Aurelia d’Andrea

OP-Aurelia-by-Sophia-PaganThe recipe for a happy life, according to Aurelia d’Andrea, calls for one part great food, one part travel-adventure, and two parts companionship (human and animal, in equal measure). She’s living out her kitchen-inspired credo in Paris, France, where she blogs about vegan living, writes books, and eats way too many carbs.  Her next book, coming out in December, Vegetarian Paris, is the definitive guide on meat-free dining in the City of Light.

  • When, where and how did you find your first FUSAC? FUSAC was my lifeline when I moved to Paris the first time, in 2004. Just before leaving the US for France, a friend who had lived here told me how useful FUSAC had been to her, so I immediately began searching for it when I arrived from California. I discovered it in a little Irish pub in the 11e, then the online version. Soon, it supplanted all other reading material! Besides the practical content, FUSAC helped me feel connected to the greater Anglophone community. If it weren’t for FUSAC, I might still be wandering around Bastille looking for that perfect apartment to call home!
  • What was your first job in France? An ad in FUSAC led me to a wonderful job as a professional dog walker. My clients were all well-to-do, with amazing apartments in the best parts of the city. For a writer, this was good stuff—a chance to peek into the weird and wonderful world of others, and learn about their lives through their dogs!
  • How did you get into writing guide books? A friend mentioned that Moon Guides was looking for a writer for Moon Living Abroad in France, a how-to guide aimed at anglophones who want to move to France. With two moves under my belt, I definitely considered myself an expert, and was delighted that the acquisitions editor felt the same! That was three years ago, and I still haven’t stopped writing guides!
  • What is the most satisfying thing about writing guide books? The sense that I am saving people from the agonies that I endured as a newbie here is extremely satisfying. Take line-jumping, for example. If you know that everyone—including little old grannies at the supermarket—will happily help themselves to the spot directly in front of you if you’re not careful, you can begin planning your defense far in advance!
  • What was the impetus for writing a guide book for vegetarians in Paris? The food landscape has changed so much in Paris in the few years. Last year alone, a half-dozen new meat-free restaurants opened their doors! It was high time for a comprehensive guide dedicated to cruelty-free dining in the capital. Paris is the most visited city in the world, and vegetarians deserve access to all the things that make Paris so magical, including food and restaurants.
  • What did/do you parents do? Mom was all kinds of things, ending with a nurse. My father was an artist.
  • Sisters or brothers? Younger brother—who STILL hasn’t come to see me in France! (Gordon, are you reading this?!)
  • What is your chief characteristic? I am a hopelessly hopeful!
  • What proves you are becoming French? My husband said I uttered a gros mot in French while sleeping. I think that makes me an honorary française!
  • Your favorite occupation other than work: Traveling. Can someone please pay me for that?
  • The French expression that makes you smile: Oh la la.  It’s my all-time favorite French expression, simply because it performs so many functions. It can convey joy, anger, or amazement (like when the aforementioned granny is jumping the queue), among others. I also find it endearing when I hear little children saying it.
  • Your motto: Be kind to others.
  • Favorite smell? It’s a tie between fresh baguettes and purple roses!
  • Favorite patisserie? Anything on the menu at Vegan Folie’s on rue Mouffetard. They do dairy-free cupcakes, brownies, and cheesecakes. Not the most typical French treats, but they’re wonderful!
  • Favorite comfort food? Pomme de terre. I like it fried, baked, boiled, pureed—you name it, I like it. More so if its covered in sauce!
  • Favorite movie? American: The Wizard of Oz. French: Amelie! (and narrowing those down was brutal!)
  • Favorite place to eat in Paris? Chettinadu Mess on rue Cail in the 10e. It’s one of the few places you’ll find truly spicy food. They do a vegetarian thali that’s cheap and delicious, and it’s the only thing I ever order. Great friendships have been formed here over the years, too. My favorite waiter invited me to his wedding in India last year, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
  • What is your favorite building in Paris? The Lavirotte-designed beauty at 29 rue Rapp in the 7e. It is a work of Art Nouveau splendor that sends me OP-Aurelia-doorswooning every time I see it. I just learned that the front door was intentionally designed in the shape of … a specific region of the male anatomy. Have a look!
  • In which Parisian monument would you like to be locked in for the night? with whom? Printemps, so I could try on all those beautiful clothes that I could never really afford and pretend they were mine. I’d probably invite my husband, who likes clothes almost as much as I do. We’d have a little sartorial soiree that lasted ‘til sunrise!
  • What is your favorite bridge in Paris? Alexandre III, only because I love cycling across it, no matter what time of year, and seeing couples in their wedding-day finery getting their photos snapped with the Eiffel Tower standing sentinel in the background.
  • What are you currently reading? Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. It’s a non-fiction look at life in a Mumbai slum.
  • What music puts you in a good mood? Don’t hate me for it, but ‘70s disco.
  • A talented person who should be better known? My friend and fellow expat Terresa Murphy. She is a real renaissance woman who knows food like no one else. She teaches vegetarian cooking classes in Paris and also does market tours and wine-tasting trips to the Loire Valley. I’ve learned so much from her over the years, and respect and admire her creativity and smarts.
  • An animal that fascinates you? Humans. They are endlessly fascinating!
  • A good reason to like Americans: We’re adventurers who aren’t afraid to try new things. If we fail at first, we simply dust ourselves off and move on.
  • What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Euthanizing a family pet. It’s part of the job of being a pet “parent,” but a task I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
  • Do you have a pet? what kind? I have an obnoxious little Chihuahua mix who hails from California. She’s the neighborhood terror, lunging at old dogs and puppies alike. She’s great with children though!
  • Where is the place that you want to go the most? I’ve been to nearly all the places I’ve ever wanted to go, but Iceland is next on my list, and Burma after that!
  • What painting from a museum would you like to have chez vous? There’s a Matisse at SF MOMA that I would love to hang in my living room. It’s called “Woman in a Hat” and it’s loaded with color and so evocative of the Belle Epoch.
  • What is your next project? Moon Living Abroad in Paris, another how-to guide, this one focused on getting rooted in the City of Light.
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