I cannot think of a sweeter return of French Friday than to share with you Parisian blogging pal Amy Thomas’s new book Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate). I met Amy in October 2009 at the Paris Bloggers Meet-up I helped organize with Erica of Haven in Paris. I knew about her blog God, I Love Paris, but as I don’t actually live in Paris, I was not aware of her full “story,” but I got a peek at it when she guest-posted here writing about her Passion for Paris.
I knew from reading her blogs (besides writing God, I Love Paris she also writes Sweet Freak) that she was writing a book so when it was completed and Amy reached out to me to read it, I was thrilled. Thrilled and voracious as I read the book in a single day. Once I picked it up I could not put it down! Not sure if I wanted to get through all the desserts or see what happened to Amy, in either case, I could not get enough. That and I discovered many places that I need to visit on my next trip to Paris!
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I grew up in a family that enjoyed sweets. They were always somewhere in the house and although as I have aged I now prefer more savory things to sweet, you still cannot tear me away from anything made with dark chocolate. I thought I considered myself a sweet tooth but with the dedication of someone like Amy I see that I was mistaken. Amy is passionate about discovering, devouring and documenting the sweet treats wherever she goes and I don’t think I have seen anyone quite as devoted or enthusiastic. Personally, I am not sure why The Food Network has come knocking at her door yet!
Each chapter of Paris My Sweet explores a category of desserts or sweets in Paris (and New York) while at the same time she shares part of her life in the City of Light in parallel. Being an expat may seem glamorous (and there ARE tons of benefits and great experiences) but it can also be tough. When I was living in France blogs were a foreign concept to me, looking back now, if I had access to the blogging community and could reach out to fellow expats I know that they would have gotten me through some of my rougher patches. Amy’s book explores not only the sweet spots about living in Paris but she also doesn’t sugar-coat any of the downsides either. It is the perfect balance of sweet and salty.
I loved the whole book but there were two things in particular that really struck home. One was her descriptions of her experiences of visiting New York after living in Paris for several months. It is really hard to explain the surrealness that an ex-pat can feel when returning to the States after being away awhile. You are sort of stuck between two worlds. You feel like a foreigner in both places. It is an odd feeling and Amy’s experiences reminded me of my own and it felt good to know other people have knowledge of how that feels.
The other thing I really liked is that Amy was unapologetic about loving places that are the crème de la crème in their field on one hand and Hostess cupcakes on the other. Or that she can appreciate and even recommend places like Angelina’s (for some of the best hot chocolate in Paris) as well as La Coupole which is just an amazing historical experience (despite the fact that these days it is owned by a conglomeration of brasseries). These places get written off as too touristy or not worthy. But her approach is honest, authentic and completely unsnobby (and makes me feel better about my unbridled love for Thin Mints).
You don’t have to be a Francophile to enjoy this book. If you love desserts and heart-warming stories, you will devour it!
I asked Amy if she wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, things I wanted to know after reading the book and she was gracious enough to accept, so here is a little more from Amy:
[MWA] Since you are now back in New York, I think the must-ask question, which follows after the end of your book, is how or why did you return?
[Amy] At the end of the day, New York is home. But the nice thing is I now have two homes—in addition to New York, Paris will always be part of me and part of my life. But being close to my family and friends, being able to fully comprehend street signs and insurance forms, being able to crack a joke that actually earns some laughter is invaluable. I was just at a point in my life where these comforts weighed more than being wrapped in beauty, enchanted by elegance and seduced by the pastries of Paris were. It’s sort of tragic, actually.
[MWA] How do you go about researching places to visit to fulfill your dessert dreams?
[Amy] I’m a list girl. Whenever I see a reference in the newspaper or a magazine, on the web, in a book, or when I get a tip or referral from a friend, I write it down. There are still so many boulangeries, patisseries and salons de thé in Paris that I yet to get to!
[MWA] You gave us your Top Ten from Paris and New York, but if you had to go to a deserted island with only one item, what would it be?
[Amy] An edible item? I think a jar of Nutella. Then I could forage for bananas and coconuts and slather the fruit in that rich, savory hazelnut goodness and every day would be a treat.
Thanks Amy for answering a few more questions and writing such a delicious book!
The photo of Amy was taken by the talented Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland.