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Outfits I remember well

This is by no means good enough photography to be a “fashion post”, but I couldn’t have a Paris-themed blog without some mention of the carefully crafted ensembles. Here are some that, for better or for worse, jumped out at me.

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(added for the synchronicity)


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My parents gave me a GoPro for Christmas this year, and I’ve been using it to film as I travel this semester. Unfortunately, I am a very slow and distracted editor, so it’s taken me much longer than it should to put together a 3 minute iMovie video from February. Anyway, without further ado:



Pics I emailed to my mom

Smelled pretty bad but photogenic so whatever

Smelled pretty bad but photogenic so whatever


Posing with toilet paper in the Sahara Desert because we had nothing else to pose with.



Fez-ian Friends



There’s not too much to this picture to be honest I just like our outfits. (We bought those matching “I AM A TOURIST” necklaces at the very first rest stop on our way to the desert.)



Wishing I had more meaningful pictures of Chefchouen, but the millennial-to-iphone ratio on our trip was too high to not leave with predominantly selfies.

Selfies in the Sahara: The Newest Addition to the Magic Treehouse Series

Selfies in the Sahara: The Newest Addition to the Magic Treehouse SeriesPics 

Performance versus Reality

For the past week, I’ve been traveling around Morocco (truly one of the most incredible countries I’ve ever seen) for the first few weeks of my spring break. Yesterday, I left Chefchouen, a small town in northern Morocco that is known as a blue city because all the buildings are painted blue to avoid the glare that white walls cause. As the color is ever-present and encompassing, the town is entirely overwhelming despite its tiny size.

What struck me most while there was the way the town cycles between performance and reality. In a film class I took once, we discussed how many experimental film makers try to create an alternative reality in their films that is so bizarre and engrossing that what is truly real begins to feel alien. The performed ideal becomes reality. (I find this pattern of performance becoming reality to be true in many aspects of life. I often remember it when eating foods with artificial food coloring. The true color of orange soda, for example, is so removed from what we expect that the artificial has become reality.)

The walls of all the buildings were covered in brightly colored woven fabrics, straw hats, and woolen dresses. They were clearly there for tourists to buy, and, in a sense, were a performance of culture. The feel of the city essentially became reduced to the way the city was perceived by outsiders, and the way the locals reinforced that image. My friends and I all bought “authentic” Moroccan harem pants and leather bags, but many of the people in the town our age wore bright track suits, a reflection, in fact, of a perception of Western culture. It felt like two notions- that of heightened Morocco and that of heightened U.S. were oscillating back and forth, tangentially influencing each other within the microcosm of Chefchouen.

Yet, the streets were not devoid of local residents, and these inauthentic goods were nonetheless a part of their experience of the city. In fact, I found it difficult to find a part of the town where these goods were not loudly displayed across the walls.  When the residents of Chefchouen recall their city, they will, of course remember the same blue walls that I saw and the same tourist-vendor relations that are so prevalent.

So, I left with a sense of confusion about how to perceive reality. As a tourist, you travel to experience something new and unusual, but with large-scale globalization, that is becoming more and more rare, which, I hypothesize, makes our performance of difference exaggerated. With unity and sameness comes a simultaneous impetus for change.


Why I feel proud to eat an entire baguette in one sitting and you probably do too

After class today, I bought a baguette to eat with dinner, but after my 30 minute walk home, it was totally, completely gone. Like, bag turned inside out, crumbs digging into my fingernails and giving me splinters, gone. So I started wondering WHY it is that the baguette is so easy, acceptable, lauded even to eat entirely in one sitting. If I told someone that I ripped up pieces of an uncut loaf of Wonderbread and gnawed on them for the entirety of my walk home, they would not knowingly smile and half-sing “Ahh, quintessential Paris!” or even “Ahhh, quintessential minimart in the middle of suburbia!”, which would perhaps be more fitting. They would raise their eyebrows, throw me a tight-lipped smile, and ask me if everything was ok in my life.

There is clearly something about the baguette that is desirable, maybe illogically so, but what? The thesis I’m working with (it’s paper-writing season, ya’ll) is that the baguette evokes all your senses in a way that is exciting, and, more importantly, distracting from what you’re doing, which is eating flour. Plain. And (presumably) alone. What’s more, it’s the “underrated senses” when it comes to eating- touch, sound, and sight- that are the ones subtly guiding you into blackout-eating mode. It somehow beats trend-foods at their own game, feeling implicitly (and incorrectly) nourishing without appropriating “exotic” flavors or mixing 3 different desserts and bacon into one bizarre final product.

The first part of the experience is sight. The color of a baguette is consistently golden like everything that is good in this world. It is impossible to look at a fresh baguette and not hear a hallelujah choir harmonizing “Artisinal!” to a Regina Spektor original melody.

Then, logically, comes touch. Since a baguette is always uncut, you have to rip it apart, which is marginally more work for your fingers than picking up a piece of sliced bread. But, there’s something about that action, the feeling of the crisp exterior cracking and the fluffy interior dismembering, that automatically feels rustic and worthy of a cinematic, bakeh close-up. It feels like you’re really working for your food, you know? You’re the farmer, and you’ve worked long days in the field milling the wheat that made this fresh, DIY chef d’oeuvre.

That sense of immediacy, of intimacy, paired with the loud crackling sound the crust makes when eaten results in a truly overwhelming and all-encompassing experience. The sound of chewing a baguette fills up your whole brain and pushes out any rational thoughts like  “Huh! Somehow I’m not hungry anymore.”

Look, we’ve all stalked our high school prom queen’s For My Kids Pinterest board. There’s no denying the charm   of quirky hand-crafted comfort foods. But even before desserts were moulded onto popsicle sticks, before South American grains were covered in dark chocolate, sprinkled in sea salt, and packaged as super foods, there was the baguette whispering wholesome to any unworthy proletariat ears willing to listen, somehow appealing without exploiting the conventional tricks of kitsch. And to this day, there it remains, stacked neatly in window displays on every street corner, convincing the average innocent bystander to brag about her bready baguette rendez-vous to friends and doctors alike as if was, in fact, going to help her at Sunday morning Bikram yoga. “Yes, I have heard that I can avoid overeating with a simple adjustment to 5 small meals of 3 almonds a day, and n-no I haven’t tried it yet, but I do regularly eat an entire baguette at once, so who’s the one investing in her future now?” Unlike sacks of party-size pretzel mixes, which I also routinely polish off, the baguette does not make me feel self-indulgent. It is not Paula Deen, reassuringly hugging me and saying everyone else is a mean bully, but a lean, serious Barack Obama, patting me on the shoulder saying, “I’m proud of you and all your accomplishments, Vrinda.”

The last two senses, taste and smell, you know, the ones usually associated with eating, are almost an afterthought. They aren’t working against the baguette, that’s for sure, but they really just exist to reaffirm your already-made decision to keep eating the whole damn thing. In fact, I was scarfing down the baguette so quickly today that I don’t even remember what it smelled like.  And the taste, well, I kind of forget what it tasted like, too, except intense dedication.

Which just solidifies the baguette’s position of power. It’s not really about the culinary experience. It’s kind of about the lifestyle blog-ness of it, but as I said, the baguette doesn’t feel satisfactory because you’ve made it with your own two hands or because it resembles a penguin or an abstract painting. It takes itself far too seriously for those kinds of childish comparisons. It’s about how the baguette is consistently unapologetic and assertive, a not-so-subtle symbol of the typical Parisian city slicker, cat walking pristine sidewalks in mod black wedges and a single-digit BMI. It’s about the way the whole world holds it’s breath and looks over to see what France thinks before doing or saying anything as if the whole country is the cool older sister with a driver’s license and great Spotify activity. And maybe it’s a little bit about how I’m a “Study abroad student”, constantly craning my neck around every corner to see if I can spot the Eiffel tower, trying to eavesdrop on middle schoolers’ complaints about poor cell reception on the metro.

My Dream Parisian Date

Bienvenue à Paris! The city of lights and love, Rugrats and rappers, cliches and crumbly croissants. While navigating a city as rich (culturally, of course, dietarily, yes, but cost-wise as well… good luck finding a use for that 5 euro note!) as Paris often feels daunting, I’ve been lucky to have a number of visitors over the past few months, which has been the perfect motivation to see the city, and which has turned me into a decidedly annoying tour guide spouting off any fun fact I think might be true (but usually isn’t…) at every corner. (“Did you know there’s a price ceiling on the baguette?” “This street is where Napoleon was born!” “Paris is commonly referred to as the Paris of Europe!” ). I’ve had great experiences  with all the friends who visited, but, as is expected, not everything went exactly as planned. So, I’ve curated my experiences from the past few weeks and compiled them into one highly-idealized dream date (romantic or platonic- never underestimate the power of a friend-date! Am I sounding like a self-help manual yet?)

Decide the day before to meet at 10 am at the Luxembourg. Bright and early for us 20-somethings! You’re in Paris after all! Productivity! Wholesome fun!

9:47 am- Wake up. Oops…

9:50 am- Begin drafting your “AH! Just woke up! I’ll meet you in 10! [No you won’t. Luxembourg is 20 minutes away.]

9:51 am- Get a text from your date before you even finish drafting your own saying “Sorry, I was up late watching Kim Kardashian Interviews…. Just woke up.” [Haha this is my dream world….]

10 am- Decide to meet at 12:30 because nothing good happens before noon.

12:37 pm- Finally meet up at the Luxembourg stop. Commence “Pastry Tour of Paris”. Be under no illusions- the tour will be self-guided, and will consist of you going to the first 5 pastry stores you see. You’re gonna be starving, as it’s past noon, and all you’ve eaten, most probably, is the raw pasta in your room dipped in Nutella. I have found that pastry stores are pretty consistently delicious, so this approach should work out well. I’ve visited a number of well-known bakeries throughout the city, but what’s made the biggest difference in the quality of the food is how recently it was baked, which is largely a matter of chance.

If you’re as unadventurous and easily satisfied as I am, I suggest getting the same pastry at every store, because eating 5 of anything at once is kind of funny, and also because it’s interesting to really understand one food very well. The best deal is the croissant, which is usually around a euro. (Ok, the best deal is actually baguettes, which are a euro for a lot more bread, but if you can eat five baguettes at once, you most definitely have a tape worm and you should deal with that issue before you go on a relatively insignificant date…) I have a theory that there are two basic types of croissants- The kinds that are crisp and flaky, and with every bite you hear a crunch  that sounds vaguely like “You’ve made it in this world” (Lol), and the kinds that are so drowned in butter that the layers of dough have been welded into one soggy, doughy delicious.  Prove me right? Prove me wrong? Whatever. If you have self-control and patience, you can take your 5 pastries and eat them in Luxembourg gardens, but you’ll be starving, so if not, that’s fine too. Finish your food first then  walk through the gardens, take some selfies and head over towards Saint Michael.

1:30 pm- Make your way towards Notre Dame. Stroll along the urine-scented banks of the Seine, professing your love for… air fresheners.

1:35 pm- Go into Shakespeare and Company and work on your best starving artist impression. Watch out for the cat upstairs. It’s weird. I have another theory- I think the people in charge of book placement make it so that you can’t walk more than two steps without seeing a book you know and can say a sentence or two about prominently displayed(The Great Gatsby is on like every other stand, for example). This makes you feel knowledgeable and worldly, and builds a sense of identity in all shoppers as serious book-readers, that, in turn, makes them want to buy more books than they normally would. While you’re in there, you find yourself having these great conversations about literature and life, and as soon as you leave, you realize you just reiterated everything your high school English teacher put on your 11th grade syllabus.

2 pm- Rent out some bikes (called Velib). This takes a bit of planning- you need to get a pass online beforehand. Then, bike from Notre Dame to Sacre Coeur. (There is no real reason for this specific route, I just did it the other day with my friends and it was the most fun I’ve had in Paris. Also, Sacre Coeur is touristy in the best way.)

2:45 pm- Navigate your way around people trying to sell you friendship bracelets and make your way to the top of Sacre Coeur. Don’t look at the view til you’re at the top! I make everyone I go with promise not to ruin the amazing view with less-amazing views. Walk around Montmarte for a bit, or, if you’re willing to part with 6 euros, do to the top of Sacre Coeur. I haven’t done this, but it looks awesome.

3:45 pm- Walk to Centre Pompidou (Yes, you CAN metro, but it’s only 20 minutes less and you’re missing out on some cool above-ground sights.)

4:45 pm- Either go into the museum or walk around the area depending on whether you and your date are shoppers or artistes, (I know, I know, there IS no binary, but sometimes you have to make a choice.) though after Shakespeare and Company, you may have had your fill of Parisian artiste for the day. Spend a few hours shopping or museum-ing until you’re hungry.

7 pm- Find the falafel that this area is famous for. Eat falafel. Stay as long as you want- no one’s going to kick you out, and you’re probably exhausted from this crazy day/date.

9 pm- After you’re sufficiently rested, metro to Le Motel, a bar in the Bastille area. Pick up some Cokes and other delicious junk food, which will come in handy later. I recommend Speculoos if you haven’t tried it yet. It’s basically gingerbread cookies ground up into a paste. Yup. The Bastille area is PACKED on the weekends, so you’ll have your pick of happening bars. (Not sure what the right word to use is here.. do people say happening?) I went once to Le Motel on a Sunday night, and it was empty and seats were really comfortable, which is kind of my dream “going out” scenario. On a Saturday it was packed, which is usually what one is looking for on a Saturday night, so that was fun too.

10 pm- Head over to Comptoir Generale, the coolest place I’ve been to in Paris. It’s a grand melange of things and I’m not entirely sure what any of them are, but I think there are poetry readings and other Shakespeare and Company-esque activities there during the day. Anyway, at night it’s a restaurant/bar/dance floor, which is absolutely amazing. The food and drink were delicious, and the music was absolutely incredible. They ask for a donation at the door, but you are free to give whatever you feel is fitting. Definitely get here early though, because there is often a long line, and they close by 1. Comptoir is on the canal, which is a cool area, so, if for some reason, tit isn’t your style, there are a bunch of other places to choose from.

12:25 am- Leave Comptoir and rush to the Metro to get to Trocadero at exactly 1, when the Eiffel Tower will light up for 5 minutes. What is important here is that you time this metro trip so that you’re RUNNING to get to Trocadero just in time for added dramatic, rom-com effect.

1 am- Marvel at the Eiffel Tower. You’re in Paris! Love! Lights! A Gossip Girl Montage!

1:05 am- OK, the tower’s done lighting up by now. Crack open those Cokes and the snacks and continue nervously talking about yourself and that “amazing Cracked article” you recently read (or whatever it is that socially adept people do on dates). Get comfortable, because you and your date are stuck together til the metro starts running again at 5:30. (Well, not really- you can always take a taxi home or walk, but where’s the romance in these useless facts, right?) Hopefully all goes well, and you can wait til 6 or 7 to see the sunrise and the unbelievably gorgeous blue of the Paris sky, which is truly a sight to be seen.

7 am- Go back to your apartment and mass text your 15 closest friends about your amazing life.

On cat walks and cat calls

Before coming to Paris for the semester, I invested in two pairs of heels that I imagined were going to be the height of fashion. (Because in the idyllic Shangri-La Paris I imagined, everyone dressed exactly like me and I could casually recount in typical Godardian soliloquy the “sunlight oozing onto my (perfect) hair like a slice of the decadent fromage I just ate on my picnic with Jean Luc Godard himself” without anyone calling me out on my unchecked levels of Tumblr and/or delusional).

I haven’t thrown out an article of clothing since the 7th grade (yes, I do still own that heinous gray-with-gray-writing “music in the parks” XXL Band T-shirt we all got when my middle school band won the best-sportsmanship aka worst band award for the third year in a row. This is not important.), so fitting myself into two suitcases was a bit of a challenge. But I did it, largely with those shoes as my guide. If I couldn’t create at least 3 outfits with an article of clothing that involved the heels, I didn’t pack it.

I realize just how ridiculous I sound. A life centered around shoes? Could there be a more trivial existence? And to that I say something about the Wizard of Oz and home and did you know those ruby slippers were auctioned off for like $1,000,000,000 and on the feet of some important people in history have been a pair of shoes and sponsored in part by Toms.
All jokes aside, the way we choose to dress is of course important, of course a dynamic conversation with the hundreds of other people, advertisements, and celebrities we run into and observe every day, and should not be discounted as frivolous, etc etc.
I must admit, I don’t often wear heels, but the times I have, they made me feel stylish, more put-together than my normal when-I-wake-up-you-can-see-where-I-was-sleeping-because-I-was-outlined-by-a-perimeter-of-breadcrumbs-from-sandwiches-I-fell-asleep-eating self, and, most importantly, empowered. As I am literally taller, I am more able to have a physically horizontal relationship with the people around me. Every step I take makes a distinct clacking sound, and the shoe becomes an extension of who I am and how I define my physical presence, which is taller, louder, bigger. I am the bionic woman, Inspector Gadget, part catwalk, part shoe, all awesome.
But I came to Paris, and a few things happened- First, I realized that my shoes don’t quite fit into the normal fashion here. Unlike the mod plastic-ey low-cut boots and classic black pumps that frequent the metro, my forrest green wedges and brown leather heels stand out. People stare at my feet rather than my face when they meet me. This realization was the first indicator of difference, of uncomfortability. The Paris I had imagined, that I felt comfortable in, was really just a projection of myself, a counterfactual constructed based on my unique experiences- one that assumed all the great parts of my American life and changed any semblance of difference I had ever felt so that I fit in perfectly. Unfortunately, reality necessarily falls short of imagination.
Then, my (female) friends and I had a few negative encounters with men on the street, often while wearing heels and dresses. We were whistled at, whispered at, yelled at, approached, even chased out of stores by men who felt our “feminine” heels and mere existences as women in the same space as them was an invitation. My friend was even pushed to the ground by a man when she wouldn’t talk to him. More than once, I have had to call a friend pretending to be busy and unphased by the unwanted and aggressive attention. I find myself reliant on my male friends, because cat callers respect the presence of other men in a way that they would never respect me as an autonomous woman.
Suddenly, high heels became a marker not of the power of my femininity, not a display of what I enjoyed and celebrated most about my identity and my body, but a reminder of how my woman-ness is often defined by someone other than myself. that displaying woman makes me an object for men to talk at. In heels, my stride is about the way my legs look to an outsider, not about where I’m walking, not what I want.
I am left wondering what kind of constructed Paris those men live in. Is it one where as soon as anyone expresses interest in something verbally, they get it? Can I, in their Shangri-La, walk around saying “Subway Meatball Sub but seriously, no banana peppers this time or I’m switching to the wish-fulfilling reality with more bars in more places.”? Amazingly, I fear this delusional perception of the world is actually the case. As a man I met at a party over the summer once seriously told me, women who don’t acknowledge his “compliments” are rude and unappreciative, and have earned his subsequent heckling. What’s even more incredible is that I found myself nodding, buying into his rhetoric until I thought about it again, alone, a few hours later.
And the worst past of catcalls from total strangers is these guys don’t even realize how cool my shoes are! This sounds both self-absorbed and unimportant, but really, what bothers me most (and what I suspect bothers most women), is the misplaced value judgement. What I always find myself wanting to say back is “Congrats! You chose a (subjectively) cool person to be interested in, but do you know that? You’re expressing interest in someone who’s favorite color is a tie between magenta and orange, who could show you a sick music video she was yesterday, who was excited to realize that q-tips have two sides because we have two ears. Did you know that?” A catcall flattens the receiver into his or her physical appearance, and the way that appearance is received by someone else.
Objectification is an easy word to use and a difficult concept to really talk about and believe in because every time one person cat calls at your bare legs, you begin to believe a little bit that everyone sees you this way, and if everyone sees you this way, then a world where someone is attracted to your personality, to the parts of yourself that are not the product of random gene sequences, is as imagined as a Paris where everyone wears the same shoes as you. As with the stranger at the party and the strangers on the street, it is incredibly difficult to believe in your own sense of relevance, in the importance of your favorite color or your thoughts, when so many other voices are telling you you’re only valuable for other reasons.
Further, when tour guides, parents, friends tell you “not to wear that” but never reassure that you should be able to wear “that”, objectification inexplicably begins to feel like your fault, your cultural illiteracy, your self-absorbedness, your shallowness. When our bodies are policed from the moment we enter schools where we are punished if our clothing and our bodies are “distracting”, it becomes difficult to imagine femininity as anything but the counterpart to masculinity.
It is a strange thing to feel your sense of self lifted from the physical limits of your body and defined by another person’s desire, but that is what began to happen during my first few weeks in Paris, and that’s what my high heels began to symbolize. No longer was I a powerhouse- my shoes, which were initially a personal reminder of my strength, made me aware of my shaky footing, literally and figuratively, as a stranger unable to quantify the nuanced but numerous differences between France and the US. A sense of style different from the norm and a height difference meant I stood out and reiterated my inability to properly articulate “don’t talk to me”, “I’m not interested”, “no”, without an accent, without stuttering.
Of course, this objectification is not particular to Paris. Rather, it is a move to a new place, an alienness, an unfamiliarity with one’s surroundings, that makes evident how innately women must avoid this objectification all the time. 
In the US, I know which streets are okay to walk on alone and which to avoid. It is a subconscious decision to go where I feel safest. It is only now, through travel, by letting my guard down, that I realize the extent to which I have always been forced to be hyperaware of my surroundings, how “comfortable” is often just “knowledgeable”, and that when I stop subconsciously avoiding objectification, when I don’t know to expect it and to do censor myself to avoid it, it will happen. Even in Paris, one of the biggest, most romanticized cities in the world.
My lack of knowledge is twofold: physical and cultural. I don’t yet know which streets or neighborhoods are safe and which to avoid. Further, I have a very limited understanding of what is unusual to wear. While it is always a good idea to understand which parts of Paris are safest, I feel more conflicted when it comes to embracing the new standards to which I have been introduced.
On one hand, I feel wary of imposing my own far-from-perfect cultural norms. The standards I am used to are not  better, just more comfortable. Yet on the other hand, consciously dressing to “fit in”, acknowledging and acquiescing that the best way to avoid objectification is to go unnoticed, also feels like a concessionWhile I may feel safer, the underlying issue is not solved if I dress differently to avoid unwanted attention because I am still being defined by male desire. I am not gaining respect, just avoiding attention. As I mentioned, I have realized that I am, in fact, constantly modify my behavior. But, upon realizing it, I am ultimately left uncertain about how to balance a desire for independence, a need to respect the environment I choose to immerse myself in, and an overwhelming pressure to  perform as expected.


Risking diabetes and tooth decay (part of my tooth fell out the other day oops I send my mom the link to this blog once a day), one brave photojournalist braves bullets (cars that consider stoplights mere suggestions) and social stigma (because chocolate on your teeth is a C- look at best and taking pictures of food in front of other people automatically puts you in the category of people SNL would make fun of) to bring you a daily record of her Parisian desserts. The moment everyone’s been waiting for!!

1. Fondant


Cost: 2,10 euro

(first of all, LOL at that wonky action-shot of cake on the left.)

What is it: Basically a chocolate cake, but gooey on the inside. Tastes almost flour-less. Maybe it is, I’m no Julia Child, just a girl with an open mind and stomach.

Would I eat it again: Definitely. It was filling but not excessively sweet or creamy. Kinda of a chill I-don’t-care-if-you-like-me dessert. A dessert D.A.R.E. would be proud of for not trying too hard to impress anyone but still being cool (subtly different from the also chill but distinctly adult Madeleine reviewed later).

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Yes, probably. Not “exotic”, really, but a solid choice. A great comfort food, something you could easily recreate at home.

In a hypothetical world where I was Gretel from Hansel and Gretel, would a house made of this dessert be as enticing as the candy house in the original story?: Oh, most definitely. The house would be warm and comforting, not mod and distant like a candy house. The beds and pillows would be edible memory foam. Amazing.

2. Petit Cannele



Cost: .6 Euro

What is it: I had never heard of this, but I had 1.50 euros on me and wanted to get two different desserts (female eaters, can we have it all?), so I bought the cheapest things in the store, which were this and a madeleine. I don’t know what this is, but it tasted like a gelatinous banana bread. The bakery I was at was just pretty bad, so I don’t think I can give a fair review.

Would I eat this again: No, not at the same bakery.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: I would not introduce this to an enemy.

Would I Instagram this food: Yes, most definitely. The shape was adorable, the texture was bizarre, and I had never heard of it and am interested in hearing what other people have to say about it. #networking

3. Madeleine



You may think the number of pictures I took are some indicator of how great the madeleine was, but, alas, I was just really intrigued by the way the cookie kinda looks like a bear paw with a huge zit.

Cost: .6 Euro

What is it: a cake in cookie form, kinda like those “muffies” from Panera. Spongey and very interestingly shaped.

Would I try it again: Ok, so I’ve had this a bunch of times because a woman sells them outside of the subway stop near my dorm, and they’re always amazing. I WOULD even wear a dress made out of them to the Grammys. They’re soft and moist and have a subtle tea aftertaste. But at the bakery where I bought this particular madeleine, it was dry, chewy, and tasted like fruit loops which was more confusing than intriguing.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: ehh probably not. Again, a great comfort food, but nothing special. Tastes like pound cake.

Would NPR run a segment on this dessert?: Yes, 1000 times yes. There is something so mundane about this dessert that it’s just begging for an article about it’s surprising origins, it’s cultural significance, it’s unexpected relevance to “the selfie generation”. This calm dessert is delicious and unassuming- boring but relevant. It’s just begging to be analyzed, to be defended by a “baking scholar”. It is distinctly adult. It will not rot your teeth with sugar syrup or blind you with it’s artificial neon food coloring. It’s here because of tradition, because every good dinner is followed by a great dessert.

The pastries at this place at decidedly mediocre but when I see that purple color the Barney effect (but the 20-year-old-version) sets in and there I am, consuming sub-par media (pastries). and also, it's across the street from school. so cut your losses or wutevr

The pastries at this place at decidedly mediocre but when I see that purple color the Barney effect (but the 20-year-old-version) sets in and there I am, consuming sub-par media (pastries). and also, it’s across the street from school. so cut your losses or wutevr

4. Opèra

Cost: 2,85 euros

What is it: To be honest, I don’t really know. I never saw this dessert on Madeline or built into an Eiffel Tower at my middle school “A Night in Paris” themed 8th grade dance, so it’s totally foreign to me. It kinda tasted like Tiramisu: layers of syrup-soaked cake, cream, chocolate ganache, and chocolate frosting

Would I eat this again: It was a bit heavy, so not by myself, but it would NOT be the worst thing to be stuck on a deserted (haha or desserted) island with, lemme tell you that.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Probably not. Didn’t blow my mind.

Would I wear a dress made out of this to the Grammys a la Lady Gaga: No… what kind of question is that, even?

IMG_7314 IMG_7316

5. Assorted mini-desserts

Cost: Idk a grown up paid for it



What is it: The caption kinda says it all. It’s everything you would ever want to eat, ever. I was at a family friend’s house for a dinner party last weekend, and they brought this out for dessert- a collection of macaroons in flower-power colors (the circular sandwich cookies), tarte au citron (lemon tart), chocolate tarts and something else (which I only know as cream puffs, but which do NOT contain cream but rather a thick pudding corresponding in color and flavor with the icing on the top.) The pink was rose flavoring, purple was violet, green was pistachio, and orange was orange. I tried the macaroons, my first ever and apparently a French rite of passage, as well as the lemon tarts. Sadly for me, (but luckily for everyone else at the dinner party) I was too afraid of seeming greedy to also try the chocolate tarts.

Would I eat this again: Yes. Yup. Oui. Ouais.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Yes, especially as I was introduced to these mini-desserts- an assortment like this is just beautiful. The macaroons were great. Crisp exteriors, chewy interiors, and symmetrical/colorful enough to be unabashedly Instagram-worthy. The lemon tarts were comfortable and classic and tastey, too.

6. Crèpes


Cost: Again, not sure because I made it (that’s right Food Network, I made that beauty by scratch and, lucky for you, I’m looking for a summer internship!!) but probably 2 or 3 euro.

What is it: Crepes are one of those postcard-worthy French foods. Basically super-thin pancakes stuffed with whatever you want, usually sugar, Nutella (and bananas), jam, or savory stuff like cheese, ham, mushrooms, etc. Kinda like an inverted pizza. (I almost feel dumb going into so much detail about crepes because I think they’re pretty ubiquitous. Do you guys already know about crepes? Was I the last one to get the invite?) Well, anyway, I accidentally bought a crepe-maker instead of a frying pan because I was so excited to see a cheap pan that I bought the first thing I saw. Anyway, I decided to make crepes since I had this shallow pan at my disposal. I made up the recipe, replacing milk with a sour-cream-esque food called crème fraîche, and appropriate amounts of flour, water, and eggs with whatever amounts I felt like, and came up with an eggy mixture that made a decently crispy-yet-soft crepe. I made some savory ones with green pepper, tomatoes, and cheese, which were fine. But what really stole the show were the dessert crepes, which were kinda improvised applesauce, apricot jam, and butter themed. This flavor combo is not necessarily French, but, if I understand correctly, the point of crepes is rustic refrigerator-vomit. (One of those dishes the invokes nostalgia for a time when the cook would just “throw together” whatever remnants were lying around the house.)

Would I eat this again: The ones I made were kinda lumpy and not nearly as good as the ones you get on the street (I swear, you can faintly hear a violin concerto in the background every time the crepe maker flicks his or her wrist, smiles, and smooths out your crepe in a matter of seconds), but it had that “this is bad but diy so acceptable” charm….I think? So, long story short, yes, I WOULD eat this again.

(Edit: since writing the first draft of this post 1 week ago, I have made crepes 4 more times.)

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Yeah. This is a French staple, relatively cheap, and delicious.  Not sure why you WOULDN’T.

7. Baguette


Haha fooled you. This is actually a pen and the best tacky-souvenir I’ve seen yet. (Also, not a dessert, but more importantly, stay tuned for an upcoming baguette review by Parisian arrondissement, or neighborhood!!)


8. Ice Cream Sundae


Cost: 5 euros (but it was easily split-able-haha- 3 ways.)

What is it: You know what it is. Is this cheating? Yes. Was it delicious? Yes. I felt like I could put this on here, though, because I’ve seen banana splits on menus at a bunch of restaurants, and the French word for whipped cream, chantilly, is so pretty. Plus, look at how happy we are!!

Would I eat it again/ Would I introduce this to a crush: Not gonna bother answering. You can decide for yourselves.

9. Pain au chocolat



Cost: I bought a cheap 8-pack at the grocery store for like 2 euros, but would suggest investing in a real, non-packaged pain au chocolat, usually between 1 and 2 euros each.

I only have this pic I took recently in a bakery and a pic of the bag because I bought an 8-pack and (I kid you not) ate the last three some time in my sleep before I could take pictures. Which, I guess indicates how incredible even the packaged trans-fat-coated ones are.

What is it: Another French staple, this is a croissant with a chocolate center. Also something I’m sure I don’t really need to explain…

Would I eat it again: 8 pains du chocolate in 2 days is your answer.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Amelie-esque in an endearing, not contrived way. Yep.

Could this dessert replace the peanut butter everything that seems to be missing in a non-US country? Maybe. It is kind of relevant and appealing in the same way as peanut butter- dependable, addictive, unexpectedly heavy. A constant. Not the same type of food, obviously, but I’m interested to see how the relationship (between me and this inanimate object) pans out.

10. Religeuse


Cost: 2.45 euros

No real pictures of this because I bought it right before class and had to stealthily and daintily (ha ha) eat the whole thing in two bites (gulps) while my teacher was busy trying to solve technical difficulties with the SmartBoard because we’re not allowed to have food in class.

What is it: I thought this was gonna be a stack of cream puffs, but it was really a thin doughy iced exterior filled with chocolate pudding.  Also available in coffee.

Would I eat it again: Maybe- it was really filling, so not alone. I liked the structure though. “Here’s a mini dessert, and because you’re gonna be sad when it’s done, there’s another but way BIGGER!” There’s something so undeniably endearing and unapologetic about a pastry filled with pudding that I kind of wouldn’t be able to say no. I’ve always viewed pudding as this rudimentary childhood dessert scraped from a plastic bowl with a finger, so biting into a delicately decorated pastry and seeing a pool of pudding was a hilarious juxtaposition.

Would I introduce this to a crush I was trying to impress with my worldiness: Again, I’m totally charmed by the idea of pudding inside a dainty pastry, but that’s just my American lens- I don’t think there’s actually anything objectively funny about religeuse. It was a bit too heavy for my taste- I’m iffy on this one.

Is this dessert Pinterest worthy? (Subtly different from Instagram worthy, and also, 2000 words in, I’m running out of steam) Depending on the filter you add to it, I think so. I’ve thought a long time about what my answer to this question is, but I’ve decided the stacked spheres are just unusual enough to make the religeuse worthy of a “Great ways to cheat on your diet ha ha!” Pinterest board. I was a little iffy because of it’s color- usually Pinterest is filled with vibrant pinks and yellows, and the matte browns of the religeuse just seem to fall a little short, but I do believe the attention to detail in the icing is also more than enough to make up for it.

11. Nutella

Cost: 3,15 euros

Uh oh… I’m about to become that person. The person who tweets/blogs/fb statuses about Nutella “being my best friend lol”. But try to tell me I’m wrong when I say this, close friends, a decent job, cool clothes, other foods, and a Netflix account are the ONLY things you need in life.

Anyway, the real reason for including gratuitous pictures of an empty Nutella jar not dissimilar from one you could find at Wegmans is that it, amazingly, has a much bigger presence in Paris. I guess, when you think about, it makes sense. The feeling of the city really comes from the bread- the pastries, the crepes, the baguettes. And Nutella is the perfect compliment, especially when peanut butter isn’t really around to be a major competitor.

I’m not gonna bore you by answering if I would eat it again, introduce it to a crush, etc. because, as with the Sundae, you can decide that for yourselves.

IMG_7456 IMG_7457IMG_7458 <– Nutella still life, mixed media





Cool School


Making good use of the photo booths at metro stations- Happy 2014, y’all! IMG_7062

Thought this guy was quintessential Pear-e, especially when he demanded money for three stops after I took this picture of him. Wanderlust!


This dog is very into haute couture. IMG_7133

An awesome scene! People watching the street performers outside an art museum. (~what is the art and what is the audience?? etc etc~) IMG_7080


This guys gets it.


Cool School pt. 2 (This was after an art history class. I am obviously learning a lot already.)


I ran towards a group of pigeons at least 15 times trying to get this picture. A very wise use of time.



I paid 2 Euros for this thoroughly mediocre picture of us a the Notre Dame featuring... not the Notre Dame #yolo

I paid 2 Euros for this thoroughly mediocre picture of us a the Notre Dame featuring… not the Notre Dame. If I were a different person I would caption this #yolo.

A week in (corny) haikus:

Gonna be late for class
Tram plays pink panther music
Teeth feel smooth and cheesy
~Oblique aesthetique~
This crepe is just lemon juice
And sugar…ok.
Falling in love is
Cliche says prof in black.
Serious g(c)lasses.
Morning like any
New York Times haikus: funny (
Pants on backwards, oops :/
Inside museum
“~where does art end~ ” lol
Fashion exhibit
The Eiffel Tower
Selfie quota has been met
Thank you iPhone 5
 IMG_6821 IMG_6815
Velvet pants might be
A mistake. Really trying-
What is scarf culture?
3 chocolate croissants
Mid sleep small feat can’t be beat
A rainy sidewalk.
keep looking »