Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Chocolate and Friends

I have been on something of a contemporary romance binge over the last couple of weekends, and to be honest when I started this book I thought I was getting more of the same but instead of a small town America setting it was set in Paris. Turns out that even though my library has this book catalogued as fiction it is actually a memoir. In it the author talks about living in Paris (and not really loving the experience) and meeting the man who eventually became her husband. Along the way there are struggles with bureaucracy in France and then again in America, cultural differences, and more. All in all, it is a fun memoir, particularly when it comes to the multiple weddings, and the families and the food!

When I read this section, there was one section in particular that caught my attention but the whole section had some elements that fit the theme so I have kept the whole section, even though that makes it quite a long quote. The quote comes from pages 37-41:

"So," Adela said when I got home from work that day. I had followed the dancing promise of the Eiffel Tower down to the Metro, into whose depths I had descended for a packed and smelly ride home with some man standing behind me singing odes to my butt. "It's a good thing you know this cute guy."

"What?" We were sitting on the cheap, burnt orange blanket that covered my bed. Some students bought decent comforters to replace the dorm's linens, but I was thrifty. I only believed in the most essential of expenses, like chocolates from the various luxury chocolate houses whose beautiful boxes and tins currently decorated the two long shelves that circled the tiny room. My pink Fauchon one was still there, although Adela gave it a dirty look. My orange teddy bear sat at one end of the bed and studied us. He was French, brought back from a trip for me when I was toddler, and very Gallic - that is, obsessed with food, feisty, and argumentative - probably because he had grown up in America surrounded by my stereotypes. Programs and theaters flyers littered the long board of a desk, amid stacks of books. I was studying the prelims I would have to take soon after I got back to the States in order to continue my Ph.D. studies. There were some four hundred works of French literature to memorize, along with the principal theoretical analyses of the same, so I'd been reading nothing but French classics for a couple of years now in preparation. I wanted to do my dissertation on the cultural renaissance in French-speaking, tropical, smiling Tahiti, but my department wouldn't let me do that until I'd survived the capital of France and passed my prelims. Above my bed was an enormous map of seventeenth-century Paris, torn in one corner thanks to that yellow tacky stuff that's supposed to hold things up. Cheap white toile veiled a window looking down at the picnic tables in the dorm's courtyard, a major center of gossip.

Adela peered through it. "You're so lucky," she sighed enviously, not for the first time. "I can barely even see the courtyard from my window. Now look at that! Why didn't you tell me that Marina and Jack were sitting at the same table?" She turned back from the window and opened my mini-refrigerator to discover the narrow, long mint-green box of eight small macarons I had just brought back from Laduree that afternoon. I sighed. That girl sure could sniff things out. She took a bite of a chocolate one, which made me feel as if her teeth were sinking directly into my heart, and switched back to her original subject. "Because we're going to need a cute guy around here."

"What?" I decided she must be talking about some other guy, one who wasn't tall, dark, and gorgeous and who might even recognize me if he saw me again. I knew a few cute guys, honest. I mean, ones that knew me back and with whom I'd actually exchanged names.

"You know that blond witch, Candy?" Adela was stuffing my macarons down her throat at an alarming speed, favoring the chocolate and pistachio flavors. I grabbed one for myself. There are two kinds of friends: those who admit their addiction to chocolate openly and therefore buy chocolate from time to time themselves, and those who claim others are chocoholics while eating all of the other's stash. Adela was the latter. And if you tried to hoard your chocolates under your bed because you knew she might pop in, she found some totally logical excuse to look under your bed and then went and told everyone in the dorm you were selfish and didn't share. I don't know how she managed this. One minute she'd be sitting on my bed chatting to me about the most recent fight with her professors, and the next she'd be under the bed hauling things out, and I'd be the one smiling weakly and feeling guilty. "She smiled when she passed me in the hall."

"Damn her," I said. "I hate it when people smile at me." Maybe that was why people ducked in terror when I smiled at them in the street. It was a deadly insult in Europe.

"And you know why," Adela said bitterly.

"Because she's a witch," I remembered. Candy, with her perfectly straight blond hair and blue eyes, lived in the same hall as Adela and had featured in her conversations before. "And she sleeps around. So she smiles at people. It's really nasty of her."

"Because he told her!" She gripped a macaron in a hot little fist, unnerving me. It was bad enough she was eating them; she'd better not start crushing them to crumbs.

"He did? When?" Who was he? What did he tell her about? Did I dare reveal my ignorance.

"Probably right after it happened!" Poison was clearly eating at her wounds. "He kissed me and then ran to brag about it to all the girls in the hall to say how easy I am! And what a player he is!"

I blinked a few seconds. "Adela, we aren't still talking about the guy you kissed when you both were drunk at the last party two months ago, are we?"

She stared at me. "Of course we are! How many people do you think I've kissed? I'm not like that Candy. Oh, he thinks he's so cute. To kiss me and never even call me the next day. Well, I'm not one of his girls, that he can jilt when he wants to, and he's going to learn it."

"Yeah, but - Adela. You were both drunk, and you only kissed. He might not even remember it or think anything about it." Adela stared at me with pure venom in her eyes, and I backed down. "The scumbag." Well, I still needed her to go with me to a certain restaurant occasionally.

"So what we're going to do," Adela said firmly, to keep me on track, "is this. Our next dorm party is coming up. We all have two invitations we can give out. You haven't given one of yours out yet, have you?" she checked sharply for insubordination.

"No." Pretty much everyone I knew already lived there, expect Valerie and Giulia, who wouldn't want to come.

"So you have two. I have two. And I can get more. Not everyone uses theirs, there are people in this dorm who spend their time studying." She said this on a note of incredulity. The only time Adela studied was when she wanted to get out of doing something, and then she didn't really study; she called me on the phone and told me how so-and-so's light was still on across the dorm courtyard but he wasn't answering his phone when she called him, what did I think that meant? "So what we're going to do is: I'm going to invite Eva and Pilar and all my prettiest friends."

"Check," I said, wondering where we were going with this. Was it a scheme to show the jilting heartthrob that we were all lesbians so that Adela couldn't care less about that kiss? Wow, my friends never talked me into doing this kind of stuff back home.

"And they will use the extra invitations I come up with to invite all their cutest guy friends. And there we will be, all these beautiful guys. And that will show him."

"Right," I said. The scary thing was, she explained this with such conviction that it almost made sense. It's the same way she kept up ending with my chocolates, which is not that easy to do.

"And the person who knows the cutest guy here is you."

"What? Who?"

"The guy at the restaurant!" Adela exclaimed, out of all patience. "The one you keep dragging me back to see every week!"

I cleared my throat. "I think 'know' might be considerably exaggerated in this context." I wouldn't say the waiter actually broke into a smile, but his eyes crinkled up and warmed when I walked into the restaurant, and he seemed to enjoy helping me choosing things on the menu. This brazen flirtation was as far as I'd got.

"Laura," Adela said, and my heart quailed, and I almost dove under my bed myself to haul out my Christian Constant chocolates. It was that tone of voice. "I have been patient with you, But that patience is at an end. You have been going to that restaurant for three months, and if you do not ask him out the next time we go there" - her eyebrows formed menacing, curly crags - "I will never eat with you in that restaurant again."
The author does now have some a series set in Paris feature chocolate and luuurrrvvvee. I have bought the first one so you may well see some mention of her books in future Weekend Cooking posts.

Weekend Cooking 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, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.  


  1. Interesting! Have a great week!

  2. Chocolate, Paris, cute guys. This does sound fun!

    1. There are lots of Paris set memoirs out there. This one is a fun addition to them.

  3. The cover makes it look more like a novel than a memoir, so I can see how people are getting fooled.

    1. I guess, but it does also definitely fit the tale that is told in the book.

  4. Ooh food & Paris, perfect combo. I didn't fancy macaroons until we went on our cruise to Noumea and we tried quite a few from a French Patisserie ... heaven.

    PS Marg, I've finally participated in Weekend Cooking ... thanks to your posts and pinterest :)

  5. Quotes really give a nice idea of a book and if it is something I would like to read. Often better than the cover, because this cover doesn't speak to me at all ;)

  6. love this. I think I would have passed this up if you hadn't shared the quote. And now I want some of those cool tins.

  7. Ooh-la-la! Love stories set in Paris. And macarons! and chocolate! Thanks for the fun excerpt.

  8. A new Payard Patisserie opened up a few blocks from here; your post has me out the door to pick up some macarons right now!

  9. I agree with the author completely on the two types of chocolate lovers. Actually, it's true for any kind of good food. I am currently a buyer living with two moochers. *le sigh*

    Thanks for sharing the quote - the book sounds fun!

  10. Adela is not a friend if she eats the other girl's food/treats without even asking. I would probably stop reading the book at that point as it would bother me too much. but the macarons, now that I would want to eat.

  11. Paris! Chocolate! Romance! That sounds like a must-read. :)

  12. Sounds like it could be a fun book.

  13. I just stumbled across your blog--some great posts here! I've recently been on a 'memoir' kick and I'm definitely a chocolate lover, so I'll have to check this one out!

  14. The chocolates and macaroons make me envious! Lovely post.