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Pensées — French cuisine

Beaujolais Nouveau Day, an early Black Friday

Alsace Burgundy Champagne French cuisine

Beaujolais Nouveau Day, an early Black Friday

On Thursday at midnight, Beaujolais Nouveau hits the market.  This is a young wine produced from gamay grapes in the Burgundy region of France.  The wine is, as it were, the "first-fruits" of the vendanges or grape harvest, a time of festivity and communal hard work at vineyards from September to October.  The grapes are harvested by many hands and then pressed, after which the juice is fermented then given 6 to 8 weeks to mature.  Upon reaching its (youthful) maturity, Beaujolais Nouveau is bottled and then released at midnight on the third Thursday in November. Back in the 1980s, marketers turned the annual debut of Beaujolais nouveau into a big event especially in...

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Our fall reading list

Algiers Alsace Bourdeaux Brittany Champagne France French contemporary writer French cuisine French literature Morocco Muriel Barbery Normandy Paris Provence

Our fall reading list

L'automne est un deuxième ressort où chaque feuille est une fleur    -- Albert Camus  ("Autumn is a second spring where each leaf is a flower”) September has arrived and with it comes our favorite season!  There is so much to love about autumn:  The harvest cooking.  Hiking in the mountains.  Scenic drives through landscapes exploding with color.  And cool, crisp weather following summer's heat. It is also a great time for settling down with a good book--traveling in the mind's-eye perhaps to remote corners of France—from the comfort of one’s armchair and in the warm glow of one's fireplace.   In the spirit of harvest-sharing, we want to share some fall reading recommendations: Mastering the Art of...

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Northeast France: the Grand Est

Alsace Ardennes Champagne French cuisine Grand Est Jean-Jacques Waltz Lorraine Oncle Hansi Vosges

Northeast France: the Grand Est

As far as regions go, France’s Grand Est is just a big baby.  It was created in 2014 by consolidating the old provinces Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne and Ardennes into a single, large administrative unit.  It spans the northeast corner of the country and includes the city of Strasbourg and the Vosges mountains. Although it is very new, its regional distinctness has been centuries-in-the-making.  Its terroir--its geology, soils and climate--make it fertile ground for grape production (and for cabbages!).  Hence it produces some of the world’s best white wines.  It is also the birthplace of choucroute, an Alsatian cabbage charcuterie dish. ...

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Book spotlight: Gourmet Rhapsody

Bourdeaux Brittany France French cuisine Morocco Normandy

Book spotlight: Gourmet Rhapsody

  Before developing Renée and Paloma (two memorable personalities in The Elegance of the Hedgehog), author Muriel Barbery created the great Pierre Arthens, food-critic-for-the-ages and central protagonist in Gourmet Rhapsody.  Barbery is a master of monologue.  Her novels unfold through chapters that read like diary entries, progressively revealing the inner life of her characters.  The strength of her style is demonstrated by the success with which she develops believable characters of depth and complexity and then places them in evolving relationships with each other.  At the start of Gourmet Rhapsody (originally published in French in 2000 as Une Gourmandise), we learn...

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Doing raclettes on New Year's Day

France French cuisine

Doing raclettes on New Year's Day

In North America, we have many different ways to celebrate the new year.  For some, New Year's day is not complete without popping corks and sprinkled confetti.  For others, the main event is watching an ugly ball drop in the midst of a crowd of intoxicated onlookers. For others (in Philadelphia), string bands with fancy costumes provide a special, if somewhat strange, spectacle to mark the occasion. In France, oysters and champagne are staples of New Year's celebrations, but there are many unique regional traditions as well.  And each family adds its own twist.   When I was a child, we lived in France's Rhône-Alpes region (actually, since last New...

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