Meet Mardi Michels, a food writer and blogger living in Toronto. Mardi was born in Adelaine, Australia, and she has lived and worked as a teacher in Australia, Hong Kong, England and France. She’s a passionate and generous food lover, and she has one of the fullest schedule that I’ve ever seen: In the daytime, she’s a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys, and she runs cooking classes twice a week for her students, nicknamed Les Petits Chefs. In her spare time, she’s the author of eat. live. travel. write, a blog focusing on culinary adventures near and far. These two jobs would be enough to keep the average person (very!) busy, but she’s also a cook, baker, photographer, writer, Food Network Canada contributor, Food Bloggers of Canada co-founder and, in her spare time (!), she teaches French pastry classes around Toronto. And she loves travelling too: Here’s Paris, in her own words.
My Edible City
Paris. Who would have thought that Paris would end up holding such a special place in my heart that day in March 1995 when I flew there on a one-way ticket, with only a phone number of a professor at the Sorbonne who I hoped would supervise my PhD studies and very little else. No friends, nowhere to live and no job. I know a lot of people (my family included!) thought it sounded a little dismal but it’s what I wanted to do so people begrudgingly gave me their blessing.
Fast-forward to a few years later and yes, I was still in Paris. That PhD was nowhere to be seen, I was teaching English and taking teaching courses. I had friends, a 15m2 apartment room in the trendy Montorgueil neighbourhood in Paris’ 2ième arrondissement and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
Though Paris has her moments (shall we just be kind and say “bureaucratic challenges”?), she worked her way into my heart during the five years I lived there. The history, the culture and the language are three things I adore about Paris. And did I mention the food? Ironically, for the majority of the time I lived there, I did not cook very much. I had one hot plate and a tiny toaster oven (and only after spending months saving up for it!), most unceremoniously squished up against the shower in my tiny, tiny flat! So my coking was limited and my baking non-existent! Fortunately I lived in the “Belly of Paris” with easy access to amazing fresh produce, meats, fish, cheese, bread and pastries and also prepared foods which saved me more then once when I was “entertaining” (yes, you can have a party for 10 people in 15m2!). So whilst I enjoyed the foods, I didn’t make much of what I ate myself.
My Favorite Dish
Macarons. You know I can’t possibly think about Paris and NOT think “macarons”. If you read my blog at all, you’ll know there are many, many posts on the subject. I first got the bug for making them (because of course, when I lived there, I ate them quite a bit. Far from being a “fad”, macarons have been around in France for ages!) in December 2009 at the Lenôtre class where I learned some essential tips and trick to making the perfect macarons that, up until that point had eluded me.
Since then, I have been on a mission to prefect the macaron – a mission that has led me to teach macaron-making classes around Toronto to other happy macaronophiles, and of course, bake them frequently much to the delight of my colleagues who are my taste-testers!
When I am in Paris each summer, I try to taste different macarons each time I go and for sure, I have eaten my share of macs. Ahem. Do I have a favourite? I love the Ladurée macarons, they are classic, though there are SO many it would take a lifetime of taste testing to get through them all. Lucky I am back in Paris often then!
- Build up your Paris to-do list by browsing through all of Mardi’s posts about her favorite city
- Find out what it’s like to make macarons at one of Paris’ pastry-making institutions: École Lenôtre (Mardi made croissants and pains au chocolats there too!)
- Discover Mardi’s adventures in macaron making and learn from her very useful troubleshooting posts: Part 1 and Part 2
Photo Credits: All pictures by Mardi Michels.