Storybook trip to Paris

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My Madeline and Pepito were ignorant of France. They had been raised in captivity, first in Chicago, then in Baltimore. Pepito had slingshot into his teens; time for an outing.

As Miss Clavel, I packed shapeless black robes. Who can manage Parisian stylishness? Besides, I was there for the food.

We made up for lost time. We summited the Eiffel Tower. We gasped at the Musee d'Orsay. We applauded the opera. We ate.

Meals so good, we remember almost nothing. Like waking from a dream, all that remains is a feeling of sublime satisfaction and a whiff of potato soup, creamed parsnips, roast duck and lemon curd.

Perhaps, too, the scent of creme fraiche, which translates something like "fresh cream" and tastes something like sour cream. It's cultured. And we were hungry for culture.

We loafed at Les Deux Magots, where long ago, in this adaptation of the storybook, the Ambassador had asked Miss Clavel for her hand. We twisted open the windows of our hotel room and peered out at a storefront done up in wedding dress. In the early morning, a taut young Parisian tapped her high heel on the sidewalk. Perhaps she, too, knew Deux Magots.

We gathered pebbles. Hunted macarons. Sighed. It was so short. All that remains is the scent of creme fraiche and a feeling of sublime satisfaction.

Creme fraiche

Prep: 5 minutes
Wait: 2 days
Makes: 1 cup

1 cup heavy cream (if you can find cream that's not ultra-pasteurized, all the better)
1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk

Pour cream into a clean glass jar. Stir in buttermilk. Cover, with lid slightly ajar.

Let rest at room temperature until thick and flavorful, about 36 hours.

Cover. Chill. Keeps about two weeks.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at

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