A Parisian Dessert

I’ve had a love affair with French cuisine for as long as I can remember but my first meal in Paris was not exactly lovely.

The meal came at the end of a two-hour walking tour of Paris that was preceded by a full day of touring Versailles on the very first day of a six-week college trip to France. I was tired, jet-lagged and starving but grateful my professor had finally stopped to let us eat. She picked a restaurant we found along on our route that featured a prix fixe menu. I remember the entree choices – in French, of course – were horse burger or fish.

I chose the fish.

It was the safe option. Or so I thought until it arrived whole from head to tail, eyeballs, bones and all. I spent more time picking out the bones than I did eating the actual fish. This meal did not bode well for the rest of my trip.

Fortunately, aside from a meal featuring couscous that left me with a terrible stomach bug, my culinary experiences in France were for the most part positive. My favorite lunchtime meal was brie and butter on bread. Simple. Inexpensive. And oh so delicious.

When I read Lunch in Paris* by Elizabeth Bard, a memoir of an American journalist’s love story with a French man and French food, I was excited to try one of the many recipes included in the book. Unfortunately, most include ingredients (like soft cheese and wine) not friendly to this pregnant mom. So, instead, I’ll share a Parisian dessert I used to make with my grandmother. We discovered it in a cookbook that I picked out at the library. I’m not sure if there is anything French about it, other than the name, but it was a favorite treat of mine when I was a kid just beginning to explore French cuisine.

Pears Helene

Chocolate syrup

Vanilla ice cream

Pear halves

Strawberry jam

Pour 1TBSP of chocolate syrup in a bowl. Top with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Place pear halves on top of the ice cream. Mix 3 TBSP of strawberry jam with 1 TBSP of hot water and drizzle on the pears.


*As a member of the From Left to Write Book club, I received a copy of Lunch in Paris for free. This post was inspired by this book and is not intended as a review. The ideas in this post are my own.

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  1. Ha! Horseburger. My mom accidentally bought horse when we were in Belgium (she didn’t speak French) and cooked it and cooked it and couldn’t figure out why it was staying red and not turning brown like beef was supposed to. I feel for ya.

    But ooo the pears sound good right now. I love the drizzle of the jam with hot water.
    Michelle recently posted..Point TakenMy Profile

  2. As a Kentuckian where we worship horses, it is frightening and sacrilegious to eat horses! But since my post on this book was about NOT being the ugly American and assuming our way is the right way to do everything, I better be gracious in my decision to refuse the horse burger.

  3. My husband always kids me about horse burgers, yuck! I still remember the 1st time I saw fish served in France and seeing the fish heads!
    Lisa recently posted..Enlightened and Inspired by Lunch in ParisMy Profile

  4. I have a similar love – Café Liègeois – coffee syrup topped with coffee syrup.

    Whole fish as been one of my favorite discoveries in France. I find it easier to cook, since the skin protects the flesh so beautifully. A bit of salt, olive oil and lemon, stick it under the broiler (5 minutes each side) and you’re good to go.

    My first horse steak experience was at my mother-in-law’s, there’s a horse butcher at her local market in St Malo. It was actaully delicious, very tender.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! I enjoyed your book and look forward to trying the recipes after the baby is born.

      And maybe I’ll give the fish and horse burger a second chance if I ever get back to France…but how do you get around the bones (in the fish)?

  5. oops, that should be coffee syrup topped with coffee ice cream!
    Lunch in Paris recently posted..A Long LifeMy Profile


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