The French are famous for their fashion sense, their classy outfits and some sort of je-ne-sais-quoi effortless chic. Since I’ve been living part time in Paris, I’ve found that the main reason for this fashionable image is that they stick to a very strict colour code, namely black, black and…. more black.
Now, if you’re the adventurers type you might even dare to wear something grey or dark blue. But your safest bet is black, from top to toe. Even I’ve found myself adjusting to this unspoken code, and the fact that both my French boyfriend and the mini-chef always tell me to buy the black version of something did speed that process up quite a bit (c’est plus jolie, Eva, c’est trop classe en noir!).
Even while doing sports you’re supposed to look good and fashionable, my boyfriend is very serious when he talks about the looks of cycling gear. If it’s not élégant, he’s definitely not wearing it on a bike!
Because I live just a part of the week in Paris, during which I work at home instead of at the office, I used to keep most of my ‘formal’ clothing in the Netherlands. Until a certain saturday when my boyfriend told me “O, I forgot to tell you, but we have a party tonight”. Knowing how they feel about clothing I immediately asked him what kind of party it was, but he assured me my jeans and sneakers would be just fine. And even more, wearing them would make such a cool impression, really relaxed.
Of course I immediately felt I had made a huge mistake when we arrived at the party. There was not a single woman there, who was not wearing very high heels and a fancy black dress (except for those two daredevils who were wearing grey…). Men, did I feel horrible that night. And even though the host was really kind and, as my boyfriend did earlier, told me “Au contraire, that jean (in French, they say jean) and baskets (sneakers) look very cool!“ , I knew showing up in anything but a nice dress was just wrong.
That’s a mistake I will not make again and I now ALWAYS keep a nice dress and some high heels in my closet in Paris. Just in case.
This pavlova looks very fancy, but is in essence nothing more than a fancy dressed meringue. I’ve flavoured plain egg foam with some raspberry juice, which not only gave it a fruity flavour, but a nice pink swirl as well. Stacking up different sizes of meringue, topped with heavy cream and different vibrantly coloured fruits, turns a good old meringue in a ready-to-party pavlova.
The perfect party compagnon, since the meringues and cream can be made in advance, and it just needs to be assembled right before serving.
- 3 egg whites
- 175 gr (3/4 cup) sugar
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 handful raspberries
- 100 ml (a little less than ½ cup) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 200 gr (1.5 cup) of fresh fruit
- Preheat the oven to 120 C / 250 F
- Whisk the egg whites in a completely fat free bowl until almost stiff
- Add the sugar, bit by bit, while continually whisking
- Use a spatula to put in the corn starch
- Take a sieve and hang it above the bowl
- Put in the raspberries and squash the raspberries with the back of a spoon, to get the juice out
- Use the spatula to carefully mix the raspberry juice with the stiff egg whites
- Put a piece of baking paper on a baking tray
- Form three, slightly different sized, circles of the mixture on the tray, just by using the spatula
- The biggest one should have a diameter of about 20 cm /8 inch
- Put the tray in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 100 C / 210 F
- If your oven permits you, use lower heating only (to prevent the meringue from getting brown on top)
- Bake for 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave in the oven for another 15 minutes
- Take out and leave to cool
- Put the heavy cream in a bowl and whisk until almost stiff
- Add 1 tbsp of sugar and continue whisking until incorporated
- Use the biggest meringue as the bottom, cover with some whipped cream
- Place the second biggest on top and cover again with cream
- Top off with the smallest one and cover generously with cream
- Decorate with fresh fruit