Tea for Two (or more)

In an effort to keep my expenses low while maintaining a social life, I came up with the idea of throwing a tea party.  Hosted at my house with tea and a few snacks, it would be relatively low cost, low stress and still be able to catch up with friends.

The beauty of the tea party is that it can be scaled up or down to serve your needs:

  • half a dozen guests (or more!) or a simple tea à deux
  • casual dress, slightly fancy attire or themed vintage
  • a few cookies and finger sandwiches or petit fours, scones, soups, quiches and a large cake

For my first tea party, I kept things simple by inviting just two girlfriends (with a dress-up/vintagey theme) and limiting food to a couple scones (cut into smaller mini-scones), a few macaroons and a small fruit tart, along with several different variety of teas (avec some adorable tea infusers).

The table was dressed with a white cloth and some flowers along with some silver serving pieces I inherited from my grandmother while my girlfriends and I dressed in vintage-inspired outfits.  With Glenn Miller playing in the background, we had an absolute ball!

Based on the positive feedback, I’ve decided to keep this as a fun Girl’s Day activity going forward. It’s fun to dress up and play hostess, and definitely less expensive than going out!

For more ideas on hosting a tea party of your own, visit:

 

Book Review: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are

I’ve recently discovered my local library offers a wide variety of ebooks and audiobooks and I’ve been working my way through my Francophile wish list ever since.  My most recent download was one that had been haunting my list forever:  How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas. Imagine my delight to locate it within my library’s electronic stacks!

I was sadly disappointed.

The book can best be described as a collection of advice you might receive from the Carrie Bradshaw character in Sex and the City.  Tidbits that perhaps to some women seem charmingly quirky struck me instead as high-maintenance mind-games.  To wit:

“The Pariesienne already knows what she must think: the opposite of what you think, no matter what.”

In another scene, a woman on a first date immediately dismisses the gentleman from further consideration — even going so far as to begin planning her early exit from the venue — because he ordered the same entree as she did.

Pro tip: This is not charming. This is not quirky. This is a douchebag move, ladies.

If you were to use How to be Parisian Wherever You Are as your sole guide, you’d be forced to conclude that the Parisian woman is, as they say, a hot mess:

  • Emotionally unstable: “She can feel a sudden surge of sorrow or even hope for no reason at all….She doesn’t feel like talking and stays in her bedroom until the sun has set.”
  • Chaotic: “Disorder – and lots of it. A disorder so normal it may even become, through repetition, a new form of order”
  • Disingenuous: “The Parisienne lets the phone ring…she feigns surprise upon hearing his voice…she asks if she can call him back in five minutes…”.  One chapter even has the title “How to Make Him Think You Have a Lover.” Seriously? What is this — The Rules circa 1995?
  • Entitled: “[S]he leaves her car wherever she wants and acts like there’s valet parking, but feels persecuted whenever she gets a ticket.”
  • Inconsiderate: “People will no doubt be waiting for her at work…”
  • Insecure: “A Parisienne never hires a babysitter who is too pretty…”

And it goes on.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. It’s considered a classic within Francophile circles.  But as I described in La Vie Paris, my view of the French Woman / Parisienne archetype is aspirational: someone who embodies the qualities that I want to bring out in myself.  How to be Parisian Wherever You Are instead reads as a cautionary tale.  On the Hot/Crazy Matrix, the “Parisienne” would need a Hot axis score of 10+ to make up for the time, money, emotional energy and psychiatric treatment you’d need in order to endure such a self-absorbed and haphazard individual.

It’s possible the authors deliberately approached the subject tongue-in-cheek, intentionally skewering the French Woman paradigm with a more realistic (albeit exaggerated) slant.  If so, mea culpa.  I simply did not see the humor in it — although to be fair, I never enjoyed watching Carrie Bradshaw either.

TL;DR: Read How to be Parisian Wherever You Are for its entertainment value but DO NOT try this at home.

Food Friday: Leek Tart

I’ve been trying to introduce more variety into my lunches, which tend to default to a basic tossed salad with legumes.  At the very least I feel that a weekend can be made a bit more special with a slightly more gourmet meal.  To that end I decided to experiment with the Food Network’s Leek Tart.

I’m a very big fan of onion — as is The Mister fortunately! — so the idea of an entire savory pie based on cheese and onions appealed to me.   The best part of this type of meal is that it makes plenty of leftovers for quick meals during the week. Tarts pack in lunches quite well, too.

 

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The final product turned out delicious and somewhat lower in calories than I expected considering how rich it was. After calculating the ingredients in MyFitnessPal and dividing the sum by eight, each slice came in at a reasonable 293 calories.

The vast majority of these calories can be traced to the pie crust — I used a store-bought crust as I have yet to master that particular skill.  My next iteration of this recipe may experiment with phyllo dough or another less calorie-dense option. Ultimately, though, if a substitute significantly detracts from the finished dish, I’ll simply make do with a smaller portion of the original yummy recipe.

I served the tart with a salad of mixed greens, goat cheese, pear and crushed walnuts with a homemade white wine vinaigrette dressing. How’s that for class?

GET THE RECIPE HERE

La Vie Paris

So what exactly does “La Vie Paris” mean?

My intent is for it to translate as “The Paris Life” although to be fair I’ve probably mangled the phrase inexcusably.  To me however, La Vie Paris encompasses more than red lipstick and red wine. Rather it is a mindset, a way of life that impacts my behavior and even my way of thinking.

In my head, La Vie Paris is:

Continue reading “La Vie Paris”

Top Francophile Books

Over the past several years Francophilia has become all the rage with scores of books written about how to eat, dress and act like a French woman.  Bearing in mind that these books tend to use an archetype as the basis for their advice, following are my favorites of the lot thus far:

Readers will undoubtedly note that I have not included the classic that arguably launched the genre, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.  I have not picked it up yet but I did read her book French Women Don’t Get Facelifts. To be honest, it wasn’t particularly life-changing to me so I’m in no hurry to get the original.

What are your favorite Francophile-inspired books and other media?