My Birthday Bouillotte

hot water bottle

Today I turn fifty. Excuse my French—but holy crap!

I’m sure you’ve heard this a zillion times before, but I have no idea where all the time went. Believe me, when it happens to you, you’ll say it too.

Did I really go to college for four years then travel around Europe for another year after that? Did I really work away in restaurant kitchens, day and night for twenty-plus years? Did I actually hunker down in my home kitchen, here and there, melting chocolate and whipping up all those cakes in cookies? And what was I thinking, moving to a foreign country, one that I spoke barely two words of the language, and one where I didn’t know anyone?

Somehow, I thought that Paris was always lovely and warm one hundred percent of the time. I’d had images in my head of glorious walks along the Seine, bathing in the brilliant sun, nibbling on a dreamy pain au chocolat or lapping up a boule of creamy caramel ice cream from Berthillon. My life were certain to be picture-perfect, and I’d welcome the morning on my balcony and enjoy a steamy café au lait, catching a few rays while pondering how I’d fill the rest of my day.

Fast forward to December 2008; Paris is freezing-cold, and I spend my days figuring out how to keep my derrière warm. Seriously, no one told me that this city in the winter is a frigid enfer. When I planted myself in California twenty five years back, I left all my long underwear, silly-looking mittens, and woolen mufflers behind in frosty-cold New England. I don’t think too many Parisian men, or anyone over seven years old, wears mittens in Paris. But I just purchased my second pair of the year. Gloves may be more fashionable, but I don’t think purple fingers are all that chic, either.

From late November to early May, Paris no longer resembles a large, sprawling village, but an outpost in Antarctica. Albeit one with plenty of bakeries and pastry shops. And I’m walking around layered-up with long johns, sweaters, and an expertly-tied scarf, something I’ve tried to master. No Parisian would dare simply throw a scarf around their neck without making sure it had so many multiple pleats, twists, and knots, it’d make a seasoned seaman jealous.

It’s like there’s some competition to see who can tie their scarf into the most complicated series of knots. Unfortunately I’m still a clumsy novice and it takes me at least five minutes to tie my scarf comfortably just-right before hitting the streets.

(I’m still not comfortable wearing long underwear. Yes, it’s much warmer, but I feel like I’m walking around Paris in need of a diaper change.)

In addition to thinking every day here would be perfect, I also thought that those hot water bottles in the pharmacies were for the old or infirmed. Not for strapping young (…or young-ish…) bucks like me. It wasn’t until my pharmacist showed me how to use one that I’ve become a convert to bouillotte, too. In a gazillion years, I never thought that I’d fess up to owning one, filling the bottle every night with almost-boiling water before I crawl into bed, making sure that my lit is all warm and toasty, double-checking that the cap is very securely screwed on before we sandwich ourselves in between those coarse linen sheets.

So another year’s gone by, and here I am. I guess being fifty isn’t so bad. Aside from my scarf complex and a concern over how I’ll ever manage to walk around in adult diapers, should the need arise, the good thing about getting older is you stop caring so much about what people think of you.

Another position that’s popular is that one where I’m curled up around my hot water bottle. It’s not really such a bad position, but something I need to get used to. I’m certainly not getting any younger, so I have to resign myself to things like hot water bottles and skin-exfoliating sheets to maintain my bonne santé in these advancing years.

I don’t know what I’ll buy myself next year for my birthday, but I’ll likely need a new bouillotte by then. Mine’s getting a pretty good workout this winter, and neither of us is getting any younger.

But at least I’m sure that one of us has our cap screwed on pretty well around here.

And for once, I’m glad it’s not me.

Never miss a post!


  • Doolz
    December 27, 2008 4:50am

    Turning 40 was a breeze , 30 I still felt 20, but , but on my 50th I looked and felt 60.
    It’s tough but you learn not to take things too seriously and recognise beauty in the most unexpected places.

    Happy birthday Davey boy, and come down to Tassy for your 51st (it’s warmer), there is no place as lovely.

    All the best and thanks for keep Paris so alive for us.


  • December 27, 2008 5:37am

    if we’re fessing up I have to admit I’ve had a bouillotte for 4 years now and I’m 27, but its the only thing that works well in France where people keep their electric heaters at a minimum.

    love your bouillotte, be proud of it! and ignore anyone that calls you grandma while you knit in your comfy chair, bouillotte on lap. :-)

  • December 27, 2008 5:41am

    Get yourself some longies from!!!! They are so thin and so silky, they go right under your jeans no problem to keep you warm without that diaper feeling.

    Or, visit Austin. It’s balmy here.

  • December 27, 2008 6:05am

    Happy birthday David! I wish & hope to eat as many cookies, cakes, pain au chocolates, ice creams and salted caramels AND still look as young and fit as you do when I turn 50. And that, my friend, is no easy task. You’ve done great. I look forward to another 50 years of constant inspiration and eye candy.

  • Françoise
    December 27, 2008 6:18am

    Happy birthday David! I would never have guessed you were 50! And don’t feel bad about the gloves (I usually start wearing mine in September), scarf and hot water bottle. I have been making full use of them for years and I am only 33. And thanks for all your wonderfully entertaining posts – may you continue to write them for many more years!

  • December 27, 2008 6:41am

    Hi David,

    Happy birthday!! I love hot water bottles, hehe, they make sleeping in winter sooooo much easier!

    Looking forward to many more great posts. :D

    xox Sarah

  • December 27, 2008 6:59am

    Happy Birthday, David! May you have many years of happiness, sweet treats, and brilliant writing, as well as scarfs, mittens and hot water bottles for many winters in Paris!

    Paris in February a couple of years ago is my strongest memory of cold, really COLD. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how that freezing wind hit my (southern) bones! For some (masochist) reason, I go back to Paris every February – perhaps I should get myself a hot water bottle… ;)

  • Ursula
    December 27, 2008 7:08am

    Happy birthday, David!
    I’m relatively new to your blog and like it a lot. And I can top your bouillotte: at the tender age of 41 I got me an electric blanket which heats up my entire bed, well, almost. I cannot lie straight, or I will get cold feet.

  • December 27, 2008 7:17am


  • Eden
    December 27, 2008 7:22am

    Happy, Happy Birthday, David.

    I love your writing and have enjoyed reading your blog and Facebook page. Thanks for sharing your sweet life in Paris – hot water bottles and all. :)

  • Maria-Jose
    December 27, 2008 7:37am

    Feliz cumpleaños David! Happy Birthday!

    We’re also freezing in Madrid…. he,he.

  • craig
    December 27, 2008 7:37am

    Happy Birthday, David. Welcome to the other side of fifty. Every time I think of a hot water bottle I remember an “Our Gang/Little Rascals” episode when they all had to share a bed and bouillotte on a cold evening. The cap loosened and the rest is comedy history. Paris has the advantage of being able to carry a warm baguette home in a chilly breeze. As a kid in Michigan we would buy a quarter pound of spanish peanuts at the Sears store downtown, and carry the warm bag in our pockets as hand-warmers. I love the variety of improvised chestnut roasting stands on the streets of Paris at the holidays. Portable hot food…that is the answer. Mulled wine or soup in a bouillotte would be ideal, without the rubbery after-taste.

  • December 27, 2008 7:58am

    May the time from this birthday to the next big number be full of warm beds, neat scarves and much delicious food! Happy birthday!

  • December 27, 2008 7:59am

    Happy Birthday you old fogey!
    I’ve got a hot water bottle, too, with a cute little orange/white/chocolate striped knit cover, a gift from my British ex. I think the Brits use them from birth through death. The difference is the cover. Can’t have that bare rubber touching your skin, ouch!
    I’ll see you next week, have fun tonight!

  • December 27, 2008 8:31am

    Happy Birthday, David !!!!!

    I share this day with you, but I’m only turning 48 today… I’ve appreciated finding your blog this year – everything I’ve made from it has been amazing. And your sense of humor is delightful – it’s always a nice treat to see that you’ve posted.

    You need wool. Hand-knitted, warm, soft wool. Hand knitted socks are the absolute best for keeping the whole self warm and toasty… I could be bought with those candied-peanut choclates….

    Hugs, Aubrey

  • Joan
    December 27, 2008 8:46am

    Happy birthay, David – here’s to the next half-century!
    Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes and wonderful outlook on life in general. So true – turning 50 makes you just not care anymore what others think – very freeing! As for not “freeZing” – I recommend silk longjohns – lighter yet still warm. So here’s to warm bottoms, warm baguettes and warm hearts. Enjoy them all.

  • December 27, 2008 8:53am

    David, a very happy birthday! I am glad you are here and wish you (not very unselfishly!) at least 50 more years to your heart’s content.

  • December 27, 2008 8:57am

    Dearest David,

    How did I not know you were 50? Maybe I did but your wonder with life makes it easy to forget. In the few years that I’ve known you, you’ve made mine funnier, happier, warmer, and fortified. Thanks for all that you’ve done – and transforming and sharing it.


  • December 27, 2008 9:35am

    Happy Birthday David! I got some silk long underwear for Christmas and they are dreamy- no more diaper change feeling!

  • December 27, 2008 9:45am

    Happy birthday! I’m very much enjoying my 50th year though I also wondered where all the time went. Years ago, my husband and I saw an incredible airfare to Paris – in early April – and so spontaneously purchased tickets. We still laugh about walking down the Champs Elysees fruitlessly trying to protect ourselves against the freezing rain with an umbrella that had turned inside-out. Paris in the Spring, ha!

  • Katie K
    December 27, 2008 10:23am

    Bon anniversaire!

  • December 27, 2008 10:24am

    Joyeux Anniversaire David! I can’t believe you’re 50, you look so much younger! But it’s a good age:-)

    I loved my bouillotte until it died on me in the bed…have now upgraded to cherry pit pouches…

  • Brigitte
    December 27, 2008 10:29am

    David, what about an electric blanket……

  • December 27, 2008 10:48am

    Happy Birthday, David!

  • December 27, 2008 10:50am

    I know what you mean about freezing. I grew up here in Central NY and smartly moved away at 22–I (stupidly?) returned 3 years ago and freeze all winter long–especially now that my electric mattress pad has died. I’ve been making-do with an old sock filled with rice & microwaved to piping hot, tucked between the sheets.


  • December 27, 2008 10:59am

    All of the chocolate you enjoy is keeping you very young looking indeed!
    Bon Anniversaire!

  • cdelphine
    December 27, 2008 11:02am

    Happy birthday David! Thanks for keeping us entertained all year long with hilarious stories and delicious recipes.

  • December 27, 2008 11:13am

    Happy birthday, David
    Wish you all the best of luck!

  • December 27, 2008 11:34am

    Happy birthday dear one.
    I turned 50 a year and a half ago. I was thoroughly pissed off. 50 is half of 100. When did I get old? Uncool? Not pick up-able? What did I do with the 50 years that God gave me? Not nearly what I should have.
    I decided to come up with sort of a mission statement for my life. What I stand for put into words. That helped me a lot. But I was still 50.
    Now I am making lists of what I want and need to do. I think I want to be in the Enquirer doing something scandalous when I am in my 80’s, perhaps learn to hang glide and maybe date a spy. How fun would all that be?
    This past August I turned 51. No big deal. This one I am okay with. Besides, I don’t act it and I don’t think I really look it compared to some people who chose to become old fogies a long time ago. What fun is that? And unless all your photos that I have seen are from 20 years ago, you are a nice looking guy.
    I hope you have a wonderful birthday and that the next 50 years are an absolutely amazing adventure.
    Make 50 good wishes.

  • December 27, 2008 11:38am

    Happy 50th David. We are all cheering you on. 50 is the new 20 ya know. Just think of all the stuff you know. May you have a blessed and happy 50th year of life.

  • Susan
    December 27, 2008 11:57am

    Happy Birthday, David. This is what’s great about cyberspace..I can be any age I want..and I ain’t no stinkin! And, I’m not cold, don’t need long johns or diapers or hot water least, not that anyone here is gonna find out about, anyway ;)

  • December 27, 2008 12:22pm

    You’re only 50? 50 is YOUNG! We came here to France when we were several years older than you are today, and really, that’s the secret. Don’t let age per se, an artificial construct at best, slow you down. Keep chasing adventure and embrace all of life, even a bouillotte, as if it were the best thing that ever happened to you. Because it just might be. In fact, you’ve inspired me to get one for my husband, whose 62nd birthday is coming right up.

    Happy birthday, and many, many more.

  • December 27, 2008 12:25pm

    Happy 50th! That will be my next one too. Be glad you aren’t a woman at this time! I could do without the hot flashes and other associated peripausal symptoms! Cheers!

  • December 27, 2008 12:39pm

    Happy birthday! Is that photo on the right recent? I actually like it a lot. Debonair-like.

  • Martha in KS
    December 27, 2008 1:05pm

    Happy Birthday, David! I celebrate my 57th a week ago – by comparison you’re just a pup. Feel better? May I suggest an electric blanket. Many years ago, after my divorce, my mother bought me one with DUAL CONTROLS & made a joke about maybe someday having someone to use the second set. I learned to warm up both sides for myself. Oh well! Have a cozy day with your HWB!

  • Sheila Lynch
    December 27, 2008 1:30pm

    Happy Birthday! I love your writing and your recipes, both delicious! Looking forward to your May book release.

    I am 53, ancient, and instead of a hot water bottle I use microwave hot packs filled with herbs and buckwheat, three minutes in microwave and voila, stays warmer a lot longer with no potential water drippage. You can google hot herbal packs and find them all over. I like the homemade type with cotton covers.

    I love my 50’s, I am through with pleasing anyone but myself, and enjoying life immensely! Bon appetit!

  • Tracy
    December 27, 2008 1:40pm


    Happy Birthday! Thank you for another year of wonderful recipes and musing of life in Paris. Your experiences helped make our trip in May much easier. We loved the Velib in addition to all the pastries I could eat at any given moment.

    I just tried your ginger cake recipe and it was a hit! Looking forward to trying the orbit cake soon or a recipe from the blog. The banana cake has been a consistent winner with everyone. Thank you again and enjoy your day! Stay warm….SF Bay Area hasn’t been that warm either.

  • CityMinx
    December 27, 2008 1:46pm

    Happy Birthday David!

    Thanks so much for all the fabulous recipes, stories, and bon mots :)
    Have a fabulous day, and maybe in one post you can explain just exactly the correct way to use the hot water bottle?



  • December 27, 2008 1:56pm

    When I turned 40 I said the warranty was up.
    When I turned 50 I said there were no replacement parts
    When I turned 60, I was looking forward to my golden years but no one told me it was because your skin turns jaundice.

    You have at least 10 more good years before the body completely collapses.

    Happy birthday and many more (with or without the hot water bottle!


  • Steve
    December 27, 2008 2:13pm

    How do you say ‘geezer’ in French? (Happy birthday!)

  • December 27, 2008 2:16pm

    I graduated last year from hot water bottle to heating pad (with automatic shut off timer). Adjustable heating levels and I can wrap it around my cold little feet.

    Happy Birthday, David. You make 50 look cool.

  • December 27, 2008 2:19pm

    Happy birthday! Take lots of pictures of yourself because, regardless of how old you think you look today, in a few years you will look back fondly and exclaim, “D*** I was young back then. And good looking too.”

  • sam
    December 27, 2008 2:25pm

    You think you’re old and not very tough, eh? What about me? I’ll show you pathetic – I have been using my hot water bottle in sunny CALIFORNIA for the past month and I am barely a whisker past 40. And what’s worse (or perhaps better than yours) – is that mine has a super soft, fluffy furry cover to keep it extra cosy and snuggly. I highly recommend such a cover, not only will the bottle then warm up your lit, it doesn’t snore either.

  • December 27, 2008 2:54pm

    Happy Birthday David! I hope I can live my American in Paris dream like you someday, but I’m not sure how I can hold up to the frigid weather. I’m such a wimp – I’m bundled up from head to toe when it’s 50 degrees outside here in San Diego.

  • December 27, 2008 3:00pm

    “Happy Birthday, David!” I’m just looking forward to 40…and 50 doesn’t sound so bad to me! (Did you just roll your eyes at me?!) ;) And in Paris?!! (Forgive me…I have yet to be stripped of my doe-eyed adoration of that place.) In any case, hope the day was a happy and warm one for you!

  • December 27, 2008 3:11pm

    Happy Birthday!!!

    (and I love the hot water bottle idea, as a born and bred New England we have never used those, and I think it’s a fabulous idea!! My mother used to put a heated brick in her bed when she was a girl, and as a child we just shivered ’til it got warm. I am going out and getting on of these tomorrow so I can jump into bed and be WARM!)

  • Belle
    December 27, 2008 3:34pm

    Happy Happy Birthday, David…May you be blessed with much joy, good health and prosperity in the coming year!

  • December 27, 2008 3:52pm

    Happy Birthday, David! Hope it’s as special as you are. :)

    I turned 50 last year (eek! a year ago already!) and celebrated with good friends … in Paris! Of course, this was during the warm and lovely long days of August. :D

    Stay warm, and many happy returns of the day.


  • rachel
    December 27, 2008 4:03pm

    Happy Birthday, David. I turn 19 on the 31st, and although this may make you want to choke me, I too am wondering where the time went. But while I am feeling slightly shocked at a mere 19, you need not feel the same – 50 is young, my friend. On Christmas Day, my mother, who recently turned 50 herself, exclaimed with surprise to my sister and I, “Your dad is turning FIFTY-SIX on MONDAY.” But eventually, we all agreed that, even if he did act his age – which he decidedly does not – 56 just doesn’t seem as old as it used to.

    And even if you are feeling a little older than you would like, au moins, vous pouvez prendre du plaisir au fait que, n’importe quel âge que vous avez, Clint Eastwood a semblé plus mal. Il est comme un zombie, n’est-ce pas?

  • jean
    December 27, 2008 4:11pm

    Happy Birthday. Here’s to many more.

  • Tags
    December 27, 2008 4:40pm

    Happy Birthday, David.

    My youngest brother and the best man at my wedding were both born on December 27, so it’s a great day.

    I turned 50 in August of 2007, and I still feel like a kid.

    Thanks for the great advice about the hot-water bottle. A little sous vide never hurt anyone.

  • December 27, 2008 4:50pm

    Happy birthday! Or mirthday, as it may be …

    I’m dedicated to my bed buddy, which is a bag full of rice you heat in the microwave. It stays warm for an hour or more. I even put an old tiny microwave in my bedroom closet so I can heat it conveniently. Super-decadent!

    It would be even more decadent in Paris. Je vous envie le froideur de Paris!

  • linda
    December 27, 2008 5:25pm

    Bonne anniversaire David Don’t worry about being 50 life just keeps getting better … remember it is all just attitude! Thanks for the great stories you make me smile each day!

  • December 27, 2008 5:45pm


    Happy Birthday!!

    I can understand why you would avoid old-style long johns (diaper, indeed).

    Have you tried silk ones? They are amazingly thin, add a surprising amount of warmth, and silks can’t feel bulky. You’ll be surprised. They are expensive, but wash out easily in a sink and dry quickly.

    I’ll see you at 50 in just a few years.

  • Joana
    December 27, 2008 6:08pm

    So many years reading your blog…today I finally decided to write you…

    Happy Birthday dear David!!!
    (now in Portuguese: Parabéns querido David!!! :-D )

    You are the most amazing fifty-years-old-guy in my life!
    Thank you for being there everyday…
    I wish you all the best.

  • Linda H
    December 27, 2008 6:31pm

    Happy Birthday, David!
    I appreciate immensely the time you spend keeping all of us entertained and informed about your life and all things chocolate.
    I, too, am a winter wimp. I spent too many years in sunny Arizona, not realizing until I moved back to Illinois that I had no circulation below the knees. The solution is an electric mattress pad for night and fleece socks and silk long underwear by day. And a parka so long I look like a walking sleeping bag helps, too.
    Don’t worry about 50, but make a list of the things you want to do before you reach 60, and check them off one by one. At 60, do it again for 70. It helps to keep a person focused.
    Have a great 2009!

  • Autumn B
    December 27, 2008 6:37pm

    I just got on your site to get the Persimmon Cake recipe after just getting off the phone with a good friend who ended up in Rome this year, and upon a holiday visit back to her home-state was telling me how her life seems so much like many many lives. Did we really? Seems such an appropriate question.

    and YES YOU DID.

    I shall add, ‘AND YOU WILL DO MORE’ on top of it all.

    Life is like a box of chocolates.
    Thanks for sharing the sweetness.

  • December 27, 2008 6:54pm

    happy birthday david !

    some fun facts about chilling paris : Actually, it should be much, MUCH worse :D . the latitude is nearly the same than Montreal, but france is protected by the gulf stream, that’s why you’re only chilling instead of chilling and having to walk on 30cm of fresh snow every winter day.

    I’ve also read that the temperature inside paris, because of all the buildings and human activities, is pretty close to the average temperatures of Toulouse (deep in the south for those who do not know) . the temperatures drop significantly when you go in la banlieue :)
    I laughed a lot about this picture perfect paris… I totally recognised myself about goint and living in a picture-perfect New-York :D.

  • charlotte s
    December 27, 2008 6:59pm

    Happy Birthday David! Hope this year brings you all that you desire… and that you stay really warm throughout the parisian winter :) i hope that looking back on the years that have passed only brings you satisfaction and pride for all that you have become…

  • December 27, 2008 7:20pm

    OMG, I truly thought you were turning 40 when I saw a tweet or something about this being a significant birthday. You’re doing great for 50 (which is YOUNG, just ask me!) Hope you’re having a wonderful birthday.

  • Hannah
    December 27, 2008 7:39pm

    happy birthday!!
    my grandma gave me my first hot water bottle when I was 6-ish….when I was nine, I thought I was too old for them :)

  • Angela
    December 27, 2008 7:49pm

    Happy Milestone Birthday, David. And remember, 50’s the new 30!

  • Jo Lynne
    December 27, 2008 8:20pm

    Happy birthday.
    to make you feel better, here are a few facts:
    1) San Francisco is cold and nasty.
    2) I passed fifty a decade and change ago. It doesn’t get worse. It doesn’t get better. It just rolls on.
    3) Diapers are not universal. Long underwear is.
    4) Vanity does not necessarily diminish with age.
    5) We miss and envy you. I want a chambre de bonne. Really want one.
    6) I thought you ware about forty.

    Something to make you feel worse:
    I just sent the presents for the entire eurofamily off today. They will be late. So what. The lines at Macy’s Post Office ended somewhere between the Allclad and the chocolate fountains.
    They are my last presents. about 10lb. About $103. US. That’s ten dollars a pound to send a bunch of stuff one way in a box. You, David, cost maybe half that much or a third of it to be propelled across the Atlantic and 3000 miles of North America to the chosen land.. And you get peanuts or awful pretzels and non alcoholic drinks. No more presents for anyone in Europe. Unless they are bought there.

    (The Post Office employee suggested I buy Best Buy gift cards for my French and Swiss relatives. They apparently aren’t tested for intelligence before they are hired.)

    Business here stinks, sort of (but if you know any great GM’s,let me know – or an Uberpastrychef for Egypt),. Nancy Silverton lost everything she got out of the La Brea sale to Madoff, and I wonder who else in the food world was in that pot. There were free chairs in the food court at the Downtown Centre (Nordy’s, Bloomindale’s) on Christmas Eve. Last year there were fist fights for seats.

    I would so love to be curled around a hot water bottle in Paris, it just about hurts

    That my envy should keep you warm.

    Happy New Year.



  • December 27, 2008 8:54pm

    You’re fifty! Until today, I thought you were in your late 30s. Joyeux anniversaire David!

  • December 27, 2008 9:06pm

    You’re still a young buck at 50. Says me, anyhow, at 56. I’m liking my 50’s quite a bit. You can get away with a lot more because you’re on the edge of being a senior citizen. You know, grumpy and grouchy and opinionated are fine for seniors.

    Yom huladit semeach. Happy Birthday to you.

  • arissa
    December 27, 2008 9:15pm

    Happy Birthday!

  • December 27, 2008 9:31pm

    I hope it’s been a wonderful birthday – happy 50th and many more wonderful birthdays!!

  • Ronna
    December 27, 2008 9:37pm

    Happy Birthday, David. I’m enjoying your blogs very much. My husband and I are looking forward to being in Paris again in May and checking out some of your recommendations. I just had a birthday too, a nice Jewish girl like me born on Christmas and I just turned 61 — aaghh!! Weird to think of that number as having anything to do with me! But the reason I’m writing is to tell you to encourage your American friends to mail you some flannel sheets!! Can’t imagine what we’d do without them and we live in California!
    Hope you had a very happy birthday. In my opinion, my fifties were great… it’s after that things start getting a little weird…

  • December 27, 2008 9:55pm

    Joyeux anniversaire ! Vous ne regardez pas un jour plus de 30 !

    Have a wonderful day and enjoy all the magic of Paris! I, too, am still trying to figure out to tie my scarf as the Parisians! :)

  • Guia
    December 27, 2008 9:57pm

    Maligayang Kaarawan, David! We were born on the same great year, 1958. Bid on your Cuisinart ICE-50 Ice Cream Maker for Menu for Hope V again, hoping to duplicate last year’s luck, all for a very good cause.

  • Bri
    December 27, 2008 10:07pm

    Happy Birthday David! Wishing you all the best in what is sure to be your best year ever! :)

  • December 27, 2008 10:08pm

    Happy birthday, and may you have many more years of a warm derriere.

  • December 27, 2008 10:15pm

    Happy Birthday!!
    May you have many years more of Paris, warm bottles and candy making to share with us! Love your blog!

  • Happy Birthday!
    December 27, 2008 10:26pm

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for your blog–I love reading it!
    Desde Tejas-

  • evie deMoller
    December 27, 2008 10:41pm

    David…………Happy Birthday to roux. Thank you for transporting me to the shops and markets of Paris on a daily basis. Bless you.

  • Charlene
    December 28, 2008 12:15am

    Hello David, Happy Birthday, Bon Anniversaire!
    If I can scan a card sent to me by my sister, you may smile–it reads “Maturity Rules!” (And inside–“You’re Older, Wiser, and Way Cooler!”) Hmmm “cooler” can be read 2 ways, given the subject matter of your post….
    I enjoy your writing & recipes so much, your photos and food styling as well.
    I hope another trip to Paris is in my future (and I believe it is)!

    miss you, have a Happy 50th and many more……..

  • M@
    December 28, 2008 12:17am

    Please, let me add to the felicitations. All the best, David, and many happy returns.

  • Smurfette
    December 28, 2008 12:19am

    Happy Birthday David and here’s wishing you many more! I’ve been a silent cheerleader of your postings for the past two years – and hope to enjoy them for many more years. In truth, your photos and stories were key motivators in my travels to Europe earlier this year. Paris was lovely in late May and the foie gras will definitely draw me back.

    Sending you some tropical sunshine as a birthday wish all the way from Palau (a very small place in the north Pacific)!

  • vera
    December 28, 2008 12:51am

    Believe me turning 60 (2 weeks ago) is much worse.

    A good Jewish hearted lady

  • Teresa
    December 28, 2008 12:55am

    Happy Birthday David! We had sunshine today in northern California, but it was still cold. Okay, you might consider it balmy compared to Paris, but we think it’s cold. I appreciate learning the benefits of the water bottle. I might have to use one to keep the heating bills down!

    I truly enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the great work. I know that no matter where you live, you will find great stories to tell.

  • Celia
    December 28, 2008 12:55am

    Happy Birthday David! Cheers to living your dream (even if it is freezing sometimes) and touching the lives of so many with your humor and jaw dropping recipes!

  • anji
    December 28, 2008 1:28am

    Bonne fete!!

    All I can say from my part of Canada? Electric blankets with timers… just on long enough to get you to sleep :)

  • December 28, 2008 2:42am

    Oh, you’re a Dog? Your Zodiac sign shows you as a humanitarian, a loyal friend and a hard worker. I should have known. And I believe it.
    Happy day to you in brrrrrrrr Paris!

  • December 28, 2008 4:24am

    Dear David,

    Happy, happy birthday! I hope your around and writing this blog for at least another fifty years!

  • Mila
    December 28, 2008 4:34am

    Happy Birthday!
    I remember using a hot water bottle when I was sick, my mom would wrap it and place it on my tummy. I think it would have been very useful when I was living in China, bitter winters and no insulation in those school dorms, ugh.

  • December 28, 2008 7:21am

    Just discovered your blog. I spent 6 years in Paris and 1 year in the South of France so it brings back many memories.
    Loved the post on the autoroute boutiques…I’ve found some fantastic stuff there.
    Will have a go at your mincemeat recipe.
    Have added you as a link to my blog. Have added you on twitter.
    So you have a fan.
    Happy birthday.

  • Sally
    December 28, 2008 9:30am

    I’ll be 60 in a few weeks. I’m wondering where the time went and why I haven’t accomplished more. But I’m not dreading it. Life is pretty good.

  • December 28, 2008 9:50am

    Happy 50th, David. I’ve used a hot water bottle for years. Ditto long underwear. Of course I live in Wisconsin.

  • Eileen
    December 28, 2008 10:56am

    This post gave me much-needed laughter this morning. And as a gift you, I will not go into why I need it… Your description of what you thought living in Paris would be is exactly what I have always thought living in Paris would be. I know in my heart (and mind) that no place is perfect and one reason I think Paris is the most wonderful place on earth is because when I’m there, I’m always on vacation. If I actually lived in Paris I would haul all of my life’s imperfections along with me and pretty soon it would be just like living here in St. Paul. MN (but honestly, it is better there, isn’t it?). And as for turning 50, I am now 55 and I wake up each morning and tell my self that on this day, I am the youngest I am going to be the rest of my life and I need to enjoy it.

  • December 28, 2008 11:15am

    Happy (belated) Birthday!
    I am so over winter. I can’t wait to move back to Cali. New England is so over. lol

  • December 28, 2008 11:56am

    Happy 50th David! I hit that number in June, and it’s been fun so far. Age is nothing but a number so don’t let it bum you out.

  • December 28, 2008 3:14pm

    Hi David,
    I admit it: I am a bouillote addict. I use it every day. It is simple, effective, low tech, cheap,comforting,
    Living in Berkeley where the nights are consistently cold, I rely on my faithful bouillote to:
    -first warm my feet while reading
    -then move it to my stomach to curl around and fall blissfully asleep.
    I don’t care that it is on the lower shelf of the senior special needs section at Walgreens, and that there is usually only two… the only thing I regret is that there is only one ugly color and style( now, with your post, americans will discover its virtues.. and buy the lot, darn).I bought one, a pretty turquoise, in a Parisian pharmacy, but it is nubby and thick, taking longer to warm up.yes, I can be picky sometimes about my bouillote.
    Joyeux anniversaire.

  • December 28, 2008 3:41pm

    Thanks everyone for your nice birthday wishes! I treated myself to a double order of silk long johns from (thanks for the recommendations), which will get hand-carried to me by my cousin who’s coming in a few weeks—and just in time!

    I had a great party and got some cool gifts, like a slab of 40 month old comté, a copy of A Platter of Figs, a mini video recorder (look out, Paris!), and an a-m-a-z-i-n-g giant, old mortar & pestle, which takes two people to lift.

    I’m not sure what I’m going to be able to do with it, but it sure is gorgeous. Here’s a picture of it on my Flickr page.

  • Anne
    December 28, 2008 4:44pm

    Happy Birthday David! and thanks for keeping the Paris dream alive for me, and I of course will plan my first visit whenever that will be ) for the springtime.

  • Narelle
    December 28, 2008 4:52pm

    Happy belated birthday David! I agree with Kayenne…you look great in that photo

    all the very best

  • avril
    December 28, 2008 5:23pm

    I’m an avid fan of yours but I’ve never left any comment in your posts. But this time I must! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Have been to Paris once only and I love it! Lucky you!

  • Margie
    December 28, 2008 9:34pm

    Dang it! I’m late, as usual in wishing one the best on their very own day, but…here goes:

    Happy ‘belated’ Birthday, David! and again, thanks for such a fun blog. :)

  • Julialuli
    December 28, 2008 10:57pm


    Buy yourself a couple of pair of silk long underwears (as we call them) for your birthday! Does LLBean ship to Paris? :) You will no longer feel like you are wearing a diaper!

    When we have extremely cold nights, I wear just those to bed and I stay toasty all night long. You can get them in long sleeve t-shirts and even turtlenecks, and the pants as well. They are very thin and unobtrusive under clothing!

    When I lived in Alaska, I wore the old polypropene long johns, but these are way better.


  • December 28, 2008 11:34pm

    A belated Happy Birthday, David! I actually just got back from Seattle and saw this post in my reader and said aloud: “David is 50?” That’s because you’re the youngest 50 year old I know! Hope you had a happy day and that you continue to grow old like Benjamin Button. At this rate you’ll be 20 again in no time :)

  • Ceji
    December 29, 2008 12:07am

    Happy Birthday David!

    I’m in sunny san diego and still need to sleep with a bouillotte, though mine has a little fleece cozy around it.

    Here’s to 50 and many more!

  • December 29, 2008 12:19am

    Happy Birthday!
    Loved reading your post, turning 50 must really bring some thoughts, I imagine (I’ll find out in 17 years). I just bought my husband some long johns too. You do what you gotta do, right?

  • December 29, 2008 1:01am

    I’m shocked that you’re 50! I would have never guessed.

    Bon Anniversaire from a 30 year old seriously contemplating some long johns and envious of your beautiful blue water bottle.

    -frozen in Schenectady, NY

  • December 29, 2008 5:07am

    Don’t check on your blog for a few days and something important happened =/.

    Anyways, happy belated birthday!

    50 is the new 40 =)!

  • December 29, 2008 12:29pm

    Bon Anniversaire mais un peu en tardif! I’ve had a bouillotte since I was 24 and my only fear is that one day the cap will come loose in bed and I’ll wake up thinking I need diapers!

  • December 29, 2008 1:46pm

    Happy Birthday David, from one 50 year old to another. I took up yoga as I thought bending over to pick up a sock shouldn’t put me in traction. Close to a year later, I’m not necessarily embracing 50, but trying to give it a warm hug because I know it’s going to treat me a lot better than 60 is. Cheers and warm wishes.

  • Margaret
    December 29, 2008 2:20pm

    Another member of the 1958 club–congratulations! I turned 50 in September and celebrated by spending 2 weeks in Paris in November. In addition to the silk undies, check out the next-to-the-skin 100% merino wool “base layer” garments made by Smartwool and Icebreaker. They are GREAT, super comfy and warm. Instead of a hot water bottle, I have a small muslin pillow filled with jasmine rice that I heat up in the microwave–I never worry about it springing a leak! It also smells really good when warmed up. Happy belated b-day! Your blog is one of my absolute faves–keep up the great work.

  • Rona
    December 29, 2008 4:36pm

    Cher David,
    Sixteen years ago, when I turned 40 and was pretty freaked out by it (cause I felt and still do feel like I’m 25), my dear friend Thom told me 40 isn’t fatal!. That puts it all in perspective for me. So, Happy Happy Birthday and remember 50 isn’t fatal, it’s just the beginning of a wonderful new time in your life.

  • December 29, 2008 4:46pm

    You are making me feel very old. I am 29 and love hot water bottles! I was forced into it by a cruelly cold apartment a couple of years back…

  • liz fazenda
    December 30, 2008 6:17am

    Hi David, have just discovered your blog while looking for a chocolate mousse recipe. First of all happy birthday and boy do I know what u mean, I turned 50 way back in april and the build up to it was ghastly(it took up the whole brain area!) for about a month and then on the day I just took it all in my stride. So take it from me it gets better ! Funny that u talk about a hot water bottle, just last night for the first time ever I also slid a hot water bottle into my bed after having sat with it on my feet and wrapped in a polar blanket and sleeveless ski jacket in front of my computer which is next to a typical quaint parisian closed window that lets in so much cold air that the curtain rustles in the breeze…It’s not really to do with age cos my 13 year old is always asking for a hot water bottle too and oh yes I wear mittens too this year at my ripe old age but they are very grown up ones from Paul Smith so I feel better.
    Take care and I’m glad I’ve discovered your blog. HAPPY NEW YEAR
    from a portuguese, ex south african educated, zimbabwean born, parisian 50 something resident

  • December 30, 2008 11:02am

    Happy belated birthday David!

  • Deborah Kwan
    December 31, 2008 2:59am

    Happy belated birthday David! This brings to mind the rubbery scent of the grayish pink hot water bottle from Woolworth’s that my mom used to slip into my bed when I was a child. Yours looks oh-so-chic!

  • Murasaki Shikibu
    December 31, 2008 3:48am

    With a few modifications….it sounds like my life…

    Happy New Year, David. :)

  • December 31, 2008 8:22am

    Bon anniversaire David. Oh yes, Paris en hiver, especially in the train stations, galère, non ? Tout plein de bonnes choses pour cette nouvelle année.

  • December 31, 2008 11:28am

    Bon anniversaire aussi!!!
    No one thinks thermal when they think of Paris…
    just chocolates and macarons.
    What a mistake. But the hot waterbottle is news to me…la prochaine fois!
    BONNE ANNEE 2009!

  • Jill
    January 2, 2009 12:35pm

    Two words for the next year: silk long undies and Egyptian cotton. Both can be ordered online and yes, both are each one word.

    Happy Birthday

  • Lilia Dignan
    January 2, 2009 4:07pm

    Cher David,
    Bonne Anniversaire!!! A little late but have been babysitting and waiting for the birth of another granddaughter and she arrived a day before yours on Boxing Day. Now we can celebrate hers and will always remember that yours come after.
    50 is young — I celebrated mine many moons ago and still feel wonderful at 67! Just keep wearing your silks and mittens in the winter. If it is any consolation, it has been cold in San Francisco. BRRRRR…………

  • Anna
    January 2, 2009 6:54pm

    Bon anniversaire David! Was grateful to discover my first bouillotte at 18 during a very cold winter in France! Found your blog today In looking today for another kind of bouillotte, a style of French lamp designed originally in the late 18the century for playing the card game Bouillotte. Perhaps for next year’s anniversaire, a Bouillotte lamp to make your bedside cozy?

  • January 3, 2009 11:24pm

    Happy birthday! You don’t look 50 at all. Maybe late 30s.

  • January 6, 2009 12:26am

    Happy Birthday!
    Well, I just got back from Paris yesterday and now I know that I’ll be spending my 40th birthday in my favorite city in the world with the man I love. Yes, he’s French and Paris has never stopped being my “home”.

    As long as you have love and job that you love, Paris is never too cold.

    Ciao Bello!

    Felicia, This Time Now

  • Skip O.
    January 6, 2009 9:09am

    Dear David, As usual, I’m late to the fair: I only GOT my computer for my 50th (!!!) and it took me 18 mos. to pick one out. THEN it took forever to wake up to your perfect blog. NOW I’m ages late on wishing you a Happy Birthday and a joyous year! I too am a December baby, and wasn’t fazed by my 50th (having embraced despair at the age of 11), but this year when people wished me a H.B., it sounded like some sort of crack! I don’t think you realize how much true happiness you’ve given the world, and what an inspiration your example you provide: consequently, you will never look your age – even at 120 you’ll have the look others strive for. Happy Birthday, dear fellow, and THANK YOU for making the life of the world so sweet!
    p.s. the silk long- johns work like a ding dong in the Alps, try ’em

  • Skip O.
    January 6, 2009 9:12am

    Now I understand why one should preview!
    p.p.s.- bricks warmed in the oven, and wrapped in thin towels! S.

  • January 9, 2009 12:27am

    50 is the new 40 they say, so don’t worry. And I, with everyone agree, get an electric blanket. I love mine in the winter, especially when my cheapo building manager decides it’s not cold enough to provided heat (in the winter in NYC no less)! Stay warm.

  • January 14, 2009 7:37pm

    But David, how can this be? You don’t look a day over 49!

    Just kidding, of course. You could easily pass for a 48-year old. ;)

    Happy Birthday, and a big hug!

  • January 15, 2009 10:00am

    bon anivarsare! (a little delayed)
    my grandma used to warm up honest to goodness clay building bricks in the oven, wrap them in towels for us to warm our feet with when we slept over their house in chilly Syracuse, NY…
    such wonderful memories of fighting with your siblings over to try and keep your feet against the toasty warm brick at the foot of our beds…

    thanks for creating a wonderful blog with some great stories and fun photos and for helping to bring back some fond childhood memories!

  • Pam
    January 17, 2009 7:06pm

    I used to live in Montreal, where the scarf-tying attitude is similar to Paris (or so I’d imagine)…This is my favourite way to tie a scarf:

  • jacqueline
    November 1, 2009 6:13pm

    re. ventilation: hasn’t anyone told you that an open window will let in” courants d’air”
    and that that will bring in all sorts of diseases.

  • jacqueline
    November 1, 2009 6:29pm

    Those fur covered bouillottes came from “maison de vacances” a lovely shop in Paris.

  • Anna
    December 6, 2010 6:53am

    Have you ever tried an electric heating pad? My older sister had to have one when she lived in a drafty apartment in Memphis, TN. Hard to imagine it being cold there but it snows every year so… She says its amazing and really worth the price (it is more expensive than a bouillotte but way more effective). Buy one of those for your birthday! lol i just saw that its been 2 years since you posted this. for xmas then.