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Life's Lesson N°4: Don't Hold Your Breath for Carrot Cake in Paris.

Hallelujah! We are back in Paris! Thank God, Almighty we are back in Paris! After an 8 hour drive back from the French Alps, I have never been so happy to see Paris in my life. It usually only takes us five or six hours to drive back but there was tons of snow and tons of holiday traffic but the good news is that David and I only fought twice and I only had three panic attacks in the car. My panic attack started when David left me in the car to go get his favorite gas station carrots. Gas stations in France are very very different than American gas stations. For one, they sell tabouli and if you want nachos with fake cheese, Doritos or Starburst, well then, you are in the wrong country. David’s favorite part of a road trip in France are the gas stations. He loves to buy his favorite ham and cheese sandwiches and carrot salad with raisins… Two things that should never belong at a gas station. They even have salmon sandwiches. WTF. So, as usual, David just had to go inside a gas station on our ride home and get his carrots. This was the first time we have ever driven back to Paris without a caregiver. So if David was going to go inside, that meant that I was going to be left outside in the car alone. This is rather daunting when you are paralyzed and unable to help yourself if you need it. Even though David and I had each other on speakerphone on our cell phones, I was a nervous wreck. What if David had a heart attack while he was in the gas station and then no one would ever know that I was left outside in the car. I started thinking about how long my breathing machine would last (six hours?). Then I started thinking how long I would last without food or water (maybe three days?). And then, while I was mulling all of this over in my head, this creepy guy got too close to my car window and I was convinced we were about to be carjacked. David was still inside the gas station so I just started screaming on the cell phone, “David, I’m being carjacked by a terrorist! Come back, come back!” David just started screaming, “There are no carjackings in France you idiot! Where do you think you are? Calm down, spaz! When I finish paying for my gas station carrots, I’m going to come back to the car and divorce you.” So that was a fun car ride home.

As we were driving into the city, I started thinking about how much I love Paris. I just wanted to wrap my arms around Paris and tell her I would never leave her again and that I was sorry for all the rude things I said about her. As we drove down the Champs Élysées and past the Grand Palais, I realized that Paris is the center of the universe. Don’t argue, it is. The cuisine, the architecture, the history, the gardens, the fashion, the shops, the cutting-edge styles, the old school flower shops, the bistros, the museums, the characters, the tradition… Oh my God, I love it here.

However, Paris cannot do carrot cake worth shit. I told my husband that and he said, “That’s because French people don’t eat carrot cake.” I think for once in his life he might be right.

I think the basic problem with French people and carrot cake is the lack of cream cheese. They don’t really have cream cheese here. They do have crème fraîche but there is no Philadelphia cream cheese in sight. I once ordered what looked like a delicious cheesecake but it turned out to taste like glue. Once again, lack of Philadelphia cream cheese. So, if I want a proper carrot cake, it looks like I’m going to have to make it myself. There is a shop in Paris run by a cranky New Yorker called Thanksgiving. They sell everything American… At triple the price. So, I think I’m going to pop over there and get some million-dollar cream cheese and make my own carrot cake. I have actually never made carrot cake… I know, I know… I should be shot but there is no time like the present so let’s get started…

Let’s start with some secrets from the experts…
Some suggestions...
Use half butter and half olive oil.
Plump the raisins with brandy or rum.
Toast the nuts.
“Cream” the icing.
Add a half a cup of pumpkin.
Add a small tin of pineapple.

Okay now for some interesting carrot cake recipes…

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by Life Is Great Blog. Recipe HERE
Carrot Cake Balls. Recipe HERE
 Carrot Cake Cheesecake. Recipe HERE.

Voilà! Carrot cake mastered.

*Something you don’t know about me? I am fanatical about foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination and any basic germ. My aunt was a nurse and scared me at a young age about all things bacteria. I treat raw chicken like…think Silkwood. Don’t tell anybody but I have been known to just throw away a cutting board after I use it with raw chicken. I am scared of raw eggs and that’s why I have a hard time with mayonnaise. I always cook foods too thoroughly just to be on the safe side. I would rather die than eat steak Tartar. But somehow I will eat carpaccio. However, I will not eat ceviche. I expect everyone in my house to wash their hands 375 times a day. I wish I had a black light so I could expose the hidden bacteria and prove my point. My husband and his family are the opposite. They eat everything and are never worried about food poisoning. In my opinion, they should be dead by now with all of the risks that they take. They eat food off the floor and don’t always refrigerate everything promptly. Maybe they’ve just built up a tolerance and that’s why they never get food poisoning. I have actually googled Listeria before. I check all canned goods for dents and never ever ever leave food in an open can. I have successfully shared this overzealous trait with Gracie. I will not drink regular milk anymore because my friend Tom sent me a horrifying video once regarding all of the bacteria in cow milk. I eat only organic meat and if for one second I start to think that it is actually an animal that I am eating, I instantly become a vegetarian…mid-meal. I want a hamburger so bad but I cannot bring myself to eat one. I have been known to order a hamburger without the meat. I’m cool with fish for some reason. It seems cleaner but don’t think for a second I’m not worried about mercury poisoning. My doctor is convinced that I have ALS due to a toxin that I ingested and my first response was… “I knew it! I knew it had something to do with shellfish and tap water!” And yes, I am a peach to live with.


  1. I would come live with you anytime! You are a delight! xx

  2. Ellie, Ellie, Ellie! *raising hand high in the air like the overzealous kid in class* I have good news for you: you can now get Philadelphia cream cheese in France. I have found it at Monoprix and Géant mixed in with the St. Moret (which actually doesn't suck either). Voila. Thanksgiving does not need your money as they made enough selling StoveTop at ransom prices already.

    And I can't begin to tell you how crazily relieved I am that you are back in Paris. Home.

    Something you don't know about me? I am the crazy girl that gets the salmon sandwiches at the autoroute gas stations. I am dangerous like that. ;)


  3. Gas Stations here, you know, horrendous…nothing healthy in them…cheap peanut butter crackers 2 for $1.00. I'm sorry, I gotta go with David on this one….I like healthy foods….Funny, we live for cream cheese icing, just a few days ago along the beach here is a wonderful organic bakery in which I got a huge piece of carrot cake. I told myself you cannot eat this in one sitting, wrong, I ate it all. Devine! The huge chocolate chip, oatmeal, raisin cookies were late that same night! Bar the door, I think I am cured now for a little while. Love the carrot cake balls idea, and will try it once the move is completed. This move has been a bear and not a Yogi Bear, I could use right now!

  4. I was in Paris at Christmas time and went to a bakery/cafe named Rachel's near the store Merci in the Marais. My husband had carrot cake there and they had a huge tub of Philly cream cheese on the counter!! Just thought you might need to know that! :)

    1. Thanks for the info Debby. Going to go check it out ASAP. XOXO

  5. You can get cream cheese, and carrot cake, at M&S in Paris!

  6. Ellie... I was reading your post in the theater waiting for the movie to start. Naturally, I start and start laughing at the terrorist remark and my husband starts reading over my shoulder and he starts laughing and says "that girl can write!" BTW.. he's never said that about me... I'm not toooo jealous.

  7. Ellie, You can get carrot cake at sugarplums in the 5th and it's pretty tasty!

    1. Dear Taylor, thanks for the info. Going to go check out sugarplums! Thank you thank you. XOXO

  8. OMG I wouldn't survive in a place with limited access to carrot cake! So sorry your ride home was so stressful. I can't imagine what it's like to be left alone in a car when you can't move.

  9. I am resolved to not eat carbs until my birthday. Damn now I want to make carrot cake. I've never used olive oil instead of regular vegetable oil. I'm intrigued. My tip for carrot cakes, banana bread, and other dense desserts is to start them in a cold oven. This way the cake will heat up evenly. Takes a little longer to bake, but easily avoids the common problem of gooey middle and borderline burned crust. I guess it also depends on how quickly your oven heats up. I also prefer to bake cakes in a steamy oven (pan of hot water on the bottom shelf).
    I think a panic attack in a parked car is reasonable. It's a position in which one is vulnerable and really has no control. I hate to be a passenger waiting in a car; and I can walk out or spray a carjacker with hairspray and cologne. So I think your reaction was fair. I am soooooooo with you on germs. WHY do people open the floodgates to illness with shit that is RAW?! One time on vacation, there was a total of 10 adults and 4 children under 6. Well these dumbasses decided to get sushi. We were in South Carolina. I pleaded with them that despite an ocean in view, their sushi was not local or fresh. Ew. They ALL got sick. Thankfully my best friend is a maternal force of nature and she handled the gross stuff while I did the laundry, kept the kids watching DVDs, and drank heavily. The best part was when they all had to admit I was right!

    1. I love your ideas about the carrot cake and cake in general! Great ideas! Thank you.

    2. I think I enjoy your comments almost as much as I love Ellie's posts!!
      Cindy F

    3. Cindy,
      I completely agree with you!

      Hairspray and cologne to fend off carjackers - brilliant, and probably as effective as mace! Love it.

      My apologies if this is a duplicate comment. For some reason, if I try writing a comment using my iPad, it disappears before the robot check occurs...

  10. I hear you Ellie. I have two words for the doubters - TYPHOID MARY! Love me some carrot cake but I like Hummingbird cake even better. Philly cream cheese mandatory.
    Jo xx

  11. I make fantastic carrot cake--I'll be right over to make one for you. Sending love, etc. (but I think the cake would not hold up well with International Air Mail) Mary

  12. Thanks for the recipes....the one I use has pineapple chunks and NO RAISINS ...I hate the things. Philly has started to show up in our Super U. They even had Chocolate Philly at Christmas last year and now I'm sorry I didn't try it as I've never seen it again.

    I could feel your fear of being left alone in the car in the pit of my stomach. I'm glad you could joke about it but it's easy to see how frightening it would be. Sending the warmest hug to you.

  13. David wins! .... I was amazed that you can get the most fantastic food at gas stations across Europe. Gas stations in the USA are sad in comparison .... thanks Ellie, ana

  14. I bought Philly cream cheese at the InterMarche in St. Remy de Provence this weekend. They have three kinds: regular, light and garlic-and-herb! And then I told all my friends at a party about it, I was so delighted. Unfortunately the one place here that sold bagels has closed....

  15. Thank you thank you for once again making me laugh out loud! You are the best!

  16. Happy to hear you made it HOME.I would have had the same thoughts you did in the car whilst the FRENCH HUSBAND is INSIDE!!
    WE have about cracking an egg and finding a baby chick INSIDE!Guess that little egg got missed or perhaps most likely the MAMA was sitting on it and I was not willing to move her to get the eggs.............Believe you ME I did not crack another egg for a VERY LONG TIME!XOXO

    1. Oh dear God! You never told me that story! I would have died!!!

  17. I love carrot cake and my BFF makes a moist one that just melts in your mouth...whipping the cream cheese with a bit of icing sugar for the frosting makes it light and fluffy.
    I get claustrophobic when I am left in the passenger seat for a long time...I think it harkens back to the days when my father used to leave my sister and I in the car when he went to have a beer and he would bribe us with a packet of Cheezies...
    It sounds like cream cheese is available in Paris after all....enjoy your cake!

  18. Thank you for the continuing laughter and inspiration! A really good carrot cake is hard to find but I love the look of the one in the second photo. Years ago "Gourmet Magazine" had a recipe for carrot cake with Bailey's Irish Cream frosting...really good stuff...

    1. Speaking of Gourmet Magazine (yes Ellie, it's me) there is also a very good carrot cake recipe on page 726 of the yellow "Gourmet Cookbook". Thank you Ellie for reminding us to teach our children to cook!

  19. I LAUGHED UNTIL I CRIED! (caps lock)! Imagine car-jacking a car and finding a dame like YOU in the back seat with ALS and a mouth!!

    That guy would never carjack another time; and would probably give up his life of crime!!!

    they really don't have carjackings in France; right????

    God; you are so funny, and I love you and your spirit!

    How completely weird about gas stations in France and the food they have!

    They have the best pizza I have ever tasted in a gas station in Italy!

    Wait till I tell my story about Asola!/Asolo!!! A blog post! Oh Yay! I thought of one!!! It will be coming! Glad you are back in Paris!

    ps I hope you know that absolutely everyone who knows you or knows about you and saw "The theory of Everything"; all they thought of the entire movie was YOU! And how YOU can live to be 72 if he can! I am completely serious......I am asking your subscribers....I am right??

    I know I am right. I understand your answer...but I hope it makes your heart happy that every single one of us thought through the entire movie about YOU!!


    Comments please???!!!!

    1. Hi Penny! Oh how I wish I could come to your house today and have tea with you. I am inviting myself. :-) So sweet of you to think of me in regards to the movie, The Theory of Everything, but this is not how I want to live my life. I do not want to be 72 years old with ALS. Not cute. Stephen Hawking has a trach (artificial breathing) in his throat and cannot speak. This is not my choice. If I can stay how I am now, I'll be okay, but if this gets worse I will act like a lady and excuse myself. :-) XOXO

      I haven't seen the movie.............but will put it on my radar.XOX

    3. I understand and completely respect that. COMPLETELY.
      I just want you to know that those of us who love you do not want you to go anywhere. We want to keep you with us. Completely selfish....on our parts. COMPLETELY.
      Thinking only of ourselves. I hope it will make your heart happy to know that ALL OF US feel the same way. We want you to stay.

      However; I will offer you this!!

      I was extremely close to my mother (my father died when I was 4; and I don't remember him, except for pictures)
      My mother was a total "pistol"; (have I told you this story before....?? please delete, if so!)
      She got Parkinsons.....kinda the same thing as ALS (though she was much older.....she was 40 when I was born....can you imagine??) I am not going there....I would have been an orphan at4!!!

      Anyway....she was a complete whirlwind wizard....until 67; (my age right now!!) she started showing symptoms; She "went up" at 71. She made the choices you have made.

      I love, respect, and admire you. And I am so so lucky to have met you here; and then somehow luckily reconnected on your blog! I still don't know how I did! And I have shared it with so many others who love and adore you!

      And....honestly.....if Gracie wants to visit Santa Barbara....I have an adorable little guest house just her size...she is welcome for the rest of my life and hers!!

      What a wonderful lady and woman you are!!!

    4. OH.. by the way.....maybe you can't come to my house for tea....but if you can....believe me you are invited at any time of day! and tea it will be!

      I may arrive in Paris....and I will invite myself....but I will bring tea to your apartment!

      And I have such a fun story to tell you! I am going to be on a "Reality Show"!! (I have never even seen one!!!)

      It is "The Real Housewives of Santa Barbara" JUST KIDDING!!!!

      It is called "THE REAL HOUSES OF SANTA BARBARA""!!!!

      They are filming in 7 cities.....and they found me.....and picked me for Santa Barbara! I think it is so funny!

      Now you have two friends on reality just have to stick around for a long time....this is being filmed at my house Jan 21ST!
      the networks are working out who gets it! Fun!

      I will write you and blog about the experience! Actually I will fax you the funny (not meant to be) contract once it is will laugh hysterically!!! (save your strength)!!!

    5. Oh my goodness, The Houses of Santa Barbara! It will be my new favorite show! Let's see, yes, I would definitely choose your house first. I would also choose my friends house who just passed away on Eucalyptus Lane. Then, I would choose this other lady's house on Schoolhouse Road. And of course Diandra's but I think the new owner has already wrecked it. Then I would choose my friend Jean black's house. There are so many to choose! I am so excited for you. And yes, you have an open invitation for tea at my house! Bring Ella! XOXO

    6. I'm so sorry your father passed away when you were so young! Wow your mother certainly did a good job of raising you! I am so happy we have reconnected as well. Thank you so much for thinking of Gracie. XOXO

  20. Dearest Ellie, (We have never met but I know La Contessa vicariously through Andrea of the French Basketeer so does that count?) Yours is one of the few blogs that I can truly say I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Hubby and I often disagree about just about everything but we are still married after 5 children and building 7 homes together. Go figure. However, Hubby LOVES your blog, too. I was reading it to him as we drove up to Los Angeles for our family Christmas Party. He was laughing so much that he nearly crashed the car!

    Now, back to Cream Cheese. I see that Philadelphia brand it IS available in France, however, if you want to avoid the additives, you can make it yourself. (Well, not you but maybe Gracie or David?)

    Smiles and a hug from Charlotte in Sunny Southern California

    1. Well, that was a lovely introduction!I will see that FABULOUS FRENCH BASKETEER DAME TOMORROW!I adore your name.........will inquire about YOU with ANDREA.
      REALLY we can make CREAM to learn!

    2. Make cream cheese! That is genius! Thank you thank you. Tell your husband I said hi and I'm glad he likes the blog! XOXO

    3. Dear Ellie and La Contessa, I am so jealous that you are seeing Andrea tomorrow! We were going to connect on Saturday but just didn't get it together. However, I plan to attend Andrea's French cooking class on Sat. Jan 31st at her home in Laguna Beach. BTW, my French-speaking son and I also make Camenbert, Brie and Mozarella. Mozarella es tres simple! Not saying we make all three cheeses well, yet, but we are getting there.

      As always, life is an adventure!

      Smiles from Charlotte

    4. THIS FRENCH BASKETEER IS ON THE MOVE!!!As of TODAY she is overseas and then will be back with ME to teach a ROMANTIC FRENCH COOKING CLASS here in my home.Then will be back in HER HOOD to teach the class your attending!You are in for a TREAT!XX

  21. I have also heard/read several times that Rose Bakery’s carrot cake is the real stuff
    (46 Rue des Martyrs).

  22. Hello.......I was sent around by Razmataz' chania....
    And I am glad I was......she was right...I like your sense of humour