Paris, My Sweet

Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas Read Free Book Online

Book: Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy Thomas
have nothing to look forward to the next day. Or the day after that. I knew to ration my Hostess CupCakes so I could always have a taste of comfort, even when money, attention, and hope were sparse.
    To this day, a cupcake can make me feel like all is well in the world.

    The longer I analyzed Cupcake & Co.’s menu, the more my taste buds perked up. Even better than feeling the cartwheels of anticipation in my belly, my spirits started lifting. Finally, I felt ready to make a decision: I chose the Scheherazade, an irresistible-sounding combination of pistachio cake with cream cheese frosting and a raspberry center, topped with a generous sprinkling of crushed pistachios and one perfect raspberry. I’ve always loved raspberries but since arriving in Paris had a newfound passion for pistachios, which were included in so many delectable desserts and pastries, either whole or ground with sugar into delicious marzipan.
    Feeling conspicuous in the petite bakery, I thanked the lady and took my loot to the community park across the street. The square’s center was filled with planted shrubs and trees, so I chose one of the three narrow paths slicing through and traversed to the other side, where I sat on a slotted bench beneath a cherry blossom tree in full bloom. There was barely anyone sharing the park with me—just a heavy-set African woman reading the newspaper and an older gentleman in a tie, hooked up to an oxygen machine, just sitting, enjoying the day. I eyed my Parisian specimen. The lining was sturdier than those back home; more of a paper cup with a thick lip than a wrapper. But otherwise, with its fastidiously swirled frosting and sprinkling of pistachio pieces, it looked like it could have been from one of New York’s best bakeries. Here goes nothing , I thought.
    I bit into my first Parisian cupcake. The cake was moist. The raspberry center was bright and jammy. The frosting was thick—not too much so—and savory more than sweet, the cream cheese adding just the right hint of sourness. I took a second bite and a third. It was an unforgivably delicious combination of flavors, textures, and surprises. Relief flooded me.
    So there I was, alone again. But this time I was in Paris. I had come a long way from a lonely eight-year-old and a newbie New Yorker trying to find her way. I had so much to be grateful for and even more to look forward to. Nearly three decades after my love affair with cupcakes began, I sat deconstructing a small piece of cake, amazed that even now it could instill such peace, happiness, and a belief that everything was going to be okay.
    More Sweet Spots on the Map
    New Yorkers talk out of both sides of their mouths—even when they’re cramming them full of fist-sized bits of cake slathered in buttercream frosting. As “over” cupcakes as everyone purportedly is, you can still find them on practically every block. Beyond Magnolia, Buttercup, Billy’s, and Sugar Sweet Sunshine, which all have similar sugary repertoires, check out Butter Lane, The Spot, and Tu-Lu’s in the East Village; Out of the Kitchen and Sweet Revenge in the West Village; Babycakes on the Lower East Side; Baked by Melissa in Soho; Lulu in Chelsea; and Two Little Red Hens on the Upper East Side. Or just stand on a street corner and eventually they’ll come to you—cupcake trucks, like CupCake Stop, are also now prolific.
    Is Paris far behind? It’s doubtful. The longer I was there, the more cupcakeries sprouted up like pretty springtime crocuses. In addition to Cupcakes & Co., there is Berko, an American-style French bakery with outposts in the tourist-friendly Marais and Montmartre quartiers, serving circus-like flavors such as banana and Nutella, tarte tatin, and Oreo. Across town in Saint-Germain, Synie’s Cupcakes takes the elegant route with chocolate ganache, lemon ginger, and dulce de leche with sea salt. Cupcakes are even infiltrating traditional boulangeries

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