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London and Paris Book Events

My Paris Kitchen

– Next week I’ll be doing a chat and book signing on Monday, June 2nd, in London, in conjunction with the folks at Toast. There will be snacks, treats, nibbles, and – yes, cocktails! Sign up here.

– And on Saturday, June 7th, I’ll be at WHSmith in Paris from 3:30 to 5pm signing books as well. No need to sign up. Just stop by!

q & a

Rocky Road

I just returned from a four-week book tour where I met a lot of people. Everyone was incredibly nice and it was a treat, although because of the nature of the events, it wasn’t possible to spend lots of one-on-one time with anyone – including myself. However, I tried to answer as many questions as possible. The most frequently asked questions were; “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” and, curiously, “When you are leaving?” I’ll assume the last one was people just being polite. (I hope!)

Another popular question was about mes bonnes adresses in Paris, or favorite places to eat. While I update the list on the My Paris page regularly, and there are more complete descriptions in the Paris restaurant category on the site, I suspect people thought I was holding out on them. (I swear, I’m not! – well, maybe one or two…but I have my reasons…) I was also interested in how many people were coming to Paris in the near future, which may explain the rise in airfares this summer, which are preventing us from going to Cape Cod and having a lobster, steamer clam, beer, and corn-on-the-cob fest.

Continue Reading q & a…

My Paris Kitchen book tour

My Paris Kitchen

I’ve finally reached a milestone in my life because I am actually going on a book tour. Yes, I can barely believe it myself. After years of publishers hiding me, aka “the loose cannon,” they are releasing me into the wild. I’ll be heading to the U.S. and Vancouver for a series of events to mark the release of My Paris Kitchen. While I’d love to go everywhere*, there’s only one (1) of me, and fifty (50) states – not to mention the provinces, territories, and wilds of Canada. However, if anyone can get me to Hawaii and arrange an event close to the beach, I will work on my publisher to find a way to accommodate that one. (But you may have to invite them to come with me.) So, in spite of how easy the airlines make it to change tickets, and the low-fees involved in doing so, this is it.

Continue Reading My Paris Kitchen book tour…

Recipe Attribution

Halloumi cheese recipe

I’m often asked about using recipes which have been published elsewhere – in books, online, and in newspapers and magazines – and republishing them elsewhere. It’s become a greater issue these days where recipes can easily be republished on the internet with a touch of a button.

As the US Copyright office states:

“Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.”

Part one is specific, saying that a list of ingredients is “not subject to copyright protection.” However the second sentence leaves the question open to discussion. But the bottom line is that you should not copy sentences, phrases, and specific wording from other authors without their permission. If so, you may be committing plagiarism. If you are a publisher, including if you have a blog or website, it is strongly suggested that familiarize yourself with appropriate laws that come with the responsibility of publishing.

While it’s true that recipes are meant to be shared, people do so in cookbooks and on the internet to share them with their readers. Because someone is published on the internet does not mean that it’s okay to steal or take it. There’s a difference between sharing and taking. Think of it as having a recipe box: If you’re visiting someone’s house and love their apple pie recipe, you ask for the recipe. You don’t wait for them to leave the room and swipe it from their recipe box, then call it your own. Or if you see an apple pie recipe that you like in a book, you might want to jot it down on a recipe card and put it in your own recipe files. But it’s not okay to photocopy the recipe or copy it word-for-word and publish it in a book, newspaper, or online on a website or blog.

The question that frequently comes up is if you can use someone else’s recipe on your website or blog. The answer is that you cannot cut and paste content directly from one website onto another (yours) unless you have their permission. If you wish to republish someone else’s recipe, you should do what newspapers and magazines do and “adapt” the recipe, which means that you’re not just changing a few words around, but actually completely rewriting the recipe in your own words, explaining how you made the recipe. (Which, if you have a blog, your readers will appreciate more than if you are cut-and-pasting someone else’s words onto your site.)

If you want to use someone else’s recipe on your website or blog but don’t want to rewrite it, you should simply provide a link to that other person’s recipe on their website or blog, so that the recipe is properly attributed and reader’s can find it at the source. You do not need anyone’s permission to link to content on their website. You only need it if you wish to republish it on yours. The same goes for photos. There have been legal cases where people have been fined substantially for doing so. Doing a Google search and finding an image does not mean that you can use it just because you found it on the internet.

(Some say that you should not publish things on the internet if you don’t want them to get stolen, which is ridiculous. That’s like saying singers should not release recordings if they don’t want people to illegally download them, or that films should not be released if the producers don’t want them copied. Content creators have legal protections and it’s up to others to respect them.)

But when is a recipe completely yours? That’s a question open to interpretation. Obviously there are thousands of recipes for brownies and cheesecake, so there is going to be a lot of crossover in recipes, and a few that have the same proportions. In general, recipes that are considered “basics” (such as most tart dough, shortbread, vinaigrette, and the like), are fair game.

The rules that most cookbook authors and food writers follow are these:

1. If you’re modifying someone else’s recipe, but it resembles the original, it should be called “Adapted from.” If publishing it online, provide a working link to the original source of the recipe (preferably the author’s website, or the publisher’s website) and as a courtesy, a place on the internet where the book can be purchased.

2. If you’ve changed the recipe quite a bit and you’ve reworked several aspects of it, but you were strongly influenced by someone else’s recipe, you should say it was “Inspired by,” and provide the same links as above.

3. If you change a recipe substantially so much so that one wouldn’t recognize it as someone else’s recipe, you may be able to call it your own. And example might be if someone has an olive oil-orange cake, and you swap out butter of the olive oil, use lemons instead of oranges, and grind up oats and use them for the flour or nut meal in the original recipe. Then you can call it yours, although in my experience, often the story of how and why you adapted it is an interesting story. In which case, you could certainly say where and how you came up with the recipe that you’re publishing.

When in doubt, always give attribution. If you’re not sure if those Chocolate Pancakes were actually inspired by that recipe you saw in a cookbook a while back, be a sport and give the cookbook a nod. You’re never wrong to give attribution, and to me, finding inspiration from someone else invariably makes excellent headnote material.

If you’re adapting a recipe from a website, link to that site’s original recipe page URL. If you’re adapting a recipe from a cookbook, link to that cookbook on Amazon, the publisher’s website, and/or the author’s website. You can adapt a previously published recipe and republish it, as long as you give attribution. But it should not be a word-for-word republication without permission. When it doubt, ask, then get it in writing.

As many bloggers have unfortunately learned, content theft is rampant, as well as infuriating. Don’t be one of them. While people like to nitpick, it’s best to err on the side of caution and attribute as best you can. As cookbook writer Joyce Goldstein wrote “You can’t measure ethics” so the old rules of changing three ingredients, or adding in a few extra words here and there into a previous published recipe, doesn’t make it yours. It’s always a good idea, ethically and legally, to cite your source of inspiration.

Related Links and Further Reading

[I originally published a version of this article on Food Blog Alliance.]

Paris Book Signing This Sunday

perfectscoopThis Sunday, I’ll be doing a book signing with my friends at The House That Jack Built as part of their Valentine Jumble Sale. The event will take place at Le Mary Celeste (1, rue Commines, 3rd, Métro: Filles du Calvaire or République).There will be copies of The Perfect Scoop sale priced in hardcover and paperback, in addition to a limited amount of copies of The Sweet Life in Paris and Ready for Dessert.

I’ll be there from Noon to 3pm (the sale continues until 5pm) and you’re welcome to bring copies of previously owned books you’ve purchased elsewhere. There will be vintage items, cocktail punch, and Alison’s sweet-salty treats. So if you’re around this Sunday – stop by and say hi!

Should You Remove the Green Germ from Garlic?


Garlic has a season, and depending on where you live, that season is usually spring through mid-summer. In France, we get ail nouveau, which are heads of garlic that are very plump and slightly soft, whose moist skin is tinged with a bit of pink. As it ages, the garlic becomes more rosy in color, and there is even a special “rose” garlic in France called ail rose de Lautrec, whose status is certified by the French government. As the months progress, garlic season ends and the remaining heads go into storage.


In France, garlic that has been kept is often referred to as ail sec, or dried garlic. And in many cases, during storage, those cloves of garlic will develop a green germ inside that is said to be bitter and should be removed. I know, because I’ve said that myself. But I’ve never really put it to the test. So when a friend, who worked closely with Marcella Hazan (an expert on Italian cuisine) told me that Marcella never removed the green germ (her reasoning being that since it was new garlic in the making, it was tender and not bitter), I figured it would be interesting to see – and taste – if removing it really did make a difference.

Continue Reading Should You Remove the Green Germ from Garlic?…

Judy Rodgers

I was deeply saddened when I heard that someone who happens to have been a culinary icon (and hero) of mine, and who I was fortunate enough to work with in the kitchen, is no longer standing behind her stove. This morning I learned that Judy Rodgers the chef-owner of Zuni Café, had passed. I was fortunate the work with Judy for a few years on and off at Chez Panisse. Judy was incredibly dynamic as a person; so much so that I think even she had trouble dealing with all her energy! She was also a dynamic cook. And like the best cooks, her food wasn’t ever about her: It was about the food.

The roast chicken with bread salad at Zuni was the most iconic dish she made and was always worth waiting for. (Although once we drank too many martinis from the bar while we waited for it, and when I got home, I realized that I’d skipped out on the bill! – which I did go back and pay the next day.) The Caesar Salad at the restaurant was the best you could get, as were the pillow-light ricotta gnocchi and the excellent hamburger, which was perfect in every way. Whatever Judy made, was the best. In fact, one of the best things I ever ate in my entire life was a simple salad she’d handed to me one night at Chez Panisse, composed of escarole, rabbit loin, potatoes, and garlic confit smeared on toasts, all tumbled together with a warm, mustardy-dressing. I never dreamed a simple salad could taste so good, and I still remember the exact moment when I put the first forkful in my mouth – it was so, so good, and I still think about it nearly twenty-five years later.

Continue Reading Judy Rodgers…

San Francisco Booksigning at Omnivore Books

Hey! I’ll be doing a booksigning at Omnivore Books in San Francisco on Sunday, December 8th.


The shop is located at 3885 Cesar Chavez Street (at Church) and I’ll be there from 3 to 4pm. Copies of The Sweet Life in Paris, The Perfect Scoop, Ready for Dessert and The Great Book of Chocolate will be on available.

Stop by and get books signed for holiday gifts, or for yourself. And if you can’t make it, or live elsewhere, you can order a signed book to be sent to you. Contact Omnivore Books to make arrangements.

The Sweet Life in Paris (hi res)