November 10, 2006 at 12:41 pm | Posted in backstory, food | 13 Comments

On Monday night, I joined Robyn of The Girl Who Ate Everything for a long-anticipated tartare. Knowing how superior her photographic skills (not to mention her camera) are to mine, I decided to leave the digcam at home and let her worry over angle, lighting, and focus, while I contented myself with simply scarfing my food.

So, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys luscious photographs of steak tartare, canard aux pruneaux, mounds of french fries, oeuf a la neige, and a lovely poire belle helene, I heartily suggest you look here.

As for me… Well, it turns out that I am not 20 years old anymore, and my stomach lining is no longer made of steel. I enjoyed the meal very much, but it’s pretty rare that I eat dessert these days, much less two desserts (we shared). The upshot is, my body staged a full-on revolt, and I spent the next couple of days in bed, avoiding all rich and/or elaborate foodstuffs.

Which begs the question: what does a foodie eat when she is off her food?

At 3am on Tuesday morning, I vowed before God and man that I would never eat anything ever again. That resolution was short-lived, however, and by the following evening I had decided I could maybe manage a little cereal.

I’ve mentioned before that, due to the sour milk, the French are not too big on breakfast cereal. It does exist, however, and believe it or not, it actually tends more toward the sugary end of the spectrum than even American cereals.

As I lay in bed, trying to imagine what food my ravaged body might possibly be able to accept, I remembered something from childhood. Chocapic!


This was the only cereal we were ever offered when I was in summer camp, and it was considered a special treat. Normally, we received a veritable feast of coffee and hot chocolate, crusty baguettes, creamy-sweet butter, honey, jam, apple sauce, and assorted other delicacies. But I still remember the pandemonium on the day the chef de cuisine came out with a box of Chocapic: squeals of delight filled the air, and fifty chairs were pushed back as one as children scrambled to be the first to fill their bowls.

All this for some cereal? It was a mystery to me, but it wasn’t long before I, too, discovered the rich, chocolaty glory of the Chocapic. And this week, as my body rejected all the subtle, complex flavors this country has on offer, it turned out that Chocapic was the only thing that would do.

Or well, almost Chocapic. The real thing is, like most cereal, ridiculously overpriced, so I went with the off-brand:

Wheat Choco

Wheat-choco? Only in France would anyone consider the word “wheat” appropriate for marketing a chocolaty children’s cereal. I guess that’s why the generic brand is cheaper — they cut corners on their “appropriating American words in an effort to sound hip and appealing” class.

No matter — the substance was just as I remembered it.

chocolate petals!

Take note: this is no light and airy chocolate puff, a la choco-kripies or coco-puffs. This is the real deal — thick, heavy shards of chocolate, designed to maximize the density of chocolate in the bowl.

with milk

Add milk.


Stirring is necessary, or else the chocolate shards remain unpleasantly hard and unforgiving.


And when you’re done: chocolate milk!

Of course, I should note that real French kids don’t eat this cereal with cold milk — they dump it into their hot chocolate. Talk about decadence!


  1. that looks amazing.

  2. Oh, it was good.

  3. To look at, that cereal reminds me of the foamy things that are used for packaging stuff. But to taste, it’s quite yummy. It lends itself well to Duvet Days.

    The British version is called Chococurls or something.

  4. Embrouillamini — Now I’m curious: what’s the milk like in Britain? I can’t remember ever having it outside of tea.

  5. Oh my god, the cereal DOES look like the foamy packaging stuff! I hope it tastes better. Looks good…

    I’m so sorry you got sickly! :O I feel a-ok. Aside from the lethargy. Except that’s from LACK OF SLEEP, NEVER EVER GONNA GET ENOUGH SLEEP EVER OH GOD GOING INSANE yeah. That’s my prob. I’m so glad we got to eat out! We should do it again. We could eat something less stomach-hurty ye know. 😉

  6. Robyn — I choose not to blame my illness on the food itself, because that would mean possibly changing my diet, which I’d prefer not to do. But I will allow that maybe _two_ desserts was pushing my luck.

  7. It sounds like your remedy for over-indulgence is decadence! Only in Paris!

  8. Amanda —
    Well… It was only one bowl of cereal over the course of a whole day. That’s not *too* decadent, is it? Even if it is chocolate.

    Anyway, the point is, I feel better now.

  9. Of course a bowl of cereal is not too decadent, but I meant that you made it sound really yummy, and I’m very glad you feel better now.

  10. The milk in Blighty is AWESOME! I’m always sad when I go on holiday to Europe and I’m seperated from good-tasting milk. Semi-skimmed all the way, baby!!

  11. This is not a comment on your journal… Just wanted to share with you cuz maybe you can benefit from it for your book (which I would love to read) and I couldn’t find your email right this second from this computer…

    Long time no hear!


  12. […] Poire belle-hélène Amy made an excellent choice with the poire belle-hélène, a dessert that is kind of like an ice cream sundae like none I had ever eaten before. Slices of poached pear lie at the bottom of the bowl topped with vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, crème anglaise (methinks?), whipped cream and a sprinkling of almond slivers. So damn good. I have to order it again the next time I see it. Two gavottes, delicate crispy rolls of sweet nanometer-thick cookie, came on the side and I couldn’t help but buy a box of them the next day. Amy unfortunately got a bit of a stomach malfunction from the meal, but I hope she felt that it was worth it. I must thank her for the great company, restaurant recommendation, and bout with indigestion. Hopefully that won’t keep her from eating with me again. 🙂 […]

  13. I found this post by goggling “Chocapic”, I too have fond memories of it from my childhood and to this day I still try to buy a few boxes whenever I’m in a country that sells them.
    You missed out one incredible fact though, because the density of the flakes they still retain a bit of the crunch even after heavy milkage.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: