Interlude

Bastille Day

Bleu Blanc Rouge

[Blue, White, and Red]

Today is the French national holiday, known in the English-speaking world as Bastille Day, but simply referred to as le 14 juillet in France.

I wish I could offer some sort of culinary tradition tied to this holiday, but as I explained in this past post, there is none: the celebrations revolve mainly around fireworks, military parades (I had to interrupt the typing of this post to watch the planes cross the sky above us, on their way to the Champs-Elysées), and dances. There may be grilled merguez vendors on the sidewalk here and there, but that’s about it.

That’s not to say, however, that one can’t have a blue, white, and red lunch to mark the occasion: something tomato (say, a salad of coeur de boeuf tomatoes), something dairy (such as a Bordier yogurt from Saint-Malo), and something blueberry (ideally, a blueberry tart).

Joyeux 14 juillet! How are you going to celebrate?

Croissant Religieuse Cupcake Wallpaper

Cupcakes (green)

Inspired by the brush tutorials that Delphine has published on her ever delightful blog, I have whiled away a few air travel hours drawing three edible wallpapers* to be used as a background on your computer desktop**.

(Please note that these backgrounds are for personal use only and not for republishing. If you wish to use them on your website, myspace page, etc., please contact me for permission.)

After the jump, you’ll find the cupcake wallpaper, the croissant wallpaper, and the religieuse wallpaper. Each of them comes in three shades, so you have nine to choose from. Enjoy!

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C&Z turns 4

C&Z turns 4!

I have to admit that the C&Z anniversary takes me by surprise each fall: I was drifting off to dreamland a few nights ago when I was seized by the sudden worry that I had let the day slide by unnoticed. I jumped out of bed, checked the calendar — all right, four more days to go — and resumed my dozing activities.

It’s not that the world would self-pulverize if I forgot, but it has become a tradition of mine to take this anniversary as an opportunity to look back on the weeks, months, and years since the birth of Chocolate & Zucchini, and indulge in a tall cup of thankful thoughts, topped with whipped joy and multicolored flecks of vertigo.

What this blog has done for me over the past four years, the places it has taken me*, the people I’ve interacted with, the things I’ve learned, the flavors I’ve tasted, the friends I’ve made — these blessings continue to amaze and fulfill me, making me feel happy and alive every day, which is all I wish upon anyone.

Above all, it is you, readers of C&Z, that I want to thank: this blog wouldn’t amount to much if it weren’t for you, your visits, your words, and your support. Thank you.

If you happen to be in Paris on Tuesday, October 9th, and want to join us and celebrate, it will be my pleasure to thank you in person. We’ll be at Floors, a great bar and diner that has just opened at 100 rue Myrha in the 18th (M° Anvers or Château-Rouge / map it!), starting from 7pm for a pre-dinner drink, and will stay on to eat there afterwards. (And I will have my trusty sharpie with me, so if you bring a copy of the C&Z book, I will gladly sign it for you.)

* And it looks like it may take me as far as Australia next year! Could I be more thrilled?

C&Z turns 3!

Macaron Violette Chocolat

A little over three years ago, over a dinner of shabu-shabu, I mentioned to Maxence that I was considering starting a food blog. “I think you should go for it,” he said. “But it’s going to take up a lot of my time, and I worry that I might tire of it after the honeymoon phase,” I replied. “I think you should go for it,” he said. A few days later, after a few evenings spent playing around with blogging tools and html templates, Chocolate & Zucchini was born.

Starting the blog was a small, trivial decision to make, but it is one that changed my life. It may sound a bit grandiose when I put it this way, and yet how else could I put it? How I think of myself, how I picture my future, what occupies my thoughts and my work hours, whom I get to meet and interact with, what I reply when people ask “So, what do you do?” (in French: “Et tu fais quoi dans la vie?“) — all of these elements have gradually shifted, making me happier by the day. This is all thanks to C&Z and thanks to you, so thank you.

To thank my blog properly I bought this violet and chocolate macaron from one of my favorite pastry shops (Aurore-Capucine, 3 rue de Rochechouart in the 9th). I placed it next to my laptop and waited. After a while it became obvious that the blog wasn’t too interested, so I took the liberty to eat the macaron on its behalf: thin crackly shell, chewy-creamy filling, smooth chocolate ganache, rich almond flavor, tingly hints of violet — oh yum.

And to thank you properly and in person, I would like to invite those of you who will be around on October 11th to join us for a Paris get-together. The plan is to meet in early evening at Le Takbo, an arty-friendly bistro in my neighborhood: we’ll have drinks, we’ll chat, and if we get hungry we can get something to eat there. No need to RSVP, just come as you are, on your own or with a friend or with a pet of your choosing.

Details (where the devil is, in case you need him):
When? Wednesday, October 11th, 2006.
What time? Starting from 7:30PM.
Where? Le Takbo, 52 rue Condorcet in the 9th (01 48 78 39 59).
Closest métro stop? Anvers (line 2).

In Remembrance

Five years ago today, I boarded a flight from Paris to San Jose. I was returning to my apartment in California after spending some time with my family and friends in France.

Little did we passengers know what horrifying events were taking place as we were flying over the Atlantic. Mid-flight, we were told that there had been terrorist threats against the US — a gross understatement, presumably to avoid panic attacks –, that all American airports were closing down, and that our plane was diverted to Calgary, Canada.

Stranded in Calgary for a few days, feeling cold and lonely with my heart in my throat, I had plenty of time to watch in disbelief as the same images appeared on television, again and again. Plenty of time to reflect on what had happened, but not nearly enough to make sense of it. Even five years haven’t been enough, really.

I won’t add to the chorus of political analysis of this gruesome day and its world-changing consequences, but I did want to say that I am right there in the ranks of those who remember.

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