Paris is covered in a canape of lights this time of year. The marchés de Noël pepper the arrondisements, flaunting seasonal treats and holiday cheer. Outside the buzzing department stores, chestnuts are roasting on an open fire in a shopping cart, just like at home. And another cold-weather standby, vin chaud, is boiling away au comptoir at my local café. Served piping hot and warmed through with spices, it is the coziest way to heat up the punch bowl.
Et voilà! 8 glorious pages in Technicolor watercolor in Zeste Magazine on French newsstands now. Not only will you brush up on all the French names for all of your favorite exotic fruits, but always find some tasty dessert recipes for the upcoming fêtes. My name is spelled right, too! Neither the Gessie with a G on all of my official French documents nor the perpetual moniker of Jenny I get called at aperos. I’m as happy as a cherimoya (see #7)!
I have relished in the fact that Halloween is thankfully optional in France here. Now, what to do with all that pumpkin? Although living in France has all its discoveries and indulgences, it takes a trip across town for a mere can of overpriced American pumpkin. Although I have made the recent discovery of pumpkin puree at Picard, the lifesaving frozen food emporium, it is a cinch to master at home. Bonne baking!
*A spooky after effect of Halloween and a new I-PAD, excuse my serial killer handwriting.
A few months back, I was at the wedding reception of mon mari’s best friend. Although i had a few fleeting conversations about New York and its amazing ‘energie’ with the other party guests, I was stuck in that buffer zone of not clinging to the people i had already used all of my Pringles jokes on and targeting who my next victim would be. So I did what any normal expat in search of inspiration would do, i propped myself up next to the cheese platter. Time went by. Champagne came and went. I was both invincible and completely invisible to the soiree. Victory was mine! Until the host of the evening, the ever sociable best friend of mon mari spotted me out. “You know, Jessie”, he whispered discretely in my ear. “If you want, I can happily introduce you to some people. Although I often think otherwise, you cannot make friends with a plateau de fromages.’ Before I could translate “Try me, bro” into French, I knew I was thoroughly busted.
Unlike America where everybody says “I love you!” and inclusion is a virtue, I am still teaching myself to be a bit more proactive in social situations in France. If not, it will be just me and the cheese.
I am happy to announce the launch of my very first book as a food stylist. Or pardon my French, styliste culinaire. Les burgers du Camion qui fume by Kristin Frederick (Tana Editions), revealing the secrets of Paris’ wildly popular burger truck. I can personally attest that all of its 30 burger recipes are delicious, hot or cold. Although I have not craved a burger since we shot the photos early this summer, thumbing through the book has reignited my passion for one of my favorite Yankee doodle pastimes. With beautiful photos and reportage by my friend David Bonnier, it will certainly take the American street food trend into the French home.
Sorry friends, this one is in French. But luckily food porn needs no translation.
How often do you get invited to take a sneak peek into the largest food market in the world? I got a call last night from a top secret client. Nothing too top secret, but much more interesting to assume so. “Wanna go to Rungis?” “Uh YES!” “Ok, I’ll pick you up at 3:30am.” A few hours later, 7 miles outside of Paris, en route to DisneyLand and Ikea, we were strolling the immense meat pavilions. According to my top secret associate, because most supermarkets order directly from suppliers, only about 5 percent of the meat consumed in Ile-de-France (Paris and its surroundings) is actually purchased at Rungis. Most buyers in the morning hours are butchers, marchands, and restaurants selecting their prime carcasses. Then they are split, trimmed, and sent off on their merry ways. Even arriving at 4am, the beef sector was already wrapping up its sales for the day. And the butchers were taking their apero by 6am.
We Chicagoans are responsible for both the Blues and the meat. Blame it on the Chicago girl in me, but I just had to gush that I came from the Meatpacking city of the USA. But much to my chagrin, none of my collaborators had even heard of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. But I am happy to report that Rungis’s carcasses were no comparison, everything hung up properly or carefully sous-vide. Now that I know where Lady Gaga does her shopping during fashion week, sadly there were no sitings.
So by 8am, Rungis was just a memory. I walked out of there with no blood on my shoes and no appetit for anything other than my morning pain au chocolat and a big old nap.