Wednesday, June 23, 2010

bien elevee

 A little French paw clutches the patisserie counter in anticipation. I wondered
Mom, how come my 1st sandwich cookie was an Oreo?

Not a framboise macaron..?

I've no remembrances of things (madeleine) past.

I cut my eye-tooth on home-made, rock, hard oatmeal cookies.

I never made religieuses with the aid of a kid's cookbook. Thanks Mom for letting me place raisin 'buttons' on the gingerbread men. C'est comme ca.

My marshmallows were not exotically flavored delicate affairs like these pastel guimauves.

Mine came in a puffy bag and I popped them one-by-one into my mouth without thinking. I enjoyed roasting them over the stove on a fork, especially when you were out of the house Mom. How I never burnt down the house is amazing.

Claes Oldenburg got it right.

Our cakes are clutzy

Everything is so darn big.

No wonder we go nuts over delicate Paris pastries?

When we grew up eating this?

Where was our early taste-bud training?

French kids learn to become little locavores early, cooking what's in season.

Mom, I'm a bit miffed. A bit deprived.

I have a lot of catching up to do. And it's such hard work.

I'd like to send you all bites of everything I have to taste to catch up. The next best thing is, Paris patisserie guide. I met the editor at BEA last month. She was telling me what hard work it was, having Paris pastry chefs drop off new cakes everyday to taste. It took heavy arm twisting to get those chefs to divulge their secret recipes. Pastry isn't all fun and games you know.

Pictures in this book are almost better than the real thing in fact, so take a bite.
bien elevee = qui a reçu une bonne éducation.


  1. I have a madeleine tin on my summer wish list. I must become an expert maker of madeleines!

  2. I don't know - there's something very charming, memorable and kid-friendly about an Oreo (and milk)!

  3. Carol, these look delicious, but I'm telling myself that desserts always look better than they really taste, right? How can you tempt us like this at this hour? I ate a banana instead. I baked zucchini bread from garden zucchini, so that's my fancy schmanzy goodies...sigh. One can dream.

  4. Hmm, une délicieuse madeleine! Merci, @nne

  5. uh oh now you're sending me off to the bookstore again.....

    yes my perennial existential quandary. how i could spend SO MANY (by now) years on this earth.....and how SO FEW have been spent consuming the bounty and beauty that is France. down right criminal to my mind. (on the other hand, i just read david leibowitz's list re: so you think you want to live in paris/france - too funny!)

    anyway, so much cognitive dissonance c'est vraiment pas possible!

    welcome back to nyc!

  6. Very funny/wistful, Carol. I think I got the best of both. But I must tell you that when I was going to university in Strasbourg & the dollar went floop. (5.5 to 2.3 FF at time, yes...)...a friend & I procured American baking supplies (through her access to a PX in Germany) & I acquired access to an institutional kitchen (don't ask).

    I made brownies, blondies, pumpkin pie, etc. Then I took them to the French-English(speaking) cinema club & sold them. There were very few Americans there...sold a lot.

    That's how I made it through the last, worst world economy. Would that it would work now. Now everyone can get anything (at a price) & so...well, it doesn't work now. I treasure the memory of explaining to a French farmer lady that I really did want the pumpkins for baking. I knew she thought I was nuts (not to make soup, etc.). I took her pumpkin pie the next week & she looooved it. As far as I know her daughter still makes them for their family. And with little sugar pumpkins they decided to plant.

    GG & I say: meow. The Americans advance to the final rounds for the first time in 1930. World Cup. Yes, I know almost no one who visits here cares...but I do.


  7. Now I understand why my children don't eat sweets. No cookies, cakes, rien! I'm feeding them the wrong stuff. I'll have to explain to my husband that we need to take the kids to Paris to get them to eat sweets;-)

  8. The French pasties do look incredible - I'm sure that they taste great, too.
    Good luck to the Americans in the World Cup!

  9. They DO taste every bit as good as they look Sue. The flavors are complex, layered and not overwhelmed by the sweetness believe it or not.
    Nothing wrong with a good zucchini bread either..

  10. Alla in TX1:42 PM

    I am one of your faithful readers, your blog became a part of my every morning just as necessary as coffee.
    I am Russian living in Austin, Texas and I am trying to learn more about French culture and I also study French.

    I have a favor to ask for/ a suggestion, rather. I am very curious as of how French Workplace looks like.
    Do they work in cubicles as we do? How their desks look like- anything from a phone, pens, etc.. Do they have stacks of paper piled up like we do or their offices are modern and computerized? Do each of them have a coffee cup on a desk- everyone in my office does. May be you have pictures of your friend’s, The French Girl, workspace/desk etc? Are they neat or have a bunch of accessories on their desk? Id love to see pictures if you have/willing to share any. I tried Google and surprisingly no images came up at all..

    Thank you in advance!
    Your blog lightens up my day every day since I discovered it about a year ago.


  11. Justine1:45 PM

    I too was brought up on home-made oatmeal cookies and now feel deeply, truly deprived.
    I lost out on the finer things of life at an early age...
    I'm very glad you didn't burn done your house!!!

  12. lapetitemort4:23 PM

    Gosh I love your blog! My favorite discovery of this week truly. I've been reading all your 2010 posts these past few days. My hunger for Paris has sky rocketed i MUST figure out a way to go live there!

  13. Another sinfully delicious post! I am sorry that you remembrances of things past don't include sophisticated French pastries, but I am sure your mom's oatmeal cookies did you a whole lot of good! :-)

    Thinking that my kids were dancing in the aisles when they discovered that supermarkets here are carrying Oreos! ;-)

    I wished you'd have grown up around my mom. She's the best baker ever (yes, Julia, she even made puff pastry from scratch). However, marshmallows were never on her to do list. ;-)

  14. You've got me travelling down memory lane, cookie department. Oreos are iconic, but let's face it very commercial and full of ingredients my mom would never have used.

    I have to say that my mom is a fine baker, and took pride in her breaks, pies, cakes and cookies.
    These were all made from classic Southern recipes, in which sugar and butter played large roles (well, except for the yeast breads.)

    Probably every region has some classics, and probably nowadays each of these regions have folks who just cannot find the time for baking. And so. They go to bakeries, or supermarkets, and do not find thereabouts anything remotely as delicious as what they remember from home baking.

    I do have a madeleine tin. Might have to get it back in use ... well, might not want to heat up the oven in this weather.

    Welcome home.

  15. I've read that even French baby foods are prepared with great imagination - think beef burgundy versus our pureed boiled beef, low salt. However, perhaps it is the very exotic and nuanced aspect of French pastries that makes the heart beat faster. Regrettez-vous RIENS!

  16. You must be regrouping after your trip..sounds like you had a wonderful time,
    or you make a wonderful of wherever you go!!

  17. Hi Carol,

    I came across your blog several days ago as I have been thinking about moving to Paris and I am completely addicted!
    Thanks! :-)


    Bisous! :-D

  18. I really can't say I am crying too hard for you as I read this.
    I have had many a good pastry with you and you have CERTAINMENT! made up for lost time cherie!
    would love to do some more sampling.

  19. Anna-Marie7:14 AM

    Yes the tears are falling fast and furiously for your lost and deprived childhood!
    There should be a law of some sort...

  20. Leslie Anne7:22 AM

    Adorable, touching picture of the little girl in the pastry shop...
    Isn't that all of us at some time or other in our dreams?
    You are living out our dreams and sending them to our inbox every morning.
    BIG MERCI Carol!

  21. Shelley10:06 AM

    But educated, or bien élevé, can be of the heart and soul, too, and this, I think, you have in spades. So cheers to your upbringing which made you vibrantly, appreciately alive!

  22. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Great entry! I was raised in Belgium by parents who took food very seriously and worked hard at "former le gout des enfants", meaning to develop a child's taste to appreciate subtle difference in individual and combined food. In American recipes, salt and sugar in particular are so overused, and yes the portions far too large. On the other hand, only here can you savor a really delicious cheesecake!

  23. I am doubting my whole upbringing now!!
    I feel terribly deprived now :(
    I must bring up any future children in paris to ensure they do not feel deprived like i do!

  24. Ah yes, the sweets I grew up with here in Australia didn't resemble those beauties either.
    Which book is the one with the droopy (yet very yummy looking) religieuses? Is it the Cyril Lignac one?

  25. Voilà encore l'enfer de
    la tentation avec ces merveilleux gâteaux !


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