- or - WHY TO TRAVEL WITH AT LEAST ONE EMPTY SUITCASE
This expat living – and baking – in France took a short trip to New York City. As on every trip back home, I knew that I would need to get in a little shopping : books, cookbooks and, of course, grocery shopping and shopping for baking supplies.
Living in France does indeed offer a cornucopia of amazing ingredients, spices and all kinds of shaped baking pans. As the lovely Ashley of Culinary Wannabe wrote to me : “I’m so surprised you can’t find (fun baking supplies) in France. I thought France was the home to all things pastry. I know I certainly ate enough of them when I was over there!”
She is right : France is famous for her pastries; éclairs and St. Honoré, Paris-Brest and Bavaroise, choux and macarons, gem-like delicate fruit tartlettes and layers of paper-thin pastry filled with cream. But pastry in France is very traditional and very formal. One walks into almost any good Pâtisserie in France and one knows exactly what one will find. Chefs Pâtissiers are now so creative and contemporary, following the trends we read about, using spices and teas and flavors never tried before in French pastry, but the basics have stayed the same.
And that good old American humor is absent. Funny-shaped cookies? Cake layers piled perilously high, slathered with different flavored creams and wildly decorated? No, I had to return to the US to find what I wanted and at a reasonable price (everything I did buy in NY that I knew I could find here was at least half the price).
So what did I find? Cookie cutters; wonderful flamingo and palm tree shaped cutters for when I am in that Florida mood; a guitar cookie cutter for my guitar-playing son and a moose-shaped cutter to honor my Mudflats friends. An utterly frivolous purchase of a Checkerboard cake pan set. A very clever set of mini loaf pans for gift time. And of course, colored sugars. If these can be found in France I would love to know where! Blue and red, gold and multi-colored. Even tiny lips in red sugar! Beautiful!
And cupcake paper cups galore! Shiny silver and covered with hearts, stripes and balloons and some even a bit more elegant. Laugh if you will, but who dares take away my baking pleasure by saying that I am utterly crazy or just plain wrong? We all love a bit of frivolity, and for those of us who receive so much enjoyment from baking and creating, from offering and sharing, these doo-dads make it all just a little bit more fun, allow us a little bit more hilarity and zest and a lot more room for expression and surprise.
As for the rest : flavored rices and seasoning mixes for hubby, junk snacks for the boys – I mean, when we can eat an éclair every day, a Ding-Dong is just plain fun!
And candy for me! Easter candy, marshmallow peeps and chocolate covered anything, though at holiday time I hit the jackpot : chocolate covered coconut creams or caramel or marshmallow all in delightful Easter egg shaped treats (so, I don’t celebrate Easter! I still love the candy!). I absolutely love fine French handmade chocolates, but, well, we all love going home again!