Essays

13 Years of C&Z: 13 Lessons for Blogging and Life

Clotilde

Hey, you know what I did thirteen years ago, like, to the day? I went ahead and created a blog! About food! And I called it, wait for it, Chocolate & Zucchini. Because it had a nice ring to it, and I liked chocolate, and I liked zucchini (and fortunately still do).

It has been an utterly amazing thirteen-year ride, and most of my life’s blessings have stemmed directly or indirectly from that single decision.

Where and who would I be if I hadn’t created C&Z? It’s anyone’s guess and it makes me a little dizzy just thinking about it, but I can’t imagine how I could possibly have found a more fulfilling, happier life path. (It’s a pretty good feeling.)

I want to thank you, whether you’ve been reading for thirteen seconds, thirteen weeks, or thirteen years. None of this would make sense, or even be possible, if it wasn’t for your interest and your readership.

I will be organizing a Paris meet-up soon, to celebrate with those of you who happen to be in our fair city. (It will be free; the idea is just to get together for a drink and a chat.) If you’re interested, please fill out this form and we will notify you when we’ve arranged the details of date and venue.

I have done a lot of learning, thinking, and growing over the past thirteen years, and I want to pass on these thirteen lessons for blogging and life. I hope some of these resonate with you. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts if they do!

Basket of produce at the market

Continue reading »

Fasting Against Jetlag

Sprouted Trail Mix: The Snack That Broke My Airplane Fast

Sprouted Trail Mix: The Snack That Broke My Airplane Fast

As the traveling season gets nearer, maybe you have some lovely, exciting plans to fly someplace distant across several time zones. In that case you’ll have to contend with jetlag, and if you do, I want to share a cool tip I first heard about from my friend Adam, who himself picked it up from Jason Kottke.

The advice is simple: you should fast for 12 to 16 hours before breakfast time at your destination.

The reasoning is that the digestive system plays a significant role in our body’s perception of time. This voluntary fast is meant to mimick an overnight fast (minus the midnight munchies) and helps to set the body’s internal clock to the new time zone.

I happened to read about this just before we left to spend some time in San Francisco in the fall, and since we were about to embark on a round trip of 12-hour flights with 9-hour time differences, I was quick to recruit myself as a guinea pig to test the technique.

And I’m thrilled to report it worked really well: I sailed through the time difference with just about the same effects I get from taking the metro, even though I got virtually no sleep on the plane, thanks to a very sweet, but very alert little boy sitting on my knee.

It was very easy to put in practice, too.

Continue reading »

Cooking For One (Zucchini and Chickpeas)

Zucchini and Chickpeas

This is what dinner looks like when I eat on my own.

I am endlessly curious to know what cooks cook when they cook for one: some can’t see the point if there is no audience, others fall back on no-cook comfort foods, some take it as their opportunity to indulge in the foods they love but their family despises, and others yet take pleasure in treating themselves to the precise meal their appetite calls for.

I’m in the latter camp. Breakfast cereal for dinner was never my thing, and my evenings alone revolve around two all-important decisions: what dish I feel like eating, and what movie I feel like watching.

I relish the closed circuit thought process that solo meal planning involves, my brain taking its cue directly from my stomach, with zero consideration for anything or anyone else.

Granted, the cooking I do then is quite simple, taking no more than thirty minutes of my time, cleanup included, but still, it’s thirty minutes that I invest in my evening with joy. And what those meals have in common, 99.9% of the time, is that 1- they are vegetable-focused, and 2- they can be eaten from a bowl, with just a fork or a spoon. An essential feature if I am to couch-curl while I eat.

Continue reading »

Dates, Hazelnuts, and Thoughts on Food Gifts

Dates and Hazelnuts

At a C&Z anniversary party three years ago I met David, a reader from L.A. who was spending a few months in France. We’ve been in touch on and off since then, and when David came back to Paris for a vacation in late spring, he very generously brought me a gift.

What he brought was a bag of honey dates grown in Indio, California by Dates by Davall, and a pound of dry roasted hazelnuts from the Freddy Guys orchard in the Willamette* valley in Oregon. He included a note to explain that he gets the former at his farmers market in Santa Monica, and discovered the latter while in Portland.

This struck me as a textbook example of the perfect gift.

I’ve been savoring those dates and hazelnuts sloooowly, trying to make the supply last as long as possible.

Not only are the dates and hazelnuts spectacularly good — the dates soft and caramelly as toffee, the hazelnuts crisp and light as popcorn, and vividly flavorful — but the combo of the two is the ultimate treat. Throw in a square or two of dark chocolate and angels come out from behind the clouds, playing their tiny trumpets.

Beyond the sheer good taste — literally and figuratively — of the present, I love the elegant simplicity of offering ingredients that reflect the work of fine growers I might never have come across otherwise. I love that they come with a personal story, too, and that I get to imagine David visiting those market stalls, sampling the fruits, going cuckoo for them, and buying extra to give out to friends so they could share in his enthusiasm.

Continue reading »

The Omnivore’s Hundred

The Omnivore’s Hundred is an eclectic and entirely subjective list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life.

He offered this list as the starting point for a game, along the following rules:
1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten (I’ve used icons instead, and added an asterisk for the items I’m particularly fond of).
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

[Update: In response to the numerous questions his list raised, Andrew published an FAQ explaining the how, the why, and the wherefore.]

My list is below; I am missing 37 items, most of which I’d be happy to try if given the opportunity. There are a few that I wouldn’t rush to eat, but none that I couldn’t swallow if someone’s life, honor, and/or feelings were at stake.

And of course, if you don’t have a blog, you can still play along, with a good old pencil and some paper — care to share your results? And/or items you think should be added to, or removed from that list?

Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.