Skip to main content

The Paris Architect, Three Lives of a Roasted Chicken, and an E-Reader #FoodieReads

This shelter-in-place order has my reading patterns swinging from one extreme to the other. On one hand, early on, I couldn't focus on finishing a book. For the entire first month of staying at home, I barely read more than five pages in a sitting. Then, after the first month, I started feeling a little more normal and started going through the book pile on my nightstand. With our libraries being closed, buying physical books from Amazon was getting ridiculously pricey. So, I bit the bullet and ordered a device on which I could read ebooks. 

I finished the first book in just two days and have been steadily reading since I got it. One thing: Jake loves that I can read in bed without having a light on. So, I guess the e-reader was a good investment. In preparation for my June French exploration of pages and pours, I read The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.*

On the Page
We meet Lucien Bernard who is a French architect living in Nazi-occupied Paris. And, from the onset, he was fairly despicable. He is in a loveless marriage and keeps a mistress on the side. He only seems interested in making money and augmenting his reputation as an architect.

“While the French outside were getting by on scraps and acorn coffee, Le Chat Roux offered a choice of six kinds of fish or oysters, a bouillabaisse, rabbit, chicken, fruit salad, and even pineapple with kirsch. Having money was a wonderful thing, thought Lucien.”

Lucien gets a commission to design hiding spaces for Jews. Initially, he's in it solely for the money, but as time goes on, outwitting the Nazis and actually saving Jewish lives grows increasingly important to him.

This is a tough book to read or rather it's a difficult subject to stomach. And Belfoure is unflinching in his portrayal of the animal nature of man, of traitors, of spies, and of Nazis. However, the darkness is tempered with a sense of hope and eventual redemption. The book was good; I will certainly keep my eye out for future works by the author. 

On the Plate 

For a historical fiction, there were several passages about food that were striking.

“There was a shortage of everything. A Frenchman who insisted on an omelet made with at least a half-dozen eggs was hard-pressed to get one egg a month. Rationing had severely limited meat, milk, eggs, butter, cheese, potatoes, salt, and fish. Real coffee didn’t exist, so Celeste, like all Parisians, had experimented with acorns and dried apples, with little success. For some reason, carrots and roasted chestnuts were always plentiful so they made their way into every dish one could imagine. Adults had to survive on a measly 1,200 calories a day, with only 140 grams of cheese a month. People in Paris were always hungry. Food was all they thought and talked about.”
“After the cinema, they took a velotaxi to Le Chat Roux, where they could get all the hot food they wanted—for a steep price, of course. But Lucien enjoyed himself immensely watching Pierre wolf down potatoes, rabbit, fresh bread, and an éclair.”

But what inspired me into the kitchen was this paragraph...

“Lucien was quite proud he’d procured a roasted chicken for tonight’s supper. It had cost him a pretty penny—twenty times more than what it would have cost in peacetime. But it was worth it. He knew Pierre would smell the delicious aroma the minute he came through the apartment door and come running. That sight alone was worth the money.”

I roast a chicken almost every week. It's a great way to stretch a high quality protein into multiple meals. First, it comes to the table like this: roasted. We carve off pieces and eat our fill.

After that first meal, I shred the meat from the bones to include in chicken salad sandwiches or to fold into an omelette.

Then, the carcass goes into a souppot - along with the veggies that were roasted beneath the chicken - to be simmered into a bone broth.

This is my go-to recipe for roasted chicken...

  • olive oil
  • 4 to 6 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and cubed
  • 3 to 4 celery ribs, thickly sliced
  • 1 chicken (I usually pick one that about 5 pounds)
  • 2 to 3 organic lemons, halved
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper 
  • olive oil
  • Also needed: 100% cotton twine for trussing, thermometer

Preheat oven to 425F°. Scatter the carrots, onion, and celery pieces in the bottom of a roasting pan.

Dry the bird, inside and out, and stuff with the lemons. Truss the legs with cotton twine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, breast side up, in the center of a baking dish, on top of the veggies. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil. Roast for 60 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 450F°. Uncover and roast until the skin is golden brown and crisped. 

You want the internal temperature of the thickest part of the bird to be about 165 degrees. My 5 pound chicken usually takes about 75 minutes total - 60 minutes (covered) at 425F° and another 15 minutes (uncovered) at 450F°.

Once your chicken has reached the proper temperature, check with a thermometer to be sure, remove the chicken from the pan and flip it breast-side down so that the juices flow into the meat. Let it rest like that for 15 minutes before carving. 

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in May 2020: here.


  1. Sounds like an interesting read. I was reading Around the World in 80 Dinners but then we started on the deck and I haven't picked it up again. I haven't forgotten about sending you The Henna Artist, I just haven't packaged it up yet.

    1. I saw your halva recipe and was just reminded about that book. No rush. I have plenty to keep me busy.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Jamaican Stew Peas #EattheWorld

  Here we are at November #EattheWorld event. What a year this has been! This challenge has been one that gave us some excuse for virtual travel as we've been sheltered-in-place with the coronavirus epidemic for most of 2020. So, we've been able to read about different parts of the world and create a dinner, or at least a dish, with that cuisine. This Eat the World project is spearheaded by Evelyne of  CulturEatz . Read more about  her challenge . This month, Evelyne had us heading to somewhere tropical: Jamaica. I have actually been to Jamaica, but it was almost thirty years ago...and it was just a jumping off point for the rest of our Caribbean exploration. I don't remember eating anything at all! Pandemonium Noshery: Pumpkin Rice   Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Jamaican Stew Peas  Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Jamaican Chicken & Pumpkin Soup   Palatable Pastime: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Burger   Sneha’s Recipe: Jamaican Saucy Jerk Chicken Wings With Homemade Jerk Seas

Lamskoteletten op zijn oud-Hollands for #TheBookClubCookbookCC

Here we are at April's #thebookclubcookbookCC event. It's hard to believe that we only have three more months in this year-long journey to explore - and cook from -  The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors  by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.* Judy, Vicki, and their publisher,  Tarcher-Penguin ,  have provided the hosting bloggers with copies of the book plus copies to giveaway each month of the project. Woohoo. Incredibly generous. This month Sarah at  Things I Make (for Dinner)  has selected  Girl With a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier.** Click to read  Sarah's invitation . She shared the recipe for Griet's Vegetable Soup, but invited us to find inspiration in any of the pages. On the Page... While the boys were playing around the lake during our week in Tahoe earlier in the month, I stayed by the fire and finished this book in one sitting. Loved it. photo by R

Pistachio Dukkah for #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, we are sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones, or things to serve at holiday parties. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule:  here . This week, we are "going nuts" and sharing all sorts of recipes with nuts. Think spiced nuts or nutty fruit cake or whatever floats your nutty boat! Here's what we're posting this week... Amy's Cooking Adventures  shared her Salted Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookaholic Wife  cooked up Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds Making Miracles  made Honey Roasted Almonds Christmas Tree Lane  posted Crockpot Spiced Nuts A Day in the Life on the Farm  wrote about the Easiest Nut Brittle in the World Sew You Think You Can Cook  prepared Orange Rosemary Roasted Almonds Culinary Adventur