And so the ship came


Take a branch and stick it in the sand. Walk around and let it form a line that follows you around.

When I was about 12, I started a personal ritual whereby I would think about the present as a sort of end-line to everything that preceded it. The moment didn’t have to be remarkable or have any reason to be remembered, it was usually a random point in time that I exercised this awareness: the first one was in a parking lot of a strip mall in L.A. Looking down at my feet as I rattled a shopping cart toward the entrance of Target to buy school supplies, following my mother’s lead and thinking about the steps. Where they had been. And where they would go.Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies 2 | Infinite belly

Sugar jar illustration | Infinite belly

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Leaf illustration | Infinite belly

Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies 5 | Infinite belly

This habit led to developing a kind of muscle in my brain that from time to time would ask me to check-in. Here I am. “This is the latest”. A line appeared behind me showing my path to this exact point, the infinitesimal “now” of my personal cartography. I was standing at the edge that kept moving forth, never stagnant.

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Cake pan illustration | Infinite belly

The Longchamp Palace in Marseille, France 2 | Infinite belly

My grandfather‘s name was Sigmund. Like Freud. But he was known to his friends as Zigu. And he didn’t smoke pipes nor write about the oceanic sentiment. He read the Estado de São Paulo newspaper and taught me how to count to 100 while I sat on his lap on the beach in Guarujá. I know little about his youth in Romania, except that he was born in Bucarest in 1923 and lived in a close-knit Jewish community until the end of World War II.

Ribbon illustration | Infinite belly

Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies | Infinite bellyAmarylis flowers | Infinite belly

His dream was to move to Paris, where one of his friends was living. After the war, he managed to leave the country with false papers, but before arriving in France, he received a telegram from this same friend saying that post-war Paris was awful and many were starving. Changing course, he made his way south to Marseille, where he knew he could get on a ship that would take him to Israel. American soldiers were leaving the area after France was liberated, so refugees came and lived in the former military barracks near the calanques, the stunning rocky bays along the Mediterranean coast. Zigu was there, waiting for a ship that would take him to the land he had heard so much about. But the ship wouldn’t come.

Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies 3 | Infinite bellyCake slice illustration | Infinite bellyFish sculpture Marseille, France | Infinite belly

It was hard to get precise information about this kind of thing, most of it was word of mouth. A telegram here and there could help, the radio and newspapers also gave often reliable information. After many tense days in waiting, he could not take it anymore. He told himself that if the ship didn’t come that night, he would just go to Paris, even if life there may be very difficult. The ship came.
I can picture him waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of the ship’s arrival. Men hollering near the port, people packing their things up, alerting others of the news. That line of the present “here I am” about to take a drastic turn.

Coffee cup illustration | Infinite belly

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Little did he know that his ship would get intercepted by the British Royal Navy and that he would live in a camp in Cyprus for a year. Or that, after a few years in Israel, he would leave with my grandmother, Lydia, and their 2 year-old son, Ilan — my father — to start a new life in Brazil. And he would be even more stunned to find out that the grandson he held on his lap would go on to live in the city of his dreams, only to move later to the city where he transited, and hesitated, and left.
Wooden spoon illustration | Infinite belly
Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies 6 | Infinite belly

Old-fashioned hazelnut cookies  |  Makes app. 40 pieces 

Continue reading “And so the ship came”

Memory’s fictions


Pine nut & rum pie | Infinite belly

When I was 6 years old, I was forced to eat a tomato for the first time during summer camp. It was in a long and narrow room buzzing with hyperactive kids at mealtime. Taking my hand and dragging me to a place where the red slivers full of seeds and geometrical innards were displayed, the counselor, I still don’t know for what reason, took one and plainly inserted it in my mouth.
Brioche illustration | Infinite belly

Chaise-Dieu church 9 | Infinite bellyPine nut & rum pie 4 | Infinite belly

For many years, when recounting this story, I would conclude it with a grand finale that featured my vomit all over the floor, screams and cries. But with time, I revised this ending, coming to the realization that I must have spit the tomato back in the counselor’s face. As distance from the original event blurs an already foggy image, I begin to seriously doubt many of the details of my testimony. Was I really wearing my favorite stripy shirt? Was the counselor’s name Tomas and did he really have a curly mustache that I’ve ever since associated to tomatoes? Did the other kids actually jeer when they saw my overblown reaction?
Skillet illustration | Infinite belly

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Luckily, I have a lot of other food memories, most of which are very pleasant: Eating fish and chips on rickety wooden tables covered in newspaper at grandma’s favorite place on the Redondo Beach pier. The chocolate ice cream cake I had on my tenth birthday. Long sunday afternoons spent with my family at the leafy patio of a Mexican restaurant bordering the water near the San Pedro port. We would order fajitas and a while later they would come sizzling in a hot platter with fresh tortillas. Enormous ships passed by as we assembled our tacos and took bets on whether they would really fit under the suspension bridge marking the port entrance. Matzeball soup. Gefiltefish. (Never mind, the latter is not exactly a pleasant experience).

Chaise-Dieu church | Infinite bellyCake pan illustration | Infinite bellyChaise-Dieu church 11 | Infinite belly

There is something about a taste, the experience of eating a delicious (or repulsive) meal that impregnates the mind with a kernel of memory that is more resilient and less prone to be forgotten than most banal experiences of daily life. But what about when memories are simply invented? Today, I don’t remember what I ate exactly two weeks ago, but if somebody I trust, say, Adélaïde, told me that I had a magret de canard, I would probably believe her.
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Not only that, but I might even visualize the memory, depending on how much detail is given. It scares me sometimes when I believe recalling an exact event, like storing a valuable in a particular place, only to find out that I was totally wrong. The images in my brain recalling that event were completely fabricated. How much of our past is fiction?

Vintage cutlery | Infinite bellyChaise-Dieu church 8 | Infinite belly

The elasticity of our memories drives me to think of the range of moods and feelings that alter perceptions of ourselves and the world. In accessing the past through memory, we are always selecting and editing from the archive of a constantly evolving personal history. Not to mention the fact that the very way we reflect on particular events also changes over time and according to experience. Maybe the revision of my tomato memory occurred after eating so many delicious tomatoes that I simply cannot believe it was ever this bad… I guess exercising awareness of this fact is a way to gain greater autonomy over something that seems uncontrollable?
Leaf illustration | Infinite belly

Pine nut & rum pie 9 | Infinite belly

Pine nut, rum & lemon golden pie  |  Serves 6 

Continue reading “Memory’s fictions”

The poached peach preach


Poached peach & verbena tartlets 3 | Infinite belly

At first, I wanted to write about Henry David Thoreau. Having read — like almost anyone else who went to High School in the U.S. or uses social media — passages of Walden and Civil Disobedience, I thought I could make an analogy between his Walden Pond and our Lac de Devesset, places to ponder on life and explore nature. Thoreau is so quotable and his prose is so sure; “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! ” could have made a great title for this post.

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But the genies of the Internet wanted it otherwise, for the first search I did to refresh my memory on this ragged American philosopher led to an article in The Atlantic that sought to cast some serious doubts on his positive reputation as a rather cool, abolitionist philosopher of nature and freedom of conscience, who beseeched us to “suck the marrow” out of life as those who have seen Dead Poets Society surely remember. As this debate spread from The Atlantic to The New Yorker to The New Republic, I’m still reeling from the cacophony and thinking about all the different angles from which you can look at one person. One thing that is undisputed, however, is that Thoreau was in love with the fauna and flora of Walden. His knowledge on plant species over his eight years spent there is still a reference today.

Lake reflections | Infinite bellyRibbon | Infinite bellyPoached peach & verbena tartlets | Infinite belly

While far from being plant taxonomists, we did find out about a particularly tasty plant that is typical of Auvergne and specifically our county, Haute-Loire. Verbena, or vervain.

Poached peach & verbena tartlets 8 | Infinite bellyBreton shortbread & plant | Infinite bellyHazelnuts & sky at dusk | Infinite belly

A large Art Deco building is easily noticeable by the road that cuts through the pilgrims’ town of Le Puy-en-Velay. At the top of its ornate tower, large letters read “Verveine du Velay”. I stared, confused at first sight by this seemingly converted office building next to a FNAC (the local book & music store) that must have been quite important when it was built. Verbena, Adélaïde explained, is a plant that is used to make a strong liqueur that is very popular here in Auvergne.Funnel | Infinite bellyWe found bottles of artisanal Verveine being sold at a farm products store in the town’s medieval center; I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised when I first tried this herbal liqueur. Drinking verbena is like taking an antique homeopathic medication that gives you the “green” and fresh taste of a wheatgrass shot, and a warm inner glow.

Frosted plant | Infinite belly

Another time, we experienced this aromatic plant in a completely different context. Looking at the menu at our friend’s restaurant, we were intrigued by a dish of chicken with ground hazelnuts and verbena. A mouthful made me realize the obvious. The herb itself is an excellent ingredient for cooking. It has a slight citrus taste and gives off an incredible aroma when combined with hazelnuts. The locals also love it as tea.

Poached peach & verbena tartlets 6 | Infinite bellyOrnament | Infinite belly
By a lake at dusk | Infinite belly

On our monthly visit to the local plant store, we had a clear mission. Find one or two plants that could be put in pots on the floor but would grow high enough with lots of foliage in order to partly cover our big living-room windows. But as is often the case in such a place, we get so lost looking at all of the varieties of orchids, hanging plants, quirky cactuses and succulents, that we always end up packing our car with newfound greens to fill a corner of our cottage. 
Lake at dusk | Infinite belly
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We found a beautiful verbena plant, thin branches going in all directions, sprouting avenues of tiny aromatic leaves crowding the sidewalks. It almost looks like a carefully crafted and delicate bonsai. Out of the many experiments done using this herb, my favorite has to be the poached peaches on Breton sablé and cream.

Poached peach & verbena tartlets 9 | Infinite belly

Poached peach + verbena & candied hazelnut Breton sablés | Serves 8

Continue reading “The poached peach preach”

Gingery road


I sometimes get the impression that we live in a timeless, unchanging part of the world. Since the volcanoes have carved and engraved the landscape millions of years ago, it’s easy to automatically look at the farms, cattle, and villages in the same way. The sun rises and sets over the fields around Verne, the fields that have always and will always be there. The only thing that changes during the year is the point in nature’s cycle of growth and decay. Similarly, I have been thinking that the way we live here today is probably not unlike the way people lived here half a century ago, and it will continue looking like this far into the future. In short, I thought of country life as being somehow outside of history. But a long talk with the Rabeyrin’s made me realize I have been completely wrong about the Verne of yore.

Ginger chocolate mousse | Infinite belly

Yesterday, I dropped by their house to give them the ginger chocolate mousse Adélaïde had just made and they insisted that I stay and have a cassis (blackcurrant) apéritif with them. Unable to resist the offer (they make their own crème de cassis, which diluted with a little bit of water tastes amazing and is very refreshing), I succumbed and we began chatting about the indian summer, winter vegetables, how to raise, slaughter, pluck and prepare a duck, beekeeping… the usual subjects of casual conversation. As they recounted episodes of village life and raising a family, I asked Madame Rabeyrin where she is from originally (it is curious to note that, after almost a year of knowing our landlords, we still address each other as “Monsieur” and “Madame”). With a coy smile she said, “Oh not at all from here! I’m from a village close to Dunières”. Dunières is about a 20 minute drive but to her (and to a lot of people we meet) that kind of distance means it’s a totally different place. And Monsieur Rabeyrin? “I’m from Verne, born and raised” he said with a proud look on his face. His father owned a stone shaping factory where they would prepare the material that would go into making houses as well as tombstones and memorials. “So you must know so much about the area, all of the families in the region, the different generations, no?” I inquired. He was affirmative. “Everyone knows us here. Well, a lot of relatives live in Verne. My cousin lives two houses up the street from you by the iron cross facing the field, and my uncle was married to a woman who ran a café by the church, the Café Pradier. Now there are less people around, some have passed, others are retired so we see them less often”.

Ginger chocolate mousse | Infinite belly

The woods of Verne, Auvergne, France | Infinite bellyAdélaïde in Verne, Auvergne, France | Infinite bellyVerne, I found out, was not always the sleepy hamlet it is today. Young people used to be able to easily find work in the area. Agricultural production and cattle raising were in full swing, and textile factories hired many people. When the textile industry declined, they were replaced by plastic factories; “plastic saved us” M. Rabeyrin likes to say. In Verne alone, there used to be four cafés (!), a boulangerie (bakery), and an épicerie (grocery store)! One of the cafés had live music on Sundays, and people would gather there after church for a drink, or as they call it un verre d’amitié, “drink of friendship”. “That was where we first met,” Madame Rabeyrin casually mentioned, and I tried to imagine them as a young and handsome couple, dancing in a crowded room full of life and joy and laughter, the clanking of glass and clouds of cigarette smoke, and of course the bouncy accordion and crooning vocals of the bal musette.

Coffee cup | Infinite belly

Today that street is a busy highway. Many cars and trucks pass by, but one sees few people and no commerce whatsoever. The Café Pradier, with its faded out façade and closed door, is not open for business anymore, although at times I’ve seen an elderly lady looking out the window through the white lace curtains. The tables are still there, but the former customers have passed or are now older and less prone to leave home. With less and less opportunities for finding work, the new generations left to go to the big cities, Saint-Étienne or Lyon.

André walking by Café Pradier, Verne, Auvergne, France | Infinite belly

Ginger chocolate mousse | Infinite belly

I felt a strange mix of emotions after hearing all these stories; people had such a good quality of life here, living close to nature while rooted in the land their families had lived in for generations. The region hasn’t lost its beauty, but there are certainly less people, and those memories become faded like a postcard of a forgotten place that was once so vibrant.

Wild flowers | Infinite belly

Adélaïde picking wild flowers | Infinite belly

A walk in the woods, the road to the lake | Infinite belly

The Rabeyrin’s could read my thoughts, but they didn’t seem as worried. They still have their beautiful vegetables, chickens and ducks, sunsets, and fresh air. “That’s just how it is, the old generations go but new ones will come”, they seemed strangely confident as they reassured me. They cited some reasons: people can work from home now and many choose to live in the countryside. And who knows, maybe immigrants will also bring new life to this part of France. Although there will surely be waves of growth and decrease, it is precisely the timeless aspects of life here that will always keep bringing people back.

Book on spices | Infinite belly

Dirt road & wild flowers | Infinite belly

Whisk | Infinite belly

Chocolate mousse was my favorite dessert growing up in Brazil. For years, I knew it by its Portuguese pronunciation — moossy gee chocolâchee. Here we used a small amount of sugar and added a more adult ingredient, ginger, to make things fizzle just a bit.

Ginger chocolate mousse 4 | Infinite belly

Ginger-infused dark chocolate mousse | Serves 8-10

Continue reading “Gingery road”

The forager’s harvest, Part I — chanterelles


Fall harvest squash and girolles - Infinite bellyInfinite belly - poached egg girolles toast 2Infinite belly - pear muffins with girolles caramel 2

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is, the much awaited season I’ve been dreaming about, a moment I’ve been anticipating ever since we moved here… mushroom time! And a full mushroom menu to celebrate. Finally, I can go out into the woods and just get my hands full of chanterelles and ceps! The forest has completely transformed for autumn. Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes now punctuate the landscape with color: red amanites, white coulemelles, yellow girolles, bits of orange moss, brown cèpes, purple amethysts. You feel like Alice in Wonderland, completely overwhelmed by these new objects populating the woods.

Infinite belly - beautiful forest

Infinite belly - mushrooms in the forest

Infinite belly - beautiful forest 2

Beyond being lost, we were more precisely at a loss. Luckily, we were accompanied by our friend André Chachá (his actual name, which coincidentally means “Cat-cat” in French) a Brazilian cook who was working under Chef Régis Marcon in a 3-star Michelin restaurant not far from here in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid (‘Saint-Beanie-the-Cold”) and who knows a thing or two about mushrooms, at least when it comes to cooking them.

Infinite belly - Chef André ChacháChef André Chachá

As novice mycologists, we opted for the strategy of picking as many types of mushrooms as possible and identifying them later. Showing up at the pharmacy with a basket of colorful forest finds, we were disappointed to discover that almost none of them were edible, and the few that wouldn’t kill you were not gastronomically interesting. Adding insult to injury, the pharmacist explained that even if we had found good ones we would not have been able to eat them since we mixed them all together in the same basket with the other types, and worse, since we in part used plastic bags to collect them… and plastic makes mushrooms ferment. After so much anticipation, we were devastated. Maybe the secret to mushroom success was inaccessible to us newbies.

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Infinite belly - mushrooms in the forest 2

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It was Chachá who saved the day. Going back to Saint-Bonnet, we tried a new spot, hoping for better luck this time. Climbing a steep hill to reach the promised land we stood there breathless, but to our dismay this spot looked even worse than the last one — there were less mushrooms in both quantity and variety. To top it off, on our way back down, it started raining. We were scattered in three different corners of the woods when I suggested we should just call it off and go home. As we reluctantly headed down, I saw Chachá stooped over some bright yellow mushrooms. “I think they’re chanterelles! he exclaimed in cheerful Portuguese. Once we started finding them, we just had to follow the path that naturally connected their growth clumps. It got to a point where we ran out of containers and had to use our sweaters to grab more. We ended up getting over 1 kg of chanterelles, which for a small mushroom is quite a lot!

Girolles mushroom basket - Infinite belly

Although the Marcon restaurant (with the cheapest menu starting at 360 euros per person) is off-limits for us at this point, we were lucky enough to have one of their cooks prepare a meal with us at home! And what a treat that was, coming back inside on a chilly afternoon, spending hours making celeriac cream, squash, and toasts to accompany the wild mushrooms we had just foraged. In the end we had so much that we even used them for dessert! Chef Chachá showed us something we had scarcely fathomed before: caramel aux chanterelles.

Infinite belly - pear muffins with girolles caramel 4

Couverts trois vertical

Infinite belly - poached egg girolles toast 4

Chanterelle tartines with poached egg, celeriac cream,
borage flower & yarrow leaves | Serves 2

Continue reading “The forager’s harvest, Part I — chanterelles”

A fig for your thoughts



When I was a kid, I hated eating fruits. Juices were sometimes okay, but eating a whole apple? Gross. It felt too strange in my mouth, both crunchy and soft, firm yet juicy. Not to mention its overpowering tangy taste… it was too confusing for a kid used to a modern diet of spaghetti and meatballs, Doritos, and the Brazilian staple of steak with arroz e feijão. Every Rosh Hashanah I was tortured to eat apples with honey for a sweet New Year. And it was not only apples that scared me but all kinds of fruits. Some were surprisingly soft and mushy inside and had all kinds of seeds and deadly pits hidden in the center. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that by the time I would grow up this would have to change. It would be too ridiculous to refuse a tangerine at the ripe old age of twenty on the grounds that I felt “icky” about eating fruit. And probably like a lot of other children, I started getting used to fruits by consuming them when they were almost unrecognizable: transformed appearance, engineered consistency and/or taste, loaded with sugar (e.g. fruits roll-ups, gushers… you get the idea).

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The other night, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in the area, La Coulemelle, a great bistrot-style place in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid (which would literally translate to Saint-Beanie-the-Cold — probably one of the best village names I ever heard). They had just entirely changed the menu and when dessert time came, I couldn’t help but feeling a little disappointed at first. They only had desserts with fruits in them. No chocolate. No caramel. No nuts. Just lemon, fig, and peach. There it was; my childhood reluctancy to eat fruits was still lingering in my grown-up body.
Adélaïde managed to convince me to order the figues rôties. As the waiter brought my plate, it struck me to see that the figs were not distorted like in most desserts. I was wriggling in my chair. They were whole, beautiful and a little intimidating but as I started eating spoonfuls of them, I realized I love figs just as they are. Because you could really feel the taste of figs exploding at every bite. It was like I could suddenly swallow all the fruits in the universe and enjoy it. It was actually so good we went to see the chef and asked for the recipe. Luckily, Michel was kind enough to share it with us: dribble honey, butter, Maury wine (from Roussillon), and salt on the figs and put them in the oven for 5 minutes. Disarmingly simple. A couple of days later, we made a tartelette version of this dessert de la maturité.



Aromatic fruits like figs and pomegranates remind me of the Mediterranean sea and the lands of my great-grandparents, Izmir and Rhodes. In the book I’m reading at the moment, Belle du Seigneur, by Albert Cohen, the main character, Solal, is a League of Nations officer who also comes from that region, from the island of Cephalonia. And he uses precisely this imagery of oriental flora and Mediterranean paradise to ravish Ariane, the woman he wants to seduce:

What kinds of trees were there in Cephalonia, asked this daughter of wealth, this consumer of nature’s beauties. With a faraway look in his eye he reeled off the names of the trees he had so often recited to others, ran through the list of them: cypress-trees, orange-trees, lemon-trees, olive-trees, pomegranate-trees, citron-trees, myrtle-trees, mastic-trees. Reaching the limit of his knowledge, he went on inventing lemonella-trees, tuba-trees, circass-trees, prune-trees and even puple-trees. Wonderingly she inhaled the vanilla-sweet fragrance of his miraculous forest.



Pelle à gâteaux vertical

Roasted whole fig tartelettes | Serves 4

Continue reading “A fig for your thoughts”

Black forest of dreams


Black forest cake | Infinite belly

Auvergne is wild. Night creatures scuttle from the edge of the woods across the road as we drive at 5am to a nearby forest for mushroom foraging. Hedgehogs, snakes and cats make occasional appearances. The cows are still asleep on the fields. The sky is slowly shifting, lifting its dark mantle of night to reveal pockets of orange and pink. I try hard to keep my eyes on the road.

Auvergne black forest | Infinite belly

The morning radio talk show interviews a fashionable French actor. I turn the sound off and lower the windows as it gets warmer and the day begins. Looking up, hawks circle over a field, ready to swoop down on unsuspecting mice. Walking in the woods, we spot a fox in the distance, silently slipping away. The air is damp and fresh. Still, no mushrooms. Even with all of this wild life, I’ve never felt in danger while wandering deep in the forest (as long as I have some good rubber boots on).

Adelaide in the forest | Infinite belly

Rubber boots in a stream | Infinite belly
Depending on the place in which we live or grow up, we have different relationships to the forest. In Brazil, I used to go on road trips to the beach with my family via the Serra do Mar, a mountain range covered in lush Atlantic forest (the most biodiverse in the world). I would stare out of my window as we passed by this majestic, seemingly impenetrable jungle, where the vegetation was so thick you could barely see past the edge of the road. During long traffic jams at night, I would imagine all kinds of beasts roaming about this mysterious place (lions, tigers, and bears!), and shudder at the thought of finding myself alone and struggling to survive. Nature could feel like a dangerous place, an “unfinished, pre-historic world” where one could perish if not prepared.

So many books and movies I love have illustrated this more eloquently. I think especially of Werner Herzog’s films and travels in the Amazon, narrated in Les Blank’s movie Burden of Dreams. In the jungle, “even the stars are a mess”, we get overwhelmed and disoriented from our cardinal points; we end up embarking on a wild quest to pull a boat over a mountain as in Fitzcarraldo, or go mad like Claus Kinsky with the monkeys in Aguirre. Wandering in the woods here, on the other hand, makes me think of the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault tales; nature feels like it’s both gentle and mysterious.

Magical Auvergne forest | Infinite belly

Heart shape in the forest | Infinite belly

Cloves in the forest | Infinite belly

The nice thing about mushroom foraging – in other words, staring at the ground for hours – is that even if you don’t find any, it forces you to look at the micro-forest – the tiny things that form the surface of the ground, like drops of dew on fallen branches, snails of all sizes, iridescent copper beetles, a winding staircase of tiny mushrooms on a tree trunk, the variety of colors and textures in each and every square inch.

Auvergne micro-forest | Infinite belly

Cloves & mushrooms | Infinite belly

Colorful beetle | Infinite belly

Time goes by in a different way, and before you know it, it’s 11am and we head back home to cook lunch. With a bucket of wild berries just picked, tomorrow’s breakfast is ready, along with some fresh faisselle cheese from the market. Our clothes smell like pine and my whole body feels like it’s been exercising even though I was never short of breath. The day has just started.

Adelaide picking berries | Infinite belly

Auvergne forest | Infinite belly

Basket in a forest | Infinite belly


Black forest cake chocolate decoration | Infinite belly

Timeless black forest cake | Serves 6-8

Continue reading “Black forest of dreams”

Flowers will be pies


French apple pie | Infinite belly

When Adélaïde started her pastry classes, the first thing she was taught was how to make a good pie crust. A beautiful golden color, crunchy at first, then crumbling in your mouth, enhancing and magnifying the fruits without sticking to the palate. The crust is the pie’s soul. If you want to make a good pie, make your own crust. It doesn’t take much time and is infinitely more rewarding than the ready-made ones. All you have to remember is that you need to progressively incorporate the butter into the flour and the other dry ingredients (almond powder, powdered sugar and salt) before adding the egg. In French, this is called sablage: the flour and the butter have to turn into sand and darken into a rich yellow shade.Perfect pie crust | Infinite belly

It’s been apple season here these past weeks and one of the fruit trees in our garden has been getting heavier and heavier under the weight of dozens of green and reddish sweet globes. We had to relieve it of its embarrassing offspring. So we decided to bake a traditional apple tart, French style. Any pastry shop here sells these. It started out as a misty morning but eventually, as we were ready to fill up our basket, the sky had cleared up, brightening the garden and its century-old stone walls.

Basket in our garden | Infinite belly

Apple tree in our garden | Infinite belly

Not so long ago in the spring, we used to watch our cats climb up this tree as we picked some of its branches to make beautiful bouquets. Adélaïde once told me she couldn’t help but feel a little sad for those flowers that would never become apples. Now as we eat this apple pie, it reminds me of the fact that it is a little bit like biting into a bunch of flowers.

Apple-tree flower bouquet | Infinite belly


French apple pie | Serves 6

Continue reading “Flowers will be pies”