Elizabeth Bard has written a book to make me sigh with happiness. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes (NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2010), is a very snappily-written memoir of how this native New Yorker fell in love with her future husband, his family and his country. From the grace with which he dealt with a splat of pigeon poop while on a romantic stroll with our author, to his joie de vivre in cooking for his lady on a cramped apartment hot plate, attending tap dancing camp and film studies conferences, and tenderly caring for his ailing father, I have to say I fell in love with Gwendal too.
Bard writes with plenty of panache about her faux pas and discoveries about her new country. She learns not to use the word "plaisir" interchangeably with "pleasure", as the former has some sexual connotations. She learns how to correctly bargain while shopping in the Parisian food markets. And perhaps most importantly, she learns how to navigate French culture as an ex-pat American. I particularly loved her observations about the snits and spats that she and Gwendal went through in their wedding preparations:
"One of the great gifts of an intercultural relationship is that when you fight, you never quite know if you are mad at the person, or at their culture: Is he really too bum-ass lazy to call back the band at eight p.m. on a Monday evening (are they in the middle of dinner?), or is he just being French? Is she bombarding me with lists and timetables and questions about the color of the wax used to seal the invitations because she is a manic control freak (or General MacArthur's granddaughter), or is she just being American?" (p. 137)
This wonderful book is the current selection of The Cook the Books Club, which is being run this time round by my blogger buddy, Johanna, of Food Junkie, not Junk Food. At Cook the Books, we read a different foodie novel or non-fiction book every two months and then post a roundup of participant's thoughts about the book and any recipes inspired by our reading. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun (deadline is May 27 to submit a post) and I am delighted to report that our esteemed author, Elizabeth Bard, will be serve as our guest judge to read through the submissions and announce the winner of the much-coveted Cook the Books Winner's badge for his or her blog.
I have a few dog-eared pages in Bard's book for delicious recipes that I will make when various edibles come into season: Goat Cheese Salad with Fresh Figs (p. 100), Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint (p. 160) and Melon with Port (p. 290), but I had to run out and splurge on a jewel box of red raspberries to make Raspberry Financiers (p. 87), rich little tea cakes stuffed with butter and ground almonds and topped with a perfect raspberry that melt into your mouth. This recipe was terribly easy to make gluten-free. I substituted brown rice flour for the regular wheat flour called for in Bard's recipe and my family was delighted with the sweet results.
I made one batch in my muffin tins (sprayed with vegetable oil first) and then one batch in my dollar store find of the decade, a madeleine pan. Unfortunately, I thought the madeleine pan was non-stick (it isn't) and didn't use the cooking spray, so I had to dig out these delicate little financiers with a butter knife so they are the crumbled up examples in the photos. (And check out my second example of "upcycling" some of my thrift shop china and glassware into this triple-tiered cake stand.)
I am love with these little French dainties and hope to make some other financiers soon. I may try these other gluten-free examples from some other wonderful bloggers:
Apricot and Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes
from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef
Blackberry and Vanilla Bean Financiers
from Une-deux Senses
Hope to see you at the Cook the Books roundup after our May 27 deadline. Next up after "Lunch in Paris" is Sarah Addison Allen's magical debut novel "Garden Spells".