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where they went

Where they went: Paris

Sarah Singer — poor cook, unsophisticated eater — made foods from sweets to soups in cooking classes in Paris. Sarah Singer — poor cook, unsophisticated eater — made foods from sweets to soups in cooking classes in Paris.
December 12, 2010

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WHO: Sarah Singer, 58, of Roslindale.

WHERE: Paris.

WHEN: One week in March.

WHY: “I’ve traveled all over the world but I’d never been to Paris. I decided that what I should do there should epitomize glamour, and that was to learn French cooking.’’

REMEDIAL NEEDS: ’’Part of the difficulty when I was searching for cooking classes is I really am a poor cook and not a very sophisticated eater. I was worried that some schools would be way too advanced. I used TripAdvisor to see what people said about the different schools, and got all kinds of great recommendations.’’ She chose two half-day classes at Cook’n With Class and one at the renowned Cordon Bleu. “With Cordon Bleu, people were a little worried for me.’’

STUDIO SPACE: One important tip from her online friends: Rent an apartment for keeping class leftovers. Through www.homeaway.com, she found a “tiny studio’’ in the 7th arrondissement, near the Eiffel Tower.

SWEET TREAT: Singer’s first classes, at Cook’n With Class, were in desserts and breads. “We made chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, and a French cookie. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon. We got the recipes e-mailed later, but the class was more about technique, which is different from classes in the US. I left with lots of desserts.’’ The baking class was “more ambitious. We made croissants — I never knew they had 24 layers of dough — and focaccia bread. I wouldn’t try these at home, but I came away with a lot of goodies.’’

FORK IT OVER: Soups were the subject of her Cordon Bleu class, whose Parisian chef was accompanied by an English translator. “Before class, a group of professional chefs from all over the world came out with apple cakes they’d just made. A Chinese woman asked if I wanted a taste, and whipped out a fork from a pocket in the sleeve of her whites. I just loved that.’’

SOUP’S ON: Donning her souvenir Cordon Bleu apron, Singer got to work. “We had individual stations with ingredients for the soup and three kinds of salt. We made French onion soup, but I don’t think it was a great recipe. But we did make a great shrimp soup. I was always a beat or two behind everyone, but it was still fun. The chef would taste everyone’s soup using the same spoon, but his lips never touched the spoon. How does he do that? I left with two big containers of soup.’’

FINALE: When Singer wasn’t cooking, she played tourist. “I spent a lot of time just walking around and looking. One day I went to a hammam, like an Arab bathhouse.’’ She soaked, bathed, and got a massage befitting a French chef.

Send suggestions to diane@bydianedaniel.com.