doux (sweet-and-sour onions), lemon madeleines, tarte tatin (apple tarte), pain d’epices au chocolat (chocolate spice bread), and one failed attempt at venetian-style sardines with onion and raisins, in which case we substituted a baguette and brie cheese.
While everyone enjoyed trying new foods, and Emily and I loved trying new recipes, I think it’s safe to say that the book itself was the biggest hit. David’s amusing stories made most of us laugh-out-loud at one moment, cringe at the next, and contemplate a trip Paris by the end of each reading assignment. It was the perfect escape at the tail end of a long year!
Thank you to the group of wonderful friends who joined our inaugural “club.” We can’t wait for the second installment coming in January 2022!