Mastering the Art of French Eating (+ Giveaway!)

Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving in the US with my family for the first time in years. Since moving to Paris, I’ve enjoyed mixing cultural traditions. Franco-international-expat-American Thanksgivings have become my new norm – what fun!

Still, in a year of many blessings, it was a gift to spend this holiday with my family. And oh the food! I’m not sure gourmandise would be the right word for what went down as it was outright gluttony. I literally cannot remember the last time I saw (and ate) so much food. The dessert table alone was outrageous(ly good). There was pumpkin pie and pecan pie and apple pie and cheesecake and cookies and and and….

Mastering the Art of French EatingA long holiday weekend wouldn’t be complete without tucking into a good book, as well. I read a great one and I’m so excited I get to offer a free giveaway copy to one of you, too.

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband receives a three-year assignment in Paris it is a dream come true. He’s suddenly called to a new post in Iraq, however, changing drastically Mah’s reality of a new life in the City of Light.

Mastering the Art of French Eating blends food, travel, and gastronomic history. It’s a lovely memoir that explores the stories behind many of France’s signature regional dishes, from crepes to cassoulet, choucroute to boeuf bourguignon. It’s also a personal story of navigating a new country, battling loneliness, and learning lessons in both food and love.

The book has already gained much buzz, including being named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon and a best fall travel book by National Geographic Traveler. I’m delighted to offer a free copy to one lucky reader and to have Ann Mah on the blog for the occasion.

Mah’s foodie credentials are well-documented, so I was tickled when she decided to reveal a few of her guilty pleasures in the guest post below. It’s one of those truths of expat life: we’re blessed with the riches of our adopted land, but we certainly have odd cravings for home, too. I might just have experienced the perfect illustration while reading this book: I ate Thanksgiving leftovers and fell more in awe of the incredible culinary heritage of France.

Author Ann Mah

Author Ann Mah

Guest post

Paris is the home of Michelin three-star restaurants, the finest chocolatiers, award-winning fromageries, world famous pâtissiers, etc., etc. But when you live in the City of Light as an expat, you start to develop certain guilty pleasures, cravings for foods that are perhaps a little trashy, a little overpriced (or both) and, quite often, aren’t even…French. In this list, I reveal all…

1) Starbucks — I tell people I go to Starbucks for the Wifi and free bathrooms. The truth is, we buy all our coffee here. French roast, ground for a gold filter. It sure beats whatever they’re selling at Monoprix.

2) Parmesan cashews from La Grande Epicerie — These nuts are insanely overpriced. But, c’mon! Cashews dusted in grated parmesan and then roasted until golden and toasty? They are also insanely delicious.

3) Picard — Honestly, I love the entire store. But I’m especially crazy about the section called “les apéritifs,” which offers an array of puff pastry hors d’oeuvres. Pop a few dozen pigs-in-a-blanket in the oven and you’ve got dinner.

4) Michel et Augustin yogurt drinks – With labels featuring cartoon cows, it’s obvious these yogurt drinks are made for kids. But I love the version that’s perfumed with Madagascar vanilla, a perfect quick breakfast or afternoon snack. And it’s sweetened with pure maple syrup, which means it’s healthy, right?

5) Chips de pomme de terre, saveur cheeseburger – Cheeseburger-flavored potato chips? I buy these solely for the sake of novelty. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thanks, Ann!

To enter to win a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Eating,” leave a comment divulging one of your guilty pleasures by Tuesday, December 10 at noon EST.

(If you’re too embarrassed to confess, leave a “I want to win” comment anyway, though won’t it be more fun for us all to share? I’m a Picard girl all the way – no shame!)

UPDATE: Congrats to winner Karene!

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55 Responses to “Mastering the Art of French Eating (+ Giveaway!)”


  1. 1 Mariya December 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Parisian guilty pleasure: a chocolate eclair several times a week from my local boulangerie (plus I’m always hoping to catch one particular person working there)!

  2. 3 k_sam December 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    My guilty pleasure is an oreo-cookie dough blizzard from Dairy Queen whenever I go back to the US….I’m sure people are thinking “How can *that* be what you crave when you life in France??”, but there’s just something so tasty and satisfying about it!

    • 4 paris (im)perfect December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Haven’t thought of Dairy Queen in a long time but I loved it as a kid! I can definitely get behind the oreo-cookie dough blizzard. Yum!

      It’s true that it’s hard to explain to people why we crave these things. Heck, I still bring back boxed mac and cheese with me. Try explaining that in a country renowned for its cheese!

  3. 5 The Lapband Chronicles December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    My guilty pleasure in Paris are the honey and orange flower infused North African pastries–ma’amoul, baklawa, dziriate. These are just as representively French to me as éclairs, millefeuilles and tarte au citron. For my recent franco-american Thanksgiving dinner, I served a platter of these sweets in addition to the pumpkin and apple pie.

  4. 7 K L December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    guilty pleasure? mimosas every weekend! I can’t say no!

  5. 9 Liene December 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Oh, Starbucks and specialty coffees for me! Especially this time of year with all the salted caramel mochas!

  6. 11 Natasha December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Croissant for breakfast every day! Although I can’t say it’s a “guilty” pleasure because I don’t feel bad about it at all!

  7. 13 Sipa December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    My somewhat guilty pleasure is pretty unhealthy which Is what makes it guilty but it’s so primal for me to have chili cheese fries whenever I go back home to Detroit.

  8. 15 Lin Powell December 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Is the giveaway in Canada Too? One of my guilty pleasures is reading cook books with beautiful colourful pictures, even though I know I will probably never get around to making any of the delightful recipes from it. But then again, sometimes I surprise myself and try one. And sometimes it becomes one of my new family favourites.

  9. 17 jenniferbanash December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Nutella! I can sometimes polish off an entire jar with a spoon.

    I am not proud of this.

  10. 19 JAK December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    When I visited Paris my guilty pleasure was an almond croissant from the local patisserie in the Marais. It was gooey, very sweet, and completely delicious!

  11. 21 Diane December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    My guilty pleasure if Jack in the Box tacos.

  12. 22 Sandy Greenstreet December 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    My guilty pleasure happens at this time of year. What is it? It is an eggnog latte from Starbucks. I’ve tried this specialty holiday drink at other coffee shops but none compare! I’m just glad they are only available at this time of year!!

  13. 23 Erin December 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I don’t live in France, but whenever I’m there, I sure do go nuts for the pain au chocolat as soon as I arrive, and at least daily until I leave . . . that last one with tea in the airport is always blissful and bittersweet (:

  14. 24 Ashley-Marie December 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I wish I could say I have a Parisian guilty pleasure, but I’ve only been there once so far. So I’ll have to say my guilty pleasure is Lays Chile Limon chips — as a stereotypical SoCal resident who frequents the farmers market, makes her own meals, and tries to stay away from processed food, this is definitely not something I would normally eat… but it’s so addicting, so I enjoy it from time to time =)

  15. 26 Karin B December 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Guilty pleasure? It’s pretty ghetto, I gotta say. Lately I have had these weird cravings for Hot Tamales candies — something about the intense cinnamon flavoring is really doing it for me, and a big box is only a buck at the Dollar Store. They are vegan and gluten-free, although still made up of a lot of non-nutrient dense ingredients, lol. It’s hard not to finish the whole box in one sitting, although I usually also need a glass of water to go with them! Maybe there is a connection with my loving Sriracha Rooster Sauce, too. Hmmmm. I like things spicy, I guess. ;-)

    But there you have it. You got me to confess my guilty pleasure as I would love Ann’s book.

    I love Ann. I had the privilege of meeting her a couple of times in Paris and she is such a kind person to talk to. I am so glad this latest book of hers is having success. She deserves it!

    xx
    Karin

  16. 27 marimann December 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    My own version of Parisian chocolat chaud: hot coffee with a few sprinkles of gelatin and a large spoonful of cocoa powder!

  17. 28 carlrscott December 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    At the main entrance to my university there was an eclair stand that sold the biggest freshest most delicious pastries I’ve had for many years. One of those big creamy, crunchy, chocolate treats was often my breakfast on the way to class. Funny, I don’t feel guilty at all, a little peckish though.

  18. 31 JonathanLA December 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    my guilty pleasure is putting honey roasted macadamia nuts in my salads

  19. 33 renee December 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Guilty pleasure…. Junior’s delicious cheesecake! (from Junior’s in Brooklyn!) … and I’m not a huge cheesecake fan, it;s that good and with a simple fruit topping is the best.

  20. 35 I Say Oui December 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Guilty pleasure: eating a pastry before meeting friends for dinner because I get hungry before 8.

  21. 37 Devra Long December 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    duck confit; can’t get enough!

  22. 39 Susan carter December 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I don’t consider anything I eat in Paris a guilty pleasure & I’m walking all the time so it’s OK. At home, my guilty pleasure is popcorn (buttery) eaten with Sugar Babies – salty & sweet!

  23. 41 Karene December 3, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Nutella straight out of the jar. (You and Ann are two of my favorite bloggers! Loved today’s post :) )

  24. 43 Jolie Preau December 3, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Cheese, cheese, and more cheese! I’m giving up dairy, but made an exception over Thanksgiving and now I’m just wanting more, more, more…

  25. 45 Carolyn December 4, 2013 at 5:25 am

    MY guilty pleasure are Fritos

  26. 46 Bob Payette December 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    A slice of Carles Roquefort cheese and a glass of Sauterne wine. Oh my!

  27. 47 Kate December 5, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Oh my goodness, do I have to say? (Blushingly) A small McCafe chocolate chip frappe. Or frappe de pepites de chocolat? Over 500 calories in that sucker! Who can blame me when it has “rich mocha, sweet caramel, a hint of coffee, with added chocolate chips, all blended to perfection and topped with whipped cream plus a double drizzle of chocolate and caramel”? But I’m weaning myself–haven’t had one in at least three weeks!

  28. 48 Nicki Joseph December 5, 2013 at 10:07 am

    French toast on weekends :-) nickijoseph91@gmail.com

  29. 49 Jennie December 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    My new guilty pleasure is Starbuck’s Chocolate Chai Latte. I even bought a box of the chocolate chai base to make my own at home. Hope it is more than a holiday treat.

  30. 50 pretemoiparis December 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Happy holidays Sion!!! One of my guilty pleasures, happened one year, where over the course of three (maybe two) days, I ate the equivilant of an ENTIRE pumpkin pie. I have a slight weekness…. LOL!

  31. 53 Rose December 10, 2013 at 6:07 am

    I tend to eat pretty healthy, but once in a while I’ll crave junk food and my guilty pleasure is sweet onion and balsamic flavored Ms.Vicky’s chips followed by sour patch candies.

  32. 54 Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon December 13, 2013 at 4:26 am

    That would be cheese, but I am now thinking crêpes.

  33. 55 Liene K April 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Chocolate… Any kind really, but with peanut butter is better!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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