My friend Natalie is visiting us this week from LA, which is great for Frenchy because while Natalie is indeed my friend she was also once, long ago in a galaxy far far away, my au pair. That's the fancy Frenchified version of nanny. (Nevermind that she's not French but from Michigan.) And that means she has a lot of stories about little lovely Noelliebellie as a child. Because of course I was an angel!
Anyway this evening after a long day of work I thought it might be nice to bake these little mini muffins I've been swearing I know how to make for the whole two years Frenchy and I have been together. We even bought the mini muffin pans in Philadelphia last April. And still, no mini muffins. Poor Frenchy. I'm such a cruel, heartless person.
Until today. So we hit the first roadblock when I looked at the recipe and saw "sour cream." Hmm. I've already skipped the baking soda in three batches of chocolate chip cookies because French people have never heard of such a thing, but I didn't think 3/4 of a cup of sour cream could just be ignored. A google search for "sour cream french" led me to find the plaintive plea for help of another lost American trying to cook something using sour cream in France. Bingo. "Crème fraîche épaisse." Not to be confused with crème fraîche liquide, which would cause all sorts of problems....
Then I thought aloud, where would one FIND crème fraîche épaisse in the grocery store? And Natalie, despite being a teacher of small children, responded almost as if I were retarded, "In the dairy section. DUH!"
DUH is right. Hmph! What Natalie didn't know is that dairy sections in France are typically spread throughout the store. This is clearly for two main reasons. 1) To confuse Americans looking for crème fraîche épaisse. (And who can pronounce that, anyway? Geez.) And 2) Because every French grocery store stocks a minimum of 1,264 different types of yogurt. And I'm sorry, but that just ain't gonna fit in a "dairy section."
As Natalie looked rather incredulous, I dragged her along on this crème fraîche épaisse shopping expedition. Quite incredibly, it was the first thing we found. Actually, SHE found it, when it practically jumped off the shelf at us. By the way, it was next to the pasta. And nowhere near the yogurt, as one might think.
Which, incidentally, takes up three separate DIVIDED AREAS of this particular grocery store. Three walls full of just yogurt. Every flavor imaginable, every brand on earth, with and without added benefits and nutrients, with suger and sugar-free, every possible size and color combination.... After the third yogurt area, Nat looked at me and said, very seriously, "Guess we should get some yogurt."
Oh, and the muffins were AWESOME.