Imagine having a job that assigned you to Paris for two years. If dreams can come true, the did for Amy Thomas because she indulged in the City of Light's most fabulous chocolates and pastries for a year, or more while working on Louis Vuitton's advertising campaign. She writes about this year of hardship in Paris My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate). While I don't live and die for chocolate, I DO love all things Paris. Probably not as much as Thomas does/did. But, I can live vicariously through her, at least.
In thirteen chapters Thomas tours would-be tourists through Paris's chocolates, bonbons, cupcakes, macarons, cakes, cookies, madeleines, muffins, carrot and banana cakes, and whatever else she encounters. Recently reloacted from New York, much of what she writes compares Parisian trends to New York trends, and so this book could be useful for those with eyes for the Big Apple as well.
Even though cupcakes are so "over" you'll find them on every corner of NYC. She mentions Beyond Magnolia, Buttercup, Billy, and Sugar Sweet Sunshine. But also says that when you stand on a corner watch out for cupcake trucks--CupCake Stop. Paris boasted four or five shops such as Cupcakes & Co., Berko, Synie's Cupcakes, and Sugar Daze and Sweet Pea Baking.
But what's really valuable about Thomas's book is the context she provides. So, if you didn't know the backstory on Magnolia Bakery and how its former manager left to open his own near replica, then you might learn a thing or two. But, that's a NY tale, not Parisian. So while there are some NY tales, most of it is Parisian based. While exploring Paris she blogged about it too and shared all her new finds with the world at large.
The terrible thing about the book is that I want to sample everything Thomas writes of. And can't. Must travel to Paris. And that's the one thing I truly hate about yummy food books: Reading about buttery croissants and then being unable to try one for myself. Thomas has a keen eye and nose for the best combinations of flour, sugar, and eggs.
Thomas mentions the typical Parisian frostiness and how impossible it was making friends. Eventually she found her place with a group of expats. But then a large decision loomed: Spend another year in Paris, or return to New York? Her priorities changed while she lived there, and New York wasn't as appealing as when she left it. Yet, she didn't feel as though she belonged in Paris 100 per cent, either. What to do?
Deciding where her heart and where her life belonged sent her into a lengthy list of either-or questions and answers. But you'll have to read the book to learn her ultimate decision.
Sidebars at the end of each chapter list her picks for shopping for the best chocolates, pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. and a full list of Paris and New York bakeries with addresses, phone numbers, and websites precede the index.
The color map illustrations of NY and Paris spots Thomas recommends on the front and rear flyleaves by Gary Hovland lend the book a delicious je ne sais quois!