Saturday, April 02, 2011

Weekend Cooking: A visit to a French patisserie

For this week's Weekend Cooking post, we are visiting a patisserie in Paris through the eyes of the characters from Stephanie Perkin's YA book, Anna and the French Kiss. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only because of the Parisian setting, but also because it is a really well told story. Just briefly, the book is about a young American girl who is sent to an international school in Paris against her wishes. She starts out very unhappily, but she gradually finds a group of friends, one of whom is the droolworthy Etienne St Clair (not that I am drooling over him. He is 17 for goodness sake, and I am, well, not.).

These excerpts all come from Chapter 17.

The patisserie has thick planks of creaky hardwood and a chandelier draped with tinkly strings of topaz crystals. They glow like drops of honey. The women behind the counter lay extravagant cakes into brown-and-white-striped boxes and tie each package with turquoise ribbon and a silver bell. There's a long line, but everyone here is patiently basking in the ambience.

Mer and I wait between tiered displays as tall as we are. One is a tree made from macarons, round sandwich cookies with crusts as fragile as eggshells and fillings so moist and flavourful that I swoon on sight. The other is an arrangement of miniature cakes, gateaux, glazed with almond frosting and pressed with sugared pansies.

And then a bit further on

We're almost in viewing range of the display case. I see a hint of golden apple tarte tatins. The edge of a glossy chocolate-and-raspberry gateau.

At first everything seemed too sophisticated for my tastes, but three months into this, and I understand why the French are famous for their cuisine. Meals here are savored. Restaurant dinners are measured in hours, not minutes. It's so different from America. Parisians swing by the markets every day for the ripest fruit and vegetables, and they frequent specialty shops for cheese, fish, meat, poultry, and wine. And cake.

I like the cake shops the best.

And again further on ...

...we reach the front case. It shimmers with neat rows of square shaped tarte citrons, spongy cakes swelling with molten chocolate, caramel eclairs like ballet slippers, and red fruity cakes, with wild strawberries dusted in powdery sugar.

And more macarons.

Photo credit
Bin after bin of macarons in every flavor and color imaginable. Grass greens and pinky reds and sunshine yellows. While Mer debates over cakes, I select six.

Rose. Black currant. Orange. Fig. Pistachio. Violet.

And then I notice cinnamon and hazelnut praline, and I just want to die right there. Crawl over the counter and crunch my fingers through their delicate crusts and lick out the fragrant fillings until I can no longer breathe.

I've never actually tried macarons myself, but I have to say, I am definitely feeling the need to do so now! And just looking for pictures of them online was loads of fun because they just seem to look so gorgeous most of the time!

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


  1. LOL, yes, that's the thing about YA romances, the protagonists are younger T__T (Which doesn't stop me from loving Glee or other series that feature people who are younger than my 31).
    I'm craving macarons right now. And tarte tatin. Actually, wouldn't say no to anything French xD

  2. OMG, I want to be in Europe right.this.second. Oh how I miss the bakeries and markets. Thank goodness I baked this weekend because I'm dying now.

  3. chocolate-and-raspberry gateau please! ;-)

  4. I would love to try those macarons! Not to mention golden apple tartins.

  5. I've seen this book around the web. I had no idea there were baked goods involved!

  6. Those macarons are such beautiful colors :)
    Glad I didn't read this post before eating breakfast, or I'm sure my meal would have been alot less healthy, lol.

  7. I love books that make food come to life! Thanks!

  8. OMG, Marg - You made me so hungry in addition to longing for a really good bakery. I love books/writers like this.

  9. Ooo, this sounds wonderful. I love, love, love French pastries. So rich!

    A Bookish Affair

  10. Wonderful!! I've read that the French don't bake at home because they have all these wonderful places where they can buy their breads and cakes.

  11. omg, wonderful post. Makes me want to run out to the bakery. Oh wait, I stopped what I was doing to bake Beth's Chocolate ginger cake, so I have that sitting on the counter waiting for family to return home.

  12. I love the sound of golden apple tarte tatins and the macarons seem so fun!

  13. I am hungry again right now. YUMMY!

  14. Oh, all of these bakery bits sound delicious! I'll have to add this book to my to-read list. I love living vicariously through 17-year-olds!

  15. Oooh now I have to add this book to my list for the foodies reading challenge. Yup, yup <3

  16. My local supermarket sells coconut macaroons at a very reasonable price. We often buy a packet or two and then have one as a snack with our packed lunch!

  17. I love foodie books, and from the quotes you posted here, this one sounds excellent! Thanks for sharing all these little tidbits with us!