15 March 2009

A Nod to Dual Nationalities and Why Cupcakes Are Better

My son and I were born in NYC. My husband and daughter in Paris. A little over 30 years apart on both counts.

Raising dual nationality kids in a foreign country comes with surprising tiwsts. I often feel a little sad that my kids won't experience an American childhood like I did and I find weird Frenchisms invading our daily life at frequent intervals. Like when my son starts counting with his thumb as the "one" (the common French way of doing it) vs. the index finger as we do it in the US. Like when he tells me he drew with the "pencil blue" or asks if he can wear his "sneakers black." Last night I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said "saucisson" (a hard sausage), Comte (a cheese) and olives. The kid is 6. Shouldn't he be asking for mac and cheese or PB&J? And speaking of food, ask my kid what a bagel is or a slice and he will look at you like you just landed from Mars.

At 18 months, my daughter says about 30 words - it's a weird mix of French and English. For water, it's "de l'eau," hello and goodbye are not in her vocabulary but she says "bonjour" and "au revoir" to every person we pass on the street. And while my husband is "papa" to both of them, I am called "mom" by my son and "maman" by my daughter.

Not surprisingly, a lot of my long-term friends here are partnered with or married to Frenchmen. This means our kids all have dual nationality. A very cool thing, I think. I love the fact that both of my kids have two passports. It's so James Bond or Jason Bourne-ish!

A friend ordered some cupcakes for her son's 6th birthday and in honor of his Franco-American heritage, I made some Le 16H Gouter cupcakes (in this case, they were Nutella-swirled vanilla cupcakes with a cocoa-hazelnut buttercream) and some Butterscotch Chip cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream. The latter was made with my secret stash of Nestle Butterscotch Morsels (if you don't read David Lebovitz already, you should read his very funny post about these here). The birthday boy is a natural-born entertainer so I decorated them with colorful fondant stars for his show (party). I love the way these turned out. So simple yet festive. And after yesterday's disappointing order (more about that below), I needed proof that I could still make a good-looking cupcake.

As a final note on these, I am entering the cocoa-hazelnut ones in this month's Iron Cupcake: Nuts & Seeds. You can read about what I am competing for here. The Le 16H Gouter is one of my most requested cupcakes and the combo of Nutella and cocoa-hazelnut buttercream is just heavenly. Voting will begin no later than Sunday, March 29 at 8 p.m. at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER and will be open through Friday, April 3 at 12 noon.

Yesterday, I made cupcakes for a 3 year-old boy's birthday party and I used an image transfer technique I have used dozens of times on layer cakes without any problem. These did not work out like I planned due to the cupcake's relatively smaller surface and I was really unhappy. While I know the cupcake taste itself lived up to my standards, the overall look of them did not and it's something I need to work on as themed cakes/cupcakes are pretty popular with the under 7 set.

It did get me to thinking that there are so many reasons why cupcakes are better and here is one of them: there is no need to choose between Hello Kitty or Dora, or between Elmo or Cookie Monster, or whatever else floats your boat. With cupcakes, you can have all your favorites at your birthday party and eat them too! That's all for now, folks, I've got a boeuf bourguignon on the stove per my son's request and it needs stirring.....

1 comment:

  1. The star cupcakes look FREAKIN AWESOME!!! I love them, simple yet really striking. I would like to try this design myself someday!
    I think it is really special your kids have dual nationality, its something I would love... I think the kids knowing two languages from such a young age is a really special gift as well.