Chocolate & Zucchini newsletter // September 2017 edition
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Oh, what a wonderful summer this has been!
Did you have fun? I hope you did.
Summertime in Aveyron
Maxence, the boys and I had a marvellous summer vacation in July: we are juilletistes, the French term for people who take their summer break in July, as opposed to aoûtiens who take it in August. Don't you love that we have words for that?
We spent out summer vacation in Aveyron, a beautiful low-mountain region three hours north of Toulouse, and we loved everything about it. We rented a house with a gorgeous view of an untouched valley and a vegetable garden where we were welcome to pick zucchini and tomatoes and kale.
We visited medieval castles and organic farms, we rented boats to chill on lakes, we mini-hiked, we barbecued, we took part in village meals cooked in 15th-century woodfire ovens and served in barns on long communal tables, we filled our lungs with fresh air, we made friends, and we came home happy and a little tan.
August Bliss in Paris
We returned at the beginning of August and, save for a quick trip out to my parent's house in the Vosges, we got to enjoy most of the month in a blissfully empty Paris. Did I ever tell you how much I love it here in August?
It's very quiet, as most Parisians are on a beach somewhere. The (few) places that are still open are not very busy, and those of us who are around share knowing looks of "Can you believe we have the city to ourselves?"
And from a work perspective, August is my time to reflect and strategize and plot fun new projects with very few interruptions from the outside world. What was August like for you?
Tasting Paris on Pre-Order!
One of the things I did do in August was read through the first-pass pages of my upcoming cookbook, Tasting Paris: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local. The first-pass stage is the first time I see proofs of what the book will actually look like in the end: all the artwork in place (gorgeous photos by Nicole Franzen!), my recipes and side bars and stories all laid out. Very exciting! If you follow me in Instagram, I will continue to show you the behind-the-scenes in my Insta Story.
And I'm thrilled to announce that the book will come out on March 20, 2018 (Spring day! Good omen, right?) and it is already available for pre-order! Obviously the cover on there is still a temporary one, but we have the final design now and I will be sharing it with you soon.
Tasting Paris will be first published by my American publisher, available in North America and everywhere else English-language books are sold. We will be presenting the book for foreign publishers to pick up translation rights, and I'll keep you posted on that as well.
Things That Make Me Happy
• Do you ever wish you had more time to read nonfiction books? I am loving the Blinkist app I've installed on my phone: it's an app that allows you to read (or listen to) a 15-minute summary of nonfiction books. If you're like me, interested in a million different things with only 24 hours per day, this is a fabulous way to get a feel for those books and decide if you'd like to actually purchase them and go deeper.
The free version gives you access to a different title each day; there is a paid version that allows you to take your pick anytime among the entire selection of 2000+ books. It's free to sign up for a trial version. Have you tried it yourself?
• I've long wanted to work on my voice to make it sound as rich and smooth as possible, and to avoid voice fatigue when I record my podcast, when I run walking tours, or when I give talks. I recently watched the documentary on Tony Robbins and got curious to know who his voice coach is.
It turns out to be a guy named Roger Love, who has an online course called The Perfect Voice that I signed up for. I am loving his teachings, and from doing the daily vocal exercises — just ten minutes + fun to do with the kids! — I am already hearing an improvement. We'll see when I record my next batch of podcast episodes!
• Speaking of podcasts, I want to recommend two that are all about Paris. Oliver Gee's The Earful Tower covers a wide range of topics about living in Paris (and France in general). If you want to listen to episode 17, you'll hear me share my least favorite word in the French language!
The second podcast is The New Paris, co-hosted by my friend Lindsey Tramuta, and this is a companion podcast for her remarkable same-name book.
• For my monthly museum challenge this summer, I visited the Château de Messilhac in July while on vacation, and then went to see the David Hockney exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in August. I was especially taken with his double portraits, and his astonishingly expressive ink portraits.
• For my monthly poem challenge, in July I memorized Belle Lune d'argent by Jean Mauréas and for August I chose Sylvia Plath's haunting Mirror. Any poem you're currently resonating with?
• All summer long I have toted around this gorgeous Clea bag from French brand Petite Mendigote and it is amazingly convenient to stuff all kinds of things when you're out and about, especially with kids.
(August 22, 2017)
It all started with this photo on Gena’s Instagram feed. Gena is the author of the excellent blog The Full Helping, and she has long extolled the virtues of the vegetable nori roll as a quickly and easily assembled snack: her site offers almost a dozen examples, including this latest […]
(August 16, 2017)
An American friend once explained to me that nobody ever locks their car in her small town… except when it’s zucchini season. Leave your door unlocked then, and you risk coming back to find a crate of zucchini left on your passenger seat. You see, zucchini plants grow with supernatural […]
(August 8, 2017)
Every summer when the good local tomatoes arrive, I think I will never ever get enough of them. I picture myself diving into a ball pit filled with tomatoes and paddling about for hours like kids do at IKEA. But then after a few weeks of tomato frenzy, I am […]
(July 25, 2017)
These days our produce guy is all about tomatoes — big and small, ribbed, smooth, or pointy, red, yellow, green, or pearl — and at the rate I’m going, I am bound to turn into one very soon. I’ve been making tomato salads and sandwiches like they’re going out of […]
(July 18, 2017)
Yogurt Cake is a staple of French home baking: it is very easy to make and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like it. What’s notable about the method is that it calls for two (half-cup) tubs of yogurt, and you then use the empty tubs to measure […]
(July 11, 2017)
I am coming to you today with the beverage that will keep you cool and hydrated and energized throughout the summer. It is a sparkling honey ginger lemonade that I make with fresh ginger — infused in hot water for a few minutes — and fresh lemon juice, sweetened lightly […]
(July 4, 2017)
If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of a picnic, but in practice, when someone throws the idea up in the air on a Friday night, in this beautifully spontaneous way people do, your Inner Grump awakens (“ugh, so much to organize, I have zero ideas, who’s going […]