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A little choux magic

One of my favourite treats from the many boulangeries around is les chouquettes. Little airy puffs topped with pearl sugar, it is incredibly easy to munch down a packet of them within minutes and then feel a twinge of guilt for overindulging and/or not sharing. They can be bought on per piece basis (€0.15-0.20 each) or by weight (€2-3 per 100g).

I bake them myself from time to time at home, but given my (bad) habit of baking-by-guestimation, it can be a bit of a hit-or-miss exercise. Oops. When it works though, they are pure delights to behold and taste. The list of ingredients for the basic choux couldn’t be simpler – flour, butter, eggs, water and sugar – staples in pretty much any pantry for anyone who cooks/bakes regularly. In the case of chouquettes, of course one should not forget the pearl sugar to sprinkle over. In Paris, it can be stocked from G Detou.

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17 lessons in 17 months

It still surprises me some day that I live in Paris. Not only that, time has also sneaks up on me. It didn’t feel that long ago when I flew into Paris-CDG with an overweight suitcase, battling my way up and down staircases of public transport system and my then new building (how come no one ever offered to help?), before collapsing into a studio apartment with a beautiful view of springtime out the window.

In between then and now, much has changed and many lessons have been sent my way, whether I asked for them or not. Some are glaringly obvious, others not quite so. These are lessons which Paris has taught me in the past 17 months (yes, already!) …

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For a while, in June and July, I was wondering if summer has decided to bypass us completely and transitioned from spring to autumn directly. There were plenty of grey skies, rainy days, and temperature hovering at miserable high 10s or low 20s. How unlike last year when my coats were practically kept in the cupboard between May and September… Eventually though, the crappy weather did yield in favour of sunshine and how I rejoice – time to celebrate with some spots of ice-cream tasting around town!


Grom has received a lot of love from my friends and I this summer. Following Anne’s recommendation last year, this gelateria has been a staple favourite and I’d happily take any excuse to swing by for some gelato. This summer, it includes introducing the boy to it, taking visiting friends over, celebrating friend’s new job and simply enjoying the sunshine. Of course, it’s a major bonus that I live relatively close to Grom (20 minutes walk), hurrah!

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Vouvoiement vs tutoiement

I came across an article on BBC yesterday that discusses the use of “tu” on social media and how this is causing a cultural clash in France. But first, let’s pedal back a little for those who read the sentence above and went “what”?

What’s tu?

Or for the Malaysians, apa tu? ;)

We have it easy in English. When you talk to someone, you refer to the person simply as “you”. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if it’s address to one person, or several, or the age and rank of the person. However, in French, not quite so. There’s an entire quagmire to navigate here and a false move can quickly make you a social pariah to said offended person.

At a basic level, “tu” is you in the singular, and “vous” is you in the plural. Add on the layer of politesse, “tu” is now an informal you, used to address a friend, a colleague (but not a superior unless he/she is a friend or has ok’ed), a child or a family member/relative; “vous” is a formal you, used to address anyone you don’t know, someone older than you, someone with authority (bosses fall in this category) and someone you’re showing a level of respect (say, the President).

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Let’s talk languages

I speak Franglais?

I like it that I grew up in a multi-lingual environment, and that I have opportunity to live abroad and experience new languages in the process. At present, I use either English or French in my daily conversations and they are slowly mergin to take life on its own. Slightly alarmingly for me is to find a plateau in my grasp of French and at the same time a regression in my use of English…

Lately, I find myself saying things like “his father” and “her mother” despite referring to the parents of a same friend (who is not both male and female at the same time, I assure you), asking a colleague if she has “taken her tickets” for a conference trip, and I “make (someone) a present” even if it’s store-bought and directly gift-wrapped (lovingly chosen, of course).

In another word, I’m beginning to literally translate from French to English (“son père”, “sa mère”, “prendre les billets”, “faire un cadeau”), and therefore committing the very same errors that I used to correct my Francophone friends from making! I know this is not strictly Franglais in the traditional sense – I don’t often speak in either one language then pepper it with words from the other – but what else would you call it? Confused foreign-speaker?

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