An Interview With The Tartelette

July 7, 2007

A while back, Gilly from Humble Pie was interviewed as part of an game going arond food bloggers (and others I am sure). The end of the interview gave instructions for anybody to ask to be interviewed also. I hesitated for a while and then I took the plunge and asked her to send me my five questions.

So here it is! I hesitates because some are very personal, but in the end I kept some details for my closest friends and my own private garden, but in the end this is it in a nutshell.

1) What brought such a sweet little Tartelette to the United States from
France? Do you travel back to France very often?
Let’s try to make a long story short. I came to Charleston, South Carolina August 1996 to do my Masters degree in American/English History. My major back in France was English, which did not mean we learn English, but that we learn everything history/arts/literature related in English relating to both American and British civilization. I was taking classes here at the College of Charleston, I was also teaching French conversation and doing my research. I found a 4th occupation thanks to my very cool roommate: college socializing…something that we do very differently in France. Local bands and local venues soon had no mystery to me…a wonder I passed m thesis with honors!
I don’t go home as often as I wish. Since I have been here I only went back 4 times on vacation and twice for funerals. I wish I could go home more often, especially now that I have come to know my nieces, that my grandfather is going to be 98. I am very lucky that my parents come once a year and spend one month with us.

2) As a fellow builder-of-their-own-house - I'm really interested... What
was your favourite part of the whole process? What did you like the least?
Would you ever do it again?
There are two things that I really liked about the process. One was looking at the lot, the blueprints, looking how the land and house would become one. Looking at the house plans and trying to grasp the coming months was like inhaling adrenaline.
The other favorite thing was working alongside my husband painting the house in over 100F heat “honey, is it a problem if my sweat dripped in the paint bucket” “Keep going”, or putting the hardwood floors until 3 or 4 in the morning. It took us 15 months winter and summer, but we have learned so much about each other and our couple.
When I was saying that we did over 75% of the work ourselves, I was not kidding…and that’s where the least favorite part come into play: I did not enjoy seeing my man suspended on a 2x2 putting up sheetrock or nailing tiles on the roof.
Would we do it again? Yes! Actually my husband still does…being a foreman for the neighbors who operate a building company and who admired his work…on top of his “real” job.

3) How did you and your husband meet?We met on May 17th 1997 during a History conference held at the College Of Charleston. It was a Franco-American conerence on the fate of the Huguenots in America and I was working as an intermediate/translator/ receptionist between the French guests and their American counterparts. My husband was not working a a professor then (sabbatical) and came the very last day to listen to the lectures and attend the gala dinner. When he checked in, I was so tired after days of high maintenance published authors that I clearly remember not lifting my head when he approached the reception desk to pick up his lecture material and dinner ticket. Then he spoke, and I slowly raised my eyes…the volice clearly matched the sexiness of the man it belonged to…and as they say the rest is history. Ok…ok…a little bit more: we spend some time chatting that day. We sat down at dinner together and when another professor asked about my ongoing history research I felt like telling him to get a life, please can’t you talk about something else?!! So I turned to B. and said “pinch me and save me now”…and he intervened with a good joke. He drove me home and when we realized we were 19 years apart, well things cooled down a little…no kiss goodnight…The next day there was a big card on my doorstep, telling me that we did not chose to be born when we were that the distance between France and America is only what we make it to be and that he had fallen in love with me at first sight.
That’s what happened kids, no lie. We knew the moment our eyes met, it felt like being home again.

4) While working as a pastry chef, what was your favourite item to create,
and why? Your least favourite item, and why?
First of, I still work as a pastry chef but on a freelance basis: friends in other restaurant who need a hand one weekend they want to take off, helping old chef on his catered parties, word of mouth orders and parties. When I was full time at the restaurant, my least item to make was crème brulee…The owner of the restaurant hates flavored crème brules, so when it was all the rage to infuse the batter with extracts, flowers, herbs,…I was stuck to the vanilla one. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolute beauty in vanilla specked crème brulee, but the magic disappears fast when you make 100 a was our best sellers.
My favorie : the “special”. I was responsible for a menu of 14 items plus one daily special, and I had complete free range of what I could make…oh freedom! I could finally showcase my skills, love for one particular product, technique or play with some new tools, take full advantage of “no restriction”. I know it does not help much but it could have been a simple molten chocolate cake to a more complicated sugar basket filled with sorbets or fruits, a plate of petit fours, an assortment of molded chocolate truffles, anything. Out of the menu, my favorite to make was the “nougat glace”. It always reminded me of home, my grandma was from Montelimar, the nougat town and that turned into an ice cream served with raspberry sauce, that thing is a killer!

5) What is one food that you dislike that most other people seem enjoy. How
about one food you like that most others seem to dislike?

I don’t like egg dishes: omelettes, scrambled, fried, Benedict…I don’t like the taste of the yolk. I am the weirdo who orders an egg white omelette, and not because I am watching my weight. I really can’t take the yolks.. Weird, since I use them everyday…
I love organ meat: sweetbread, tripes, kidneys,blood sausage especially…I don’t make them but once a month B. needs to watch his cholesterol and they are rather on the pricey side. Everytime I go home, I ask mom for blood sausage and kidneys. At a restaurant I always steer toward the sweetbread app… I guess I'll never be a vegetarian, sorry folks!

1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Beware, I’m not shy of
asking personal questions! Please make sure I have your email address.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.Answer as little or as much as you'd like. And don't forget to add the directions at the bottom of your post
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in
the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five

Click here for the recipe for the Lemon Tartelettes you see in the picture.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Thank you Helene.
Such a wonderful story about your husband! Well, each of your answers are beautiful. Building a house is certainly a telling experience on a relationship!

Aimée said...

Great job, Helen! I too answered questions from Miss Gilly and squirmed a bit with the personal ones. However, it is nice to know a bit more about you!

Warda said...

J'ai l'impression de te connaitre depuis toujours a travers cette interview. Mes impressions etaient bien fondee:" Tu es aussi sweet que t'es desserts" et le mari est bien chanceux de t'avoir a ces cotes.

Nora B. said...

That was a very interesting read, Helene. Thanks for sharing about yourself. I love the story about how you met your husband - beautiful!

Big Boys Oven said...

Cool, very cool. Life is always lovely and full of colours.

Cynthia said...

It is nice to know you Helen. I am a romantic at heart and truly loved the meeting of your husband :)

Lisa Johnson said...

Such a romantic story about you and your husband! I love the recipe and the picture, but that story is my favorite!

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely story, Helene. So romantic.

Clezevra said...

hey, i came across that blog too! nice coincidence! likethe layout of your blog, cheerful ,and sunny bright. drop in on mine sometime...

Louise said...

Allô Hélène!
J'aime beaucoup tes réponses au questionnaire en particulier, comme plusieurs, l'histoire de ta rencontre avec ton conjoint. C'est très romantique!

Peabody said...

I love the story about you and your husband.
I don't really like egg yolks either. My eggs either have to be fully scrambled or in a quiche.

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Anne said...

I had a great time reading your least I get to know you more. I too join you in your love for organ meat :)

Anonymous said...

It's so romantic how you met your husband. :)

Anonymous said...

Very nice to read more about you and how you arrived here in the US! Teaching French, eh? One more point in common!

Anonymous said...

Hi Helene! Ooh I love the story of how you and B met... so romantic!!

Thanks you for your responses, and giving us insight into your sweet tartlette life! And I apologize if the questions put you on the spot at all...

Anonymous said...

I love the story of how you met B and how you built your house together...that is very impressive.

Mike Kelley said...

Great story about you and your husband. I love these kinds of stories.



Cheryl said...

Wow, now that is a romantic story of how you met your husband. Lucky gal and lucky guy too.

How impressive that you built 75% of your homes. You skills go way beyond baking.

I really enjoyed your interview.

Anonymous said...

I love the story of how you and your husband met. So sweet! Wonderful answers all. I knew you to be delightful from reading your blog, and am happy to know a bit more of your story.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Really fun interview!
Now PLEASE send me 5
of those lemon tartelettes

Anonymous said...

It was so nice to read about how you met your husband, it's like straight out of a movie! So romantic! :D I too love organ meats. :)

Deborah said...

I loved learning more about you!! My husband knew he was going to marry me the first time he saw me - it just took me a little longer!! Thanks for sharing!

Eva said...

Hi Helen,
How nice to see that romantic stories happen in real life and not only in Hollywood movies! If you like, interview me!

Inne said...

Helene, can I please borrow your husband for a bit? S and I have been renovating our place for almost 3 years now (doing as much as we can ourselves) and not making much progress. Last summer we even held a 'no progress' party! (this summer we're aiming for a 'slight progress' party though) :)

Blame It on Paris said...

I love romantic Southern-French meetings and stories! :) I wonder why that could be? And of course, I love food stories, so...I really enjoyed reading your interview responses. Thanks for sharing!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I just found your blog today and I am a lover of desserts and a hopeless romantic. Thanks for sharing that story with your husband and I'm going to be exploiting your blog for new recipes very soon!

Anonymous said...

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