Are French Fries and French Toast French?

It is unclear where French fries originated. Both the French and Belgians have claimed ownership of the invention, which is no surprise given their close proximity to each other and the common language.  Belgian journalist Jo Gérard references the popular side dish in his family manuscript from 1781, stating that in the Meuse Valley (present-day Belgium), potatoes were often deep-fried. They had a custom “of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer…”

Andouillettes? No, Thank You

My trip to France in 1979 opened my eyes to a whole new world, especially with regard to French cooking. Raised in a humble family with very few extravagances, we rarely splurged on anything, including food. Madame Dubois, my patron at the Château de Montclair, and her mother, Madame Moulon, introduced me to some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. There were, however a few dishes I would rather forget.

“Le Petit Prince” Returns

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My husband and I recently moved to a smaller home in Arizona and this required lots of downsizing. As I rummaged through old boxes, sorting “keep” piles and “give away” piles, I stumbled across my copy of Le Petit Prince from my stay in France in 1980. My heart lurched as I picked up the well-used book, turned to the first page and discovered  an inscription — long forgotten — from my love interest in France. 

French Illusions Series’ Audiobooks Now Available

Announcing the launch of my audiobooks, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley and French Illusions: From Tours to Paris. It’s so exciting to hear my books come to life!

Cherished Memories

We all have memories we cherish, and for many of us, these memories revolve around our childhood. My mother loved cooking more than anything else in the world and she would spend hours in her kitchen preparing meals for the family. My brother very much appreciated her efforts, but alas, I was a very picky child. No amount of coaxing or pleading would open my mind to her “healthy” recipes, so she often prepared separate meals for me (so I wouldn’t “starve”). One of my favorites was palačinke, better known as crepes.

Luscious Libations from the Loire Valley

When I worked as an au pair in the Loire Valley in 1979, I sampled many fabulous wines, from Sauvignons to Cabernets. Once, as I strolled through the farmers market in the Loire Valley, I sampled unfermented new wine. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, chronicling that event.

Award Contests – Yea or Nay

I’ve entered my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, in two contests.

In the spring of 2014, I paid $89 and submitted my book to the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Contest.Later that year, they notified me that I won the Bronze Medal in the “Non-Fiction Travel Category.” There was no monetary prize for this award.

Fabien the Dog

Several readers have asked about the dog who lived at the Château de Montclair during my stint as an au pair in 1979. Fabien was an endearing, scruffy, shepherd mix who lived outdoors, except in the winter months. The children, especially Antoine, loved the dog, but most everyone else either ignored him or shoved him aside. Some days, he was a “hazard” and this excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley depicts this sentiment perfectly. In this scene, Marie (a domestic helper at the chateau) and I are tending to the laundry.

A Love Affair with French Bridges

In my opinion, France has some of the most remarkable bridges in the world. Here are four of my favorites, three of which are located in “The City of Light.”

Memoir Nightmares

memoirsI’ve often wondered how the main characters in my memoir, the Dubois family, would feel if any of them picked up a copy of French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I worked as an au pair for Madame and Monsieur Dubois in France in 1979. In 2007, when I decided to write my memoir, I searched the internet using their real names and found nothing. No mention of them at all. Another search using the name of their chateau produced zero results, so with trepidation I progressed with my project. Five years later, when I published my memoir, I revisited the subject of how the Dubois family might react to my story. I had changed the names of everyone I met in France and followed my diary religiously, but I still worried about the reaction of the Dubois Family. My name was on the cover, after all, and I was sure that Madame Dubois still cursed the day she took me in. Read my book and you’ll understand.