France | Life + Culture

Paris My Sweet

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.

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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!

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 too 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!

Desserts


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 of 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 description 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 a while.

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.

Macarons

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:

Amy Thomas photo by Lindsey Tramuta

[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, and 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. 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 have 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.

Paris-My-Sweet-by-Amy-Thomas

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.

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38 Comments

  1. Not entering the giveaway but what a great interview 🙂 I just dfinished th ebook and I, too, could relate to so much of what Amy was saying, having lived in Paris for nearly 6 years. I think everyone should read this book 🙂

  2. My favourite dessert is Pierre Herme’s ispahan macaron dessert. Too bad I can’t find anything remotely close to it in TO?! Sniffle!

  3. My favorite dessert is a chocolate fondant from La Boulangerie in San Francisco. It is about 4 bites of dark chocolate decadence and an enjoyable treat until the next time I am near La Boulangerie or one its many branches.

    Jennie

  4. My favourite dessert is definitely a well made millefeuille.. the delicate cream and the airy buttery puff pastry in between, always does it for me 🙂 Great review and interview by the ways! Greetings!

  5. Tarte au citron, hands down. They were a weekly indulgence (ok, daily some weeks) when I lived in paris, and now few and far between living in NYC. Great review and enjoyed your thoughts on reverse culture shock . Four years back in the states (but living with a Frenchie), I still feel stuck between two worlds (and two languages!)

  6. My favourite desert is “Tarte aux Fraises”: crunchy pastry, tasty custard, and fresh and healthy strawberries.

  7. Funny that the question is favorite dessert since I came across your blog looking for sweets to try while in an upcoming trip to Paris! Current favorite would have to be chocolate, in most any form.

  8. I gobbled the book up this past Sunday. In one day!! Such a sweet read, with a salty edge to it, just like some of the favorite desserts Amy mentions. I’m not here to win a book, but just to give my support and tweet about it to others. Thank you, Andi and Amy!

  9. Cupcakes of any flavour are my favourite dessert! And it’s because I love all things cupcake that I found your awesome blog 🙂 I follow @Sugar Daze & can’t wait to visit when I get to Paris for the first time in April! I’m a breast cancer survivor participating in the Marathon de Paris on 15th April to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation/breast cancer research. With all my other time in Paris, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the wonder, culture & delicious food – particularly sweet food 🙂
    So reading this book before I go would be a perfect tool for planning my itinerary!
    And I have a strong feeling that we three (Andi, Amy & Mwa) could very well be “soul sisters” as although I love my home town Sydney, a piece of my heart is in New York…& I’m preparing to leave a portion of it in Paris too.
    So glad I’ve found your blog!! xx

  10. Great article btw !
    As a Parisian myself, I enjoy (a bit too much) the delicious treats you can find here. If I just had to choose one or two, I would say either the amazingly good cupcakes from Scarlett’s bakery (11th district, any flavour is worth the trip), or the always tasty (and huge !!) “Tarte au citron meringuée” from “Le loir dans la théière”, a little tea place right in the middle of the Marais.
    Anyway, I was lucky enough to grow up with a dad who can bake almost anything, hence the sweet tooth 😀

  11. My Favorite dessert is Tarte au Framboise. Every trip to France includes at least one or two or SEVERAL lol. The book sounds Amazing too.

  12. Sooo many favourites, but right now my top dessert is a mousseline. It’s like an éclair, but with twice as much chocolate cream filling. AMAZING.

    Read so many great reviews of this book now. I can’t wait to read it!

  13. Sounds like a fun read. My family loves sweets too! I like the blending of the travelogue with the taste treats! It definitely invites you to try new things.