Writer’s block and Parisian Memories

I have been trying to write a new post since I returned from Paris last week. I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. There was the way the street we stayed on was so typically Parisian from the fruit shops with stalls extending the shop out onto the pavements to the patisseries with their counters lined in rows of delicate cakes and pastries. I wanted to describe how my friend enjoyed the perfect balance of spices in the Aloi Cuisine Thai restaurant I took her to as a birthday treat and the way she mixed the champagne, that had been a present from her uncle, with orange juice because she doesn’t like champagne on it’s own. How she laughed when I lay on the floor to take pictures of my glass of champagne.

Then there was the taste of one of the macaron I bought. It’s pale yellow shell filled with Jasmine tea cream, impossible to describe but such an incredible flavour. The blueberry ice cream that tasted intensely of rich jam and the slices of apple in a simple but perfect apple tart.
I wanted to go back to my trip to Paris alone in April and describe pausing to admire the way boats glided past the stone covered banks of the Seine, or the way an indescribable atmosphere seemed to seep from the beautiful facades of the buildings to fill the entire city.

The problem was when I sat down to write the ideas dancing in my mind refused to translate to the page and I hated every mangled sentence I forced out. Nothing flowed the way I wanted it too. Several times I managed two or three paragraphs only to find they read in a disjointed, jarring way and close the file in disgust.

I looked through my file of photographs from Paris and gazed at the scenes of people gathered under the soaring steel figure of the Eiffel Tower. I smiled at the bizarre contrast of the modern architecture of the Pompidou Centre sitting next to a photograph of the 19th Century architecture of l’Hôtel de Ville. I found dozens of close up details of sculptures in a gallery in the Louvre but when I tried to write down the way it felt all I could do was gaze out at the rain trickling down the conservatory roof.

Eventually I gave up and made a second batch of ‘Scocakes’ instead. They were originally supposed to be raspberry cookies but the first time I made them I discovered I didn’t have enough flour so topped the amount up with ground almonds. They emerged from the oven more like little flat cakes than cookies and the almonds gave them a texture somewhere between a scone and a cake, which is what led my friend and I to christen them Scocakes. The second time we had plenty of flour but I used almonds again because they had tasted so nice but I added redcurrants and blackcurrants as well since there were some sitting in the fridge.

Raspberry Scocakes (adapted from the raspberry cookies recipe at letsgetstupid.wordpress.com)

150g butter or dairy free replacement (I use soya spread)
120g sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
115g all-purpose gluten free flour
115g self-raising gluten free flour
80g ground almonds
1/2tsp baking powder
300g raspberries* fresh or frozen (though bear in mind frozen will weigh more than less)

Preheat to 200˚C and grease a baking sheet.

Cream together the butter and sugar then mix in vanilla extract and eggs until smooth.

Sift** in the dry ingredients a bit at a time, stirring after each addition then stir in raspberries.

Drop large teaspoons of batter onto the baking sheet and either leave heaped or press into flat rounds.

Bake for 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

*I used a lot more than this because my parents have stuffed the freezer with boxes of raspberries from our allotment and because I love raspberries. The second time round I added 40g of redcurrant and 40g of blackcurrants.

** The ground almonds are unlikely to go through the sieve. Sift in each addition of dry ingredients until just the ground almonds are left in the sieve and drop them in.

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