In Which I Link to Nifty Things and Answer Some Burning Questions

6 06 2010

Burning question #1: What’s with the radio silence?

Answer: Due to the extreme incompetence of my phone/internet/tv provider, I have been without internet service and tv for the last week.  (I’ve also been without phone service since the day I moved, which you may or may not recall was SIX WEEKS AGO.  Ahem.  Anyway.  Now I am at Nick’s work, on Sunday evening, just to use the internet.)

I’ll answer some more burning questions later, but first I want to tell you all about a spiffy new website called Paris By Mouth.  I attended the launch party last Monday, and it was a blast.  Dozens of Paris-based Anglophone bloggers, podcasters, authors, foodies and wine enthusiasts gathered at Spring Boutique to celebrate.  Daniel Rose, Josh Adler, and the rest of the Spring team saw to it that no one’s glass went dry, and no one’s palate went unsatisfied.  I had a great time catching up with Ann, chatting with Heather, David, and Lily, and meeting Katia, Catherine, and many more interesting, enthusiastic people.  The soirée was organized by Meg Zimbeck, the editor of Paris By Mouth, and her assistant editor, Barbra Austin, both of whom I really enjoyed getting to know a bit better.  You can see more pictures of the event (including one of yours truly helping herself to bread and cheese) at the website.  Speaking of the website, I think it’s going to be huge.  Meg has assembled an all-star team of contributing editors, among them some of my local favorites: Alec Lobrano, Dorie Greenspan, and Clotilde Dusoulier (for whom I was mistaken at one point in the evening – when I got a chance to tell her about it later, it was concluded by the nearby group that she could hire me to be her stunt double, so Clotilde?  If you ever need anyone to go to Japan in your place, I’m your woman!).  With so much talent and passion behind it, there’s no way that Paris By Mouth won’t succeed.  So far, my favorite features are the restaurant database – searchable by neighborhood, price range, or day of the week – and the Five Great which highlights top spots to find baguettes, steak frites, and other Parisian goodies.

* * * * *

In other news, I have recently been graced with not one, but two awards from Hannah of Wayfaring Chocolate.  I am proud to be the recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award and the Beautiful Blogger Award.  These things generally come with rules, but I’m choosing to interpret them “Kreatively.”  Instead of simply telling you seven little-known things about myself, I’m going to answer six (There’s one at the beginning of the post, remember?) of the questions I am most frequently asked, both in person and as judged from some of my most popular search engine terms.  So back to the burning questions:

Q: What are shallots?
A: Shallots are a member of the onion family.  They are small, brown- or purple-skinned, elongated onions with a mild flavor.  They are commonly used in vinaigrettes and pan sauces.

Q: What is a scallop?/What does a scallop look like?
A: Despite their orthographic similarities, a scallop is nothing like a shallot.  (Although I do find it interesting that these are two of my most popular searches.)  A scallop is a sea creature, a bivalve to be specific, which means that it has two shells, joined with a hinge, as opposed to say, a conch, which has only one shell.  Between the two shells is a large muscle (the part you eat) and a mess of other organs (which some people eat, notably the roe, if the scallop has it).  They are delicious, but it is very important not to overcook them, as they become rubbery and unappetizing.  I like them best seared, with the centers just warmed through, maybe served with some combination of bacon and vanilla.

Q: How do you work as a pastry chef and stay so thin?/If I had your job, I would weigh 300 pounds.
A: This one’s multiple choice.*
a) It’s a very physically demanding job – I’m on my feet all day, and those 20-kilo boxes of chocolate don’t exactly lift themselves.
b) My job is making pastries, not eating them.
c) Honestly, I have no idea.  I’ve always been thin, and part of me is terrified that I’m going to wake up one day and my metabolism will have decided to quit and I will, in fact, weigh 300 pounds.  And have diabetes.  So while I rather dislike this question, I will be very sad when people stop asking me.  It’s a fine line.
d) I try to eat lots of vegetables at home.
e) All of the above.

Q: Your job must be so FUN!/I’ve always thought that if the research/teaching/law/medicine/whatever doesn’t work out, I’d go into pastry.
A: More of a comment than a question, but I get this an awful lot.  Frankly, I find it to be a demeaning and insulting thing to say to somebody.  I’m tempted to reply with something like “Yeah, I always thought that if the baking doesn’t work out, I’d go into research/teaching/law/medicine/whatever,” but I usually just smile, nod, and move on.  Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy my job.  It just isn’t super fun happy prancing around in a frilly apron shoving cookie dough in my mouth all the time.  It’s hard work and it takes a lot of dedication and training.

Q: Are chicken pot pie or macaroni and cheese French?
A: No, but both use classic French techniques, such as the crust for the pie or the cheese sauce for the macaroni.

Q: Do you have a good recipe for a French fruit tart?
A: As a matter of fact, I do.

*The answer is (e), but the one you’re most likely to hear if you ask me is person is (a).

On this day in 2008: No-Knead Bread Update



14 responses

6 06 2010
Betty C.

“Radio silence” = “silence radio?” I have never heard that expression in English, only in French. Sounds like you’re busy and doing well.

6 06 2010
Chez Loulou

I saw the photos from the Paris By Mouth party at the Spring Boutique and it looked like a great time was had by all.
You could always tell people that if the pastry thing doesn’t “work out”, you plan on being a stunt double. 🙂

Sorry to hear that you’re still having problems with Internet and phone. What a pain!

6 06 2010
Meg Zimbeck

Thanks so much for coming to the launch party! It was great to finally meet you after admiring your words from afar. And thanks also for the kind words about our site. It’s so nice to hear/read.
x Meg

7 06 2010

Hurrah! Hello! ‘Twas wonderful to wake up to a new post from you – and I very much love your creative spin on the meme 🙂 I completely see where you’re coming from with the “I might go into pastry” question/comment. Personally, I think your job requires massive amounts of patience, dedication, and commitment. Not only in being able to *make* the wonderful creations that you do, but in coping with making multiple copies of them every single day.

And I can definitely see the resemblance between you and Clotilde, although, and this may be my personal bias showing through, I’d argue that SHE looks like YOU. 😀

Any chance you’ll be contributing to Paris by Mouth?

7 06 2010

Betty – I assume so. I’ve actually never heard the expression in French!

Loulou – I think the fact that the party was still going on 2 hours after it was supposed to end was a pretty good sign… 😉 And I was going to write “you have no idea,” but upon second thought, I’m sure you do.

Meg – Thanks for inviting me! I had a fabulous time, and your site deserves all the accolades it gets. 🙂

Hannah – Your comments never fail to make me smile. In fact, you may see things from me on Paris by Mouth – they trawl the net for good English writing about Paris. If you look under “Our Paris Writers” you’ll see my blog in one of the sub-menus. 😀

8 06 2010

*warbling* Superstar, that’s what you are!

9 06 2010
hungry dog

Ah, great post. I have to say I am guilty of thinking (if not saying aloud) how FUN it would be to be a pastry chef. I shall think before saying that again!

10 06 2010

I took some pastry classes and when it came time to decide if I wanted a job -a real job- in that field , I decided to pass! Too physically demanding! So I admire anybody who can do it!

10 06 2010

I hope you don’t have Numericable. They are the worst of the worst. Never believe anything they say (as in, “We are aware of the problem, and it should be fixed in a few days.”)

In your Terms and Conditions, there are usually ways to get out of those contracts. Often it’s either when they make a change to your contract, you can opt out, or do what I did and just send 2 consecutive letters (recommandé) during a period specified in the T+C, then get rid of them once and for all!

11 06 2010

You know you’ve arrived in Paris when a) you’re mistaken for Clotilde and b) David Lebovitz is sending you advice re: dealing w/your French internet/cable service provider. (Really, you arrived long ago. I’m just sayin’…)

13 06 2010
Tammy McLeod

Paris by Mouth! What a great opportunity for you and such fun. It sounds like you’re meeting some amazing people on the journey. Hope your internet provider is stabilizing so that we hear a bit more from you.

14 06 2010

Sounds like a fab event!! You are lucky 😉

I have Clotilde Dusoulier’s books..and love her blog!

14 06 2010

Hannah – Warble away! 🙂

hungry dog – I’m here to teach. 🙂

tasteofbeirut – Thank you! It certainly isn’t for everyone!

David – Thanks so much for the advice! We had SFR/Neuf, and since they shut my line off without me asking them to, getting out of the contract hasn’t been a problem. 😉 Darty came by today to install the new high speed line, which, so far, is working beautifully!

Trisha – *Giggle*

Tammy – I’m really excited about it. Just got the new internet service up and running, so hopefully I can return so semi-regular posting!

Jocelyn – I had a great time. I have her book, too, and I really like the charming, simple recipes.

15 06 2010

Paris by Mouth sounds awesome. What fun! And good job getting rid of SFR and getting your internet back 🙂

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