Monday, October 31, 2011


Since Halloween doesn't really exist here I'm hoping that all of you will go out and have an extra-spooky time to make up for my loss of tricking an treating. It's always been one of my favorite holidays and I cannot wait to start making scary Halloween treats next year for friends and family. The last two years I had a Halloween feast in which everything I served had a disgustingly ghoulish name such as "Ogre Boogers" for pesto gnocchi, or "Human Ribs" for, well, baby back pork ribs. There is a plethora of great ideas out there on the web for Halloween dishes and decor that I found it too irresistable to resist. I often go to Martha Stewarts website for inspiration because she really is the queen of holidays. Here are some of my favorites:  

Cauldron Curry

Martha Stewart

Bat Wings

Martha Stewart

Sinister Spread

Dexter's Dining Kill Room

While this is obviously NOT Martha, it is a wonderful idea if you want to have a seriously terrifying Halloween Feast. With this creepy decor it doesn't matter what you serve, but I do think a nice bloody steak would be appropriate.

Use your imagination and remember, it doesn't have to be too literal. I'm planning on getting a nice set of dishes in either black stone or rustic silver to help bring an eerie element to the table. Oh, and if you read my Kitchen Tools post then you hopefully went out and bought a cast iron pot if you don't already have one. A Halloween Feast is a perfect time to use it because it makes for a great cauldron! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Yesterday was as to be expected at my wonderful patisserie. There was misery, disappointment, yelling, embarrassment, humiliation, and citrus. I did, however, get to go on a short errand which was quite a nice field trip outside of the normal horrible realm of pastry darkness and little did I know the surprise it held for me.

Previous to my move to Paris I spent a week here with a friend, Chrissy. We had quite a lot of fun together exploring the city and eating our way through it, being our own tour guides, and stumbling across whatever was in our path. It really is a wonderful way to view Paris because there is so much to see here that if you make a definite plan to go from A, to B, to C you can miss out on a lot that lies in between. During our wayward stay I did look up a few places to check out, such as recommended restaurants and whatnot. I'm not exactly sure where I found this particular restaurant, but somewhere in all my books Chez Lena et Mimile was mentioned and it was close to our hotel.

Though it may have been close to our hotel, it was still not a quick walk to Chez L & M. Confusing and swirly we went this way and that spending a good hour trying to figure out how to get to the small courtyard, turnabout, intersection thingy where this restaurant lived. Luckily we found a Parisian who helped us locate the establishment and who boosted our self-esteem by informing us that even Parisians got lost in that area.

From what I remember the restaurant was what I would want from a Paris restaurant. It wasn't extremely expensive and the food was good. The atmosphere was comfortable and homey, and the restaurant itself was irresistibly charming, sitting above a minuscule garden with it's own statue at the center. Upon being seated we were given little shot glasses of mushroom and cream soup which were not only delicious but also warmed out hearts to the place more than the fiery roast they were feeling already. Free food? Heck yeah! Right away? Where have you been all my life?

Chrissy and I were tired and the restaurant was fairly bare since it had taken us so long to find the place that normal eating hours were over. Not to mention that we were still fighting off some serious California jetlag. So we didn't exactly have the energy to pour over the menu and thus ended up ordering the same thing. From what my poor french skills could uncover, it was a shellfish pasta and when the two gigantic bowls were placed in front of us, I knew from the smell that it was going to be delicious. And delicious it was.

Shellfish has the ability to be rich and refreshing all in one fell swoop. And this pasta definitely captured that. It was a dining experience to remember and since I have moved back to Paris I have thought of that place often. But, alas, I was concerned that I would never see it again. Finding it once when I could remember what it was called was hard enough. Finding it again without much to go one would be an epic journey.

But then today one of my first tasks at work was to go and deliver a few bags of ordered catering products to a small location for my boss's cousin's law graduation celebration. Assisting in the assembly of all this tiny stuff was my actual first task and being told I needed to move faster by even Irina was the wonderful accompaniment I got with that job. But going in the taxi through Paris was lovely. Since I usually take the metro I don't get to see what exactly it is I'm passing, but today in the taxi I felt like a real tourist. I couldn't help but stare at everything out the car windows, thinking of how much I still have to explore in my short time here and feeling giddy at the thought of it.

I knew we were getting close to our destination when we pulled down a classic small Parisian cobbled street. Like a kid in a candy store my eyes drank up everything around me until, suddenly, my brain digested exactly what it was I was seeing. This was familiar. I had been here before. It looked like...but it couldn't be...and yet, it was. This was the small little turnaround, street corner, garden where Chez Lena et Mimille sat. And I took this unlikely discovery as a sign from the fates that I had to return there and enjoy a delicious meal.

As soon as I arrived back at work I quickly scribbled down the name of the restaurant and planned to go back there as soon as I could. Perhaps after a day of exploring the Fifth Arrondissement to regain my expectedly drained strength from shopping.

And even though after my return I had a normal, unrewarding day at my internship, I still had a flicker of excitement for the next few months to come once I'm free. Seeing that little restaurant inspired something inside of me to take in as much wonderful things as I can while I'm here. So even though I was exhausted after work I held to my promise and met up with Elze in the Saint Germain area of Paris and we set out to explore her neighborhood.

We didn't get very far but did manage to stop into a beautiful olive oil shop which offered a plethora of infused olive oils, flavored vinegars, tapenades, and salts to name a few. It was magnificent to see the walls towering with stacks of different oils and the fact that they had samples of everything certainly warmed my heart to them. I bought a bottle of apple honey vinegar that I found so delicious I'm afraid to open it for fear that I just may drink the whole thing.

We then continued our way down the cobbled walking street and up into Un Dimanche À Paris, which means, "A Sunday In Paris." It's a famous patisserie and chocolatier and is as immaculate and breathtaking as an art studio. Everything is beautiful and neat and you can even watch the chefs working in the kitchen behind glass walls. Though it is not at all the type of whimsical pastry shop I dream of owning, I still had to appreciate the beauty and perfection that this shop embodied. I did not buy anything but plan to go back and try out a few different goodies and perhaps find some Christmas presents there for the chocolate lovers in my life.

Elze and I then met up with two of her friends and we went to a little bar for drinks and eventually our bellies growled us into ordering food. I just got an appetizer, a salmon tartare, and though it was nothing to rave about it certainly was nice. And spending time with people in a Paris bar on a Paris street eating a simple and clean dish is something anyone can enjoy. It's moments like that that make me realize what it is to actually live here.

Overall it was a wonderful day out of the house and it helped encourage my inner feelings of anticipation for when I'm finally done with the torture of not making pastries in a patisserie and instead am out there enjoying pastries in a patisserie. So here's to hoping that I get my visa renewal sooner rather than later and then...let the eating commence!

* I have recently read terrible reviews of Chez Lena et Mimille claiming they are ridiculously priced and not nearly good enough to support it. Perhaps what I ordered (being a simple shellfish pasta) was on the cheaper side of their menu. Though my experience was good it is clear that other people do not feel so. I'll have to return some time and let you know more! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I have plans to meet up with Elze after work and so I'm not going to have time to write a real post for my handful of readers. So instead I thought I would leave you with an iconic image of Paris, just incase you forgot where I was.

It's a beautiful city and as much as I love it I know that I am going to get quite homesick these next few months since the holidays are coming up. Halloween has always been a favorite of mine and there were many years of late nights with my mom throwing together a last minute costume that would always, because my mom ROCKS, end up being the best! So I hope you lucky Halloween celebrators are more put together than me and have your Hallows Eve getup all ready to go!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Today was a fairly busy day at the patisserie for me. Since I have been there long enough I now know how to do enough bullshit jobs that they don't have to wait until they have time to explain what I should do next. So after the morning tart topping and shop opening Alberique gave me a list of things to do.

The first was to cut feuilletage (puff pastry) to later roll into savory bits of goodness. As usual this was supposed to be done, "Tres vite!," but for some reason the pressure of it was more than I was used to. Alberique gave me 30 minutes to complete the task of cutting all the feuilletage, spreading the filling on them, rolling them up, brushing them with yolk, then rolling them in either mixed grains or almond powder. Let's not forget that I was in the unfortunate main thoroughfare of our kitchen and so was constantly moved from this side to that side and back and forth. I was getting frustrated, and Alberique's constant "plus vite! Vite! VITE!" did not help my mood. 

So when my half an hour was up and I was just finishing the filling on my last few pieces of feuilletage, I was just waiting for Alberique to come and say, "Beaucoup vite!" And in response to this I had a few scenarios planned out. 1) Yelling at him in english just to get my feelings out and while the actual words would be beyond him I'm sure the feeling would be conveyed. 2) Angrily untying my apron, ripping of my hat, and stating "That's it. Je fini!" 3). Throwing my rolls on the floor, slapping Alberique across the face, and storming out. So as Alberique came up to me I was saying to myself, "Go ahead. Make my day." But to my surprise none of the three scenarios were needed. Instead Alberique said, "Tres bien!" And told me to finish the rest with olive tapenade and then do a, b, and c. 

Perhaps he could sense my boiling point about to erupt. Maybe I really as just doing a good job. Either way he diffused the situation quickly without being fully aware of the potential consequences. The rest of the day was uneventful and I would have even gotten out early if it hadn't been for chef coming down and demanding that I go out and buy 2 kilos of clementines and then peeling them upon my return. Luckily I'm a pro at that now so I still got out on time. 

One interesting thing that I did discover today was during my break while gossiping with Cecilia, the other American. Apparently the bosses, Lady Boss and Big Boss, are planning on getting rid of Julien, the new guy. I am frankly appalled by this. Julien is not only nice and lets me do things, but he also seems to be doing a really good job. He has his act together, works hard, works quickly, and seems to know what he's doing. Plus he's been coming out like a champ considering that they through him into a difficult situation. He now is in charge of all the pastry people and is my go to guy for jobs. He's like a second Alberique only much sweeter and taller. 

Why exactly they are gossiping about firing him I don't really know, But apparently he isn't quite cutting it in their eyes. What are they thinking? I guess he forgot to make two creams one day but aren't we all human? And aren't mistakes a part of the human experience? Apparently not at my patisserie. And really, what are they going to do without him. Poor Alberique is spread thin enough as it is, and you know it has to be true if I'm feeling sympathy for the ass who mocks me to my face. So really, what is their deal?

Overall, I think they think very highly of themselves. Sure they may have more than enough reason for this considering how successful their patisserie is, that there is a line out the door every day, and that they obviously make very delicious, high end goods. But really, at some point you have to let reality check in and realize that people are going to mess up and especially when things are new or different. Get off your high horse and come mingle with us common folk. It may not be as pretty but at least it's real. 

And that really is all I need to know. The fact that these people cannot let go of the fact that not everyone is perfect, the fat that they treat interns as horribly as they do just because they can, the fact that talking and laughing and smiling are all signs that you aren't working hard enough, are all reasons for me not to want to be there, and all perfect examples of exactly what I don't want to be like them when I have my own shop. So who's on their high horse now?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


For my two days off I barely left the house. I was just oh so tired and I think that now I know I'll be leaving my internship early the imminent freedom has made me feel as if I have an excuse to laze around. I'll have plenty of time to explore and enjoy myself then, right? Gluttony will completely possess the amount of sloth I've been suffering from, won't it?

Either way, I don't feel as though I have anything too exciting to share with you quite yet but I felt horribly guilty just posting another list. (You may have noticed by now that I love them. My sister, Kathryn seems to share the same infatuation with planning out and writing down all the things we want to do much more than actually doing them. It's obviously a genetic impulse that's hard to fight.)

But today after work I did venture out past my metro stop and explored a little bit of the street my shop is on and past that. Aside from checking things out, I actually was hoping to find a birthday present for my ex-boyfriend, no longer ex-boyfriend, it's complicated thing, back home. Like a typical girl, however, I returned home with three pairs of new shoes and not even a key-chain for "the boy." The truth is I actually need some shoes because I was not planning on staying here so long and failed to pack any of my winter clothes. And when it comes to rain, cold, or snow, one thing you really need are good shoes. For everything else you can just load up on every single piece of clothing you have, shove some newspapers in there for insulation and boom-shaka-laka instant parka! But like a classic girl I had to get one super cute, just couldn't resist, uncomfortable, unreasonable, unsensible, unnecessary pair of shoes. And let me tell you, they are FAB-YOU-LUUUUUS!

Once I had scoured store after store after store of foot fetish material, I finally emerged onto Rue Montmartre. It's a wonderful street and down by the Church of Saint-Eustache there's a lovely market. I was greeted by rows of rotisserie chickens that smelled luscious and I was tempted to by one but I knew I was already going to look like a fool with three boxes on the metro, what would they think of me if I brought a whole roasted chicken?

I think the market is there pretty much everyday. It's a mix of fresh produce, premade food (like desserts, roast chicken, dumplings, etc), flowers, and clothes. The whole area around there seems very much alive and like it has an interesting story to tell, but alas the sun was setting and I knew it was time to go home. I'd have to come back and check it out once I was free of the slavery of citrus.

The fact of the matter is that work has not been too terrible lately. I think I'm just getting used to it. But I also know that I am moving up in the world because while I may still get shafted with all the citrus and acid fruit tasks, I also know they know I'm better than Hirimo. I feel sorry for him but sometimes I wish I could speak Japanese so that I could ask him, "Dude, what are you doing?"

A perfect example was the other day when we were given the list of tasks each of us got to complete throughout the day. I was given the job of zesting a few lemons and then tackling six pineapples. After I'd massacred the lemons, I grabbed some rubber gloves, the cutting board, my gigantic knife and started at those "ananas" like a pro. Hirimo, meanwhile, was given the task of making two creme d'amandes.  When I had surfaced from my arduos acidic task of brunoise-ing six massive spiky beasts, I discovered that Hirimo was still knees deep into his first creme d'amande. It had been over two hours! This, I told myself was, "Très ridicule!"

For those of you who don't know, creme d'amande is a basic batter made for french pastries. It is often the base of many tarts such as fruit tarts, chocolate tarts, nut tarts, you get the picture. It is, also, perhaps one of the easiest things a person can make. All you do is throw some ingredients together, mix em up, and there you have it! Why, on earth, it took Hirimo so long I don't really know, but watching him crack eggs gave me an idea. I think he may be a pot-head. I just don't see any other explanation for why a person would take that long to crack a single egg.

Since Hirimo had failed to get through both creme d'amandes in even a freckle of a reasonable amount of time, I was then asked to scale out the ingredients for the second creme d'amande for Julien (the new guy) to make. Since the first ingredient is beurre pommade, I measured out the butter, put it in the mixer and started pommade-ing it. Alberique saw this and said, "Who's butter is this?"

 "Mine," I responded sheepishly.

"Do you know how to make this?" Alberique asked again.

"Yes..." I said slowly. Because the truth was my cat could make creme d'amande. Sure I'd never made this specific one before but I'm sure I could figure it out. And then a miracle happened. Alberique allowed me to make the creme d'amande. He set a timer for ten minutes and told me that was how long I had to finish it. I may or not have stopped the timer for a minute or so but still I kicked Hirimo's butt! And then it was back to peeling clementines.

While it may have been something, it wasn't enough to make me change my mind about leaving. It's a sad day when you want to cartwheel over creme d'amande. And as I've said numerous times (pretty much every post) the feeling of being their is worse than getting a bikini wax.

Then, this morning, as I was topping raspberry tarts, I noticed something creeping out of the corner of my eye. And there it was. A french cockroach. At least I think it was a cockroach. Either way I crushed its skull under a tupperware box and wiped it up before I could closely examine it. It was the same color and had a similar form but it was extremely small. Still it wouldn't surprise me if cockroaches were a bit sissy here in Paris. The thing is that any food establishment is vulnerable to creepy crawly pests. We clean the shop pretty well every single day. And I wasn't as grossed out by it as I thought I might be. But as I was crushing that brown exoskeleton with a handy plastic container, I realized that this is my internship.

Here I am surrounded by my passion, a beautiful, delicious, well respected patisserie in Paris, and yet there's still a nasty shuffling cockroach creeping around my tart. You can't ignore it because if you do it'll eventually dive right into the pistachio filling and then what do you have? Trash. The only thing you can do is crush it like the bug that it is and hope it's guts don't squirt on your dreams.

So today as I was bobbing along on the train home, I tried to perk up for tomorrow's work, telling myself that pretty soon I'd be done with the cockroaches. The rest of my time here is going to be spent where the cockroaches don't dare come out, it's too bright, and too happy for them. And then, as I was moving one of my bags with a new pair of shoes in it to make room on the train, a man stepped onto the metro. He was middle aged  frowning, but in his earbuds I could hear something I recognized. Katy Perry's "California Girls" was blaring from his Ipod. And I smiled. I'm a California girl, ya know. And it's not just sand in our stilettos that we hate, its cockroaches in our raspberry tarts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As I am here, part of what I want to do is not only experience Paris but also experience it in such a way that I can be of assistance to others visiting the City of Love. 

So I wanted to come up with a list of "assignments to help encourage me to get some of these things done. While most of these will be about food, I want a lot of them to be about getting to know the city better in other ways as well. 

I am sure that I will come up with so many things that I may not be able to complete all of them, but I was also hoping that some of you who read my blog would let me know what you think would be interesting to examine further. 

Here is what I have thus far. 

#1. Find the best croissant
Since I just talked about how great the French croissant was, I think trying and comparing some of the most famous croissants here would be both fun for me, and informative for everyone!

#2. Explore the fresh, street markets
  Paris is known for having incredible street markets. This is something that happens regularly all throughout the city and is a huge part of a Parisians daily and weekly life. I know that by going to these markets I will get to learn a lot about the Paris life and culture. 

#3. Go to art exhibits 
Paris is famous for their art scene. It has the most famous art museum in the world, the Louvre, for starters. During my first visit to Paris I spent three days at the Louvre because of how extensive it's collection is. I have always loved art and was blessed enough to take two years of art history in high school, giving me a deep connection, appreciation, and understanding of art. But aside from the Louvre, Paris has multiple special art exhibits and I would love to experience them while I'm here. An upcoming exhibit is the Cezanne Et Paris exhibit at the Musee de Luxembourg, available from October 12th thru February 26th. 

#4. Compare Pierre Herme and Laudree Macarons
Macarons are all the rage right now in the states. But in Paris they have been popular for much longer. While the history of the macaron is up to interpretation (some believe it originated in Italy, while most die-hard French insist it was a French invention), there is one fact that cannot be denied. When it comes to macarons there are two heavy-hitters competing for the title of all-star, number one, top dog. This is Laduree and Pierre Herme. I would love to spend a day, week, month, or even the rest of my time here, doing a taste test of all the different flavors these two infamous establishments have and decide for myself who really is the best. 


#5. Pastry Tour
When you come to Paris there are numerous pastry tours you can sign up for where you are taken to all the top notch pastry shops. I, however, would like to sift through all the famous shops and decide which ones are really worth going to, and hopefully find some hidden gems to toss into the mix as well. I want to know for myself, and for friends, family, and strangers visiting, where the best places to go are, what I would recommend at each establishment, and what fun things one can do around each shop. 

#6. Go to Paris flea markets
Since I have hopes and dreams and since those hopes and dreams will end up costing me a boatload, I am trying not to spend too much money while I'm here. It's tricky because there are so many beautiful things and it is easy to justify it thinking, "This is a memento of my experience here that I will treasure forever!" Not to mention the fact that this is an extremely expensive city and a single macaron costs over a euro in most shops. But I do want to attend a few flea markets while I'm here and hopefully find some wonderful deals that are too good to pass up. If I'm lucky you'll see me on Antique's Roadshow in a few years. 

#7. Discover at least 20 new cheeses
France has over 400 different types of cheeses with numerous varieties of each type. That's a lot of dairy. Since I really could live on bread, cheese, and wine, I know I would enjoy sampling as many varieties of cheese that I could. 

#8. Paris on a budget
This is something that I not only want to do but that I need to do. As with any big city there are bound to be plenty of great places to eat and shop that aren't going to devour your budget. I'd love to uncover a few of them while I'm here and share them with all of you! 

This is all I have for now. This list will undoubtedly grow and grow as time goes by, and please let me know of any missions you have for me to undertake. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


1. Beautiful Parisian Women
     While I may not be a HUGE fan of feel the fattest, shortest, and frumpiest I've ever felt in my life, I must say I do love how beautiful some of the women are in this city. It makes me feel like I'm in a movie. How do so many women here have such long legs? Do they all have personal stylists and shoppers too? And where do they get all the damn money for the plethora of snazzy scarves and leather bags they apparently own?

2. Stinky Cheese
     I have always been a big fan of cheeses. The stinkier the better. And if it's soft and spreadable it's love at first sight. And here there are so many different cheese shops that I cannot resist buying some and having a constant supply in my fridge. In fact the other night Elze and I had a dinner based primarily on cheese, bread, foie gras, figs, sour cherry jam, and grilled pineapples. To say it was "french" would be accurate. To say it was sublime would be an understatement. There is a serious drawback to having a round of stinky cheese in your fridge and that's the pungent waft of morning breath aroma that comes every time you open your fridge. (It's also not all that great for your waistline). But the quantity and quality of decadent cheeses is just too irresistible.

3. Wine
     Wine is something I write about often. I have never imbibed so much wine before in my life. But it just seems like the appropriate thing to do considering where I am. And it's also hard to pass it up when even the fairly cheap bottles are tasty. I am, by no means, a wine connoisseur, but I do appreciate a good glass when it meets my lips. All the same, living off of the meager means my internship pays me doesn't allow for much splurging when it comes to vin. And considering how many bottles my friends and I go through we have to be thrifty. So while I have a new found appreciation for the delicious beverage I have even more appreciation for the availability and quality of the cheap wine you can find here.

4. The Metro
     The Paris metro is something I have a deep relationship with. I take it everyday on my way to work and if my day has been especially emotionally exhausting I take it home as well. While it may scare some people, being underground, crowded, rat infested, and with a regular announcement warning you of pick-pockets, I don't find it intimidating at all. It's easy to navigate and for less than 2 € you can travel anywhere in central Paris. And having Metro Card makes me feel like I'm part of a special club.

5. Tiny Shops
     I know I've mentioned this before but I just cannot get over how many teensy weensy little shops there are in this lovely city. Some of them are the size of a tiny bedroom with stuff stacked up up all the walls. They can range from a tiny flower shop, a small antique store, a little vintage clothing store, to a minuscule art shop. And what else I love about these shops is that most of the people that run them are actually charming, friendly french people. They obviously enjoy their lives in their little shops and there's something about these enchanting stores that gives me the sense that the people who own them are doing something they really love.

6. The Homeless People/Performers 
     Now this may seem like an odd thing to enjoy but the homeless people in Paris are extremely interesting. Most of them have mattresses and I see them sleeping on them when I walk to work in the morning. Firstly, I'm always a bit upset that they're still asleep while I'm on my way to my internship in hell. Secondly, I always wonder where they got these mattresses. Thirdly, where do they put them during the day? They also almost all have a daily job they do. They sell homemade ashtrays made from soda cans. They have tin bins rigged inside shopping carts as grills and they'll grill corn on the cob over them or roast chestnuts on top of a lid over the flames. Every day when I get off the metro I can smell chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I know I'm going to love it even more come wintertime. I think another reason I enjoy them is because I walk past the same few guys every day so I've sort of bonded with them. There's the three guys near my metro, one who sells grilled corn on the cob, one who roasts chestnuts, and one who sells ashtrays and always has his little dog with him. The dog is always sleeping on a piece of cardboard and is covered with a blanket.
     There are also a lot of people who perform on the street or in the metro. Most of these people are very talented and I love listening to their music while I wait for my train. These people don't seem to be homeless since they are well dressed, groomed, and can afford quality instruments, microphones, amps, the whole shabang. But they are still some of those people that everyone just walks past without taking notice, when really they are a big part of this city.

7. Croissants
     The croissants here really are the best. I don't know what they do differently but you just cannot get a croissant in the states that is as flakey and melt in your mouth as one in France. They are a French creation so I'm sure that has something to do with it, but almost everywhere you go you find a delicious flaky buttery croissant just waiting for you to enjoy it. I'm going to try as hard as I can to make a decent croissant to sell in my shop, but I think there are somethings you just can't replicate. It's obviously in their genetics, or perhaps the water, but just as they cannot make a burger better than the ones we have, we can't make a croissant better than the ones they have here.

8. Offal
     Offal is something I have always loved but American's squeamishness about innards makes it a difficult thing to find in the states. The French, however, love it. You can find liver, bone marrow, sweatbreads, brains, kidneys, or fromage a tete in most restaurants, brasseries, and cafes. Foie gras? Why, I'd love some! Bread with a side of sausage and fromage a tete? I'm all about it! The other night I ordered some bone marrow and out came three cuts of bone cooked so that the marrow was soft and delicious, served with a bowl of sel gris, some toast, and a tiny spoon and I was in heaven!

9. French Swear Words
     Something about French curse words makes me smile. Sure it may scare me a bit when my chef is yelling, "Merde!" or "Putain!" but they way they express it shows such meaning and feeling I enjoy it. Plus there's something about it that helps me relate to my fellow kitchen staff. I swear in the kitchen all the time and so while I may not understand exactly what he's saying, when Alberique utters a "putain," "merde," or "salope," I can relate to what he's going through.

10. Cobbled Streets
     It may be a bitch to walk on with high heels but cobbled streets add to the charm of Paris. It also reminds me how old this city is. I walk on so many on my walk home and it makes me smile every time.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Hello All!

I hadn't written in a while so I thought I would send along some pictures of what we've been making. We just finished week five and I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by. Tomorrow we switch with the morning group so we will be starting with Chef Baccon, a four foot tall Korean woman who couldn't weigh more than a potato chip. She's about as sweet as can be and is extremely talented. I am looking forward to the change since our other chef, Chef Leroy, who was undeniably french and a bit...frustrating...was lovable but not the best of teachers. He could be quite confusing and his pronunciation of English words often led to a few lost in translation moments, (air sounds like hair, wrap like wahp and so on). I am also looking forward to the earlier mornings. We will now be starting at 6 am instead of 1pm. I'm used to much earlier hours since working in bread and am anticipating getting a lot more done with all the time I will have after class, especially considering that most of the shops close by 8pm around here, which was when the afternoon class usually ended up getting out...if we were lucky! It also means that I will get a chance at cooking dinner one night for everyone, and I plan on something very American like macaroni and cheese and fried chicken, everyone is quite excited about it. 

I had my birthday here a few days ago and all of my new friends were absolutely wonderful about it. We didn't do too much, just went to a dinner at the local pizza joint, but they all were quite concerned that I have a good time. Chef Leroy even sent me out of class on my actual birthday on a wild goose chase and, to my horror, when I returned they had turned off all of the lights and had placed and lit candles in a lemon cake we had made that day and sang me "Happy Birthday!" All of the people in my group pitched in to buy me a set of six miny cocottes (tiny casserole pots) in a rainbow of colors and they are absolutely adorable! 
Prior to my birthday, I came out of class one day to find a little mangy dog wandering around the campus. This is quite normal in France since people seem to let their dogs roam free and apparently they return home when they are done with the personal canine affairs. I gave him a bit of my brioche and he followed me home. Everyone in our apartment (who are all in the same group as I am) were thrilled to have a bit of excitement for the evening. We named him Amande (for almond, since he looked like Creme d'amande) and fed him more brioche, cured beef, scrambled eggs, and whatever else we had around, including a bit of foie gras. He was one of the happiest dogs I've ever seen, and followed me around quite contently. I made a small bed for him the corner of my room, since it was too late to take him back to the school that evening, and while he obviously would have rather cuddled under the sheets with me (he was absolutely disgusting, or I would have been all for it), he was managed to make himself at home in no time. He returned with me to school the next day and waited outside the door for a short while, but when I was finished with class eight hours later he had gone on his own way. I haven't seen him since, but I'm sure he probably returned home. He made me miss my own pets quite a lot, and if he had been there when I emerged from lab I certainly was planning on adopting him, after taking him to the local groomer, and was wondering how difficult it was to get a dog back into the US. 
I have been struggling a bit with my French and it seems to be the most ridiculous language. I can't understand why they include all of these letters that they have no intention of pronouncing, and our French teacher won't teach us the basic rules of grammar because apparently they rarely apply. I am hoping that now that I have my computer back up and running I will be able to continue with my Rosetta Stone and, at the very least, improve my pronunciation. But one of the guide books we read said that French men find women with American accents as irresistible as we find French men with French accents, so perhaps I will not try too hard. I just hope I learn enough by the time I go to my internship so that I can bumble around the kitchen and learn as much as I can. I expect to learn more in my internship than in the five months I spend here so I pray that my French will be good enough to get as much out of it as I can. 

It's been quite gloomy and rainy here the last few days, but I have aways loved a good storm and it reminds me of winters in San Rafael. It also encourages me to stay inside and get some studying done, which I should probably go do now! 
Wishing all of you the best!


See! At least at one point I was optimistic about my internship. But reality has set in and while I know I'm always going to be happy that I've done this, I still think I'm going to end it early and research/visit/enjoy Paris while I'm here. 

Of course all that french studying didn't really happen. Sure I got through a few levels of Rosetta Stone but I'm much better at procrastinating than doing. But working in the kitchen has definitely helped to improve my kitchen french at the very least. Plus as we got further along in the pastry program, Chef Baccon was particularly helpful in immersing us in french language. She really is an incredible person and I am so lucky that I got to study under her. Truth be told I appreciate both of my chefs and now that I'm in the kitchen I can see how much they really did teach me. 

As for Amande, like any one night stand he was never seen from again. It was quite sad, actually, and I looked for him every day on my walk home. I guess he just went back to his people. Still it was a fun night and I enjoyed his company. I miss my own pets so much that it was nice to get to have some dog bonding, even if it was with stolen property.