March 14, 2012

Gate-crashing a cookbook fair

"This is every cook's opinion -
no savory dish without an onion,
but lest your kissing should be spoiled
your onions must be fully boiled."
Jonathan Swift

What is the next best thing to a Chocolate fair? A cookbook fair full of chocolate demonstration classes by French chefs, of course.

Next question: how do I wiggle our way in to this professionals-only exhibit? I talk our way in. I am after all married to a Neapolitan. I have learnt how to improvise!

Full of anticipation, I treck up to the 19th arrondissement with two American friends of mine. Upon being refused entrance at the front door by a rather large black African man, I negotiate my way around to the back door! "Where is your badge, Madame?" the Moroccan guard at the rear door asks? "Well, you must understand, I have visitors who have come all the way from America for this fair." "Ahhh, Madame you need to come back tomorrow when the fair is open to the public." he replies. "Ahhhh, well you see, my very important visitors have a plane to catch this afternoon." I say. "Mais non, Madame..." "Mais oui, Monsieur!" "Who has invited you?" he inquires while my mind is racing 100 miles an hour to come up with an ingenuine answer: " The book publisher of Italian wines, of course!" The guard gives me a quizzical look and obviously decides he will let this battle be fought by another person. He tells me to contact the guard inside the buidling.

Result: We are now IN the building. NO one will get me out of here again without having browsed through my beloved cookbooks!

We walk through the inner courtyard - which in itself was worth the visit - and admire the most amazing mirrored structure reflecting a replica of a Parisian facade on the floor, kind of like a trompe l'oeil but in reflection.

We were on to our third security guard who turned out to be charming. I present him with my grandest smile - my Dad always used to call it my Hollywood smile - and guess what ... he let us in and even showed us the way to the ticket booth.

Having paid my professional inscription fee I was now asked for my business card. Damn, I knew all those mums at school had personal business cards for a reason! More improvisation necessary: "Ooops, I forgot them in my other handbag. You know I have so many of them...but just put down culinary blogger as my profession."

We are in. The cook books were interesting to leaf through but I had expected a bit more, however, the cooking demonstrations by the French and foreign chefs were extraordinary. Needless to say, we tried every dish that we watched being made and had yet another exquisite French adventure.


  1. ha ha my friend, this is so much fun, how I wish I would have been there watching you do what you do best, charm the heck out of people!!!


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