“I wanted to understand it all, the Frenchiness of this place. I wanted to be part of it and for it to be a part of me — a part of us, our family. We hoped to have four years or so in France. Could that happen in four years? We were nervous, yes, but our American hearts were open. Could we be French too, just for a little while? French, not by citizenship, but by heart?” ~ from French by Heart by Rebecca S. Ramsey
Look who’s here!! *jumping up and down*
Becky Ramsey is one of my favorite bloggers (wonders never cease) and the author of the delightful travel memoir, French by Heart (Broadway Books, 2007). Though I’d wanted to read her book for a long time, I only recently got around to it because of my renewed infatuation with all things français.
I’m so pleased that Becky (who knows passion and French pastry are one and the same) agreed to answer my burning questions, and share a delectable recipe from her favorite French cookbook. Oo-lah-lah! This calls for a nice hot cup of French roast, and — what’s your pleasure? Pain au chocolat? Galette des Rois? How about a crisp baguette with creamery butter? Go ahead and nosh on this Nutella crepe with strawberry cheesecake gelato while you make up your mind:
The title alone conjured up blissful images of a city bursting with creative energy, teeming with artists and bohemian types meeting at sidewalk cafés and salons, everyone in love with life and each other. Add to that dreamy vision Majorie Priceman’s wildly exuberant, free-spirited art, and I was a goner before alighting on the first page.
Picture Books about France, Part One, with a few punitions, satisfied my hunger for a leetle while. But now, I am in the mood for my morning cup of Darjeeling, a warm croissant, and more stories set in the land of pâtisseries, artistes and les animaux!
C’est vrai. In my quest to find the best picture books with a French setting, many included dogs and cats. Remember Bonaparte, Metro Cat and Zaza the dachshund? In this second batch, we have three cats as main characters. Does this mean the French have an inordinate love for les chats — or is there something innately “French” about cats that make them ideal for these particular types of stories? Perhaps authors who like writing about France just happen to also be cat lovers. I haven’t been to Paris in years, but I sense there are a lot of stray cats wandering around the city. Oh well, Marie Antoinette has her loyal pug, Sébastien, so that evens things up a bit. ☺
Have you been good or bad this summer? Pretending to be good, but maybe a little naughty on the side?
C’est d’accord. You will probably like your punishment:
Oui, a handful of la punitions, those famous butter cookies from the Poilâne Bakery in Paris! Pierre Poilâne’s grandmother used to play a game with her grandchildren. She called them over to seemingly punish them, but offered a handful of these cookies instead. Today, if you visit any of the Poilâne bakeries, you will find a basket of free punitions by the register. Très délicieux!
To go with your cookies today, how about a few picture books set in Paris? It’s the best way to visit from the comfort of your window seat, hammock, or porch swing. There are funny animals, rollicking adventures, a few artistes, even some crêpes. If you’ve never been to Paris, you will experience the joie de vivre of this great city and see some of its most famous landmarks. And if you’ve already visited La Ville-Lumière (“The City of Light”), these stories will touch your heart and make you yearn to go back again.