Being from Montpellier, coming to Paris always leaves me a bit confused. This is the type of city that you love and hate at the same time. How can this crowded and noisy city can be so charming?
What I hate the most is taking the underground in Paris. Everybody seems to be running in the corridors like they were fighting for their lives, especially on Friday evenings. Your choice seems to be to run as well but run the risk of getting lost because you have no idea where you are going or walk quietly but the Parisians might walk all over you. I am not even speaking of the RER, that line is a complete disaster. I usually feel more like a squeezed fish rather than a human being when I’m on the subway. For me, riding the bus is much nicer and you can sight see at the same time.
The second thing I dislike about Paris is speaking with a Parisian about the provinces (the country). A true Parisian is somebody born in Paris who still lives in Paris, and when I talk to them they look like they feel sorry for me when I admit that I live in another region. But in fact, more than 50 million of French people live outside of Paris!
I am not trying to be rude. Not every Parisian behaves this way. Most of them are actually quite nice. It is true that sometimes a French person will not help you to find your way because they don’t want to speak English with you, in reality that’s because they are ashamed of their strong French accent. If a waiter seems brusk, it doesn’t mean that they do not like foreigners, it is just that they dislike everybody. They don’t have an easy job, you know, so try to be kind.
What I love about Paris is the streets full of stores, shopping in the Marais, drinking a delicious cocktail in Saint-Germain during happy hour and finishing my day finding a typical Parisian bistro in the area.
I am full of sweet memories of Paris. Every school holiday when I was growing up, I would travel up from Montpellier to spend time with my grandparents and they still live in a village 40 minutes from the capital. My fondest memory was an afternoon tea with my grandfather that we’d take after walking all over town and through the beautiful Luxembourg gardens. We would often stop by Dalloyau (2 place Edmond Rostand) one of the best Parisian tea room at that time for a cup and a pastry.
Maybe my passion for baking and cooking came from those moments.
Do give my Almond fig tart recipe a try. It is delicious and for me embodies all that I love about Paris.
Almond fig tart recipe
- 12 figs
- 250 gr. of flour (1 cup)
- 225 gr. of butter, 100 gr. of melted butter +125 gr. of diced butter (15 tablespoons: 9 melted + 6 diced)
- 80 gr. of powdered sugar (1/3 cup)
- 100 gr. of white sugar (just shy of 1/2 cup)
- 200 gr. of almond powder (just over 3/4 cup)
- 3 tablespoons of milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
Wash figs and cut lengthwise in two parts. Reserve.
For the pastry base, mix flour, 125 gr. of diced butter, egg yolks, milk, powdered sugar and one pinch of salt with your hand until your obtain a homogeneous pasta. Spread on a greaseproof paper and put in your pie dish. Prick with a fork.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Seed vanilla pod. Mix white sugar with 100 gr. of melted butter and almond powder using a spatula. Add 4 eggs and vanilla seeds. Mix again to obtain almond cream.
Pour almond cream in your bowl and put figs on top.
Bake for 40 minutes. Monitor baking process after 30 minutes.
Natacha Gajdoczki hails from Montpellier and is the creator of the French Girl Cuisine Blog.
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