Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cultural Tidbits from and about France

It's summertime.  Ah, and I'm feeling weary, mes amis.  Weary of contemplating the iPhone4, of finding the Next Best Thing, of being cutting-edge and hip (or vaguely trying). Yes, I think a little nostalgia is in order. 

So here are a few new-but-old happenings from the French cultural scene. Or are they old-but-new?

1.  Step back in time and visit Jean Cocteau's house in Milly-la-Foret. which is now open to the public.

2. Every Sunday evening through August 8, you can (re)discover the tradtional guinguette -- bal populaire -- on the Canal d'Ourcq.  Dance the night away!

3. If you're inspired by the breathtaking television views of ancient architecture as the cyclists from the Tour de France speed by on the country lanes, well, you can dream of buying a chateau yourself.

4.  Remember the days of classic French cuisine without the guilt?  Remember the days of dining with silver and crisply-ironed damask napkins (or at least seeing photos of glamorous celebrities doing so)?  Do the names Elizabeth Arden, Tallulah Bankhead, and Emily Post ring a bell?  Would you like to know their favorite recipes?

You can re-kindle the flames of celebrity gastronomy of yore by picking up a copy of the recently re-published Spécialités de la Maison.  Originally published in 1940 by the American Friends of France (founded by heiress Anne Morgan), the book is now available in a new edition, with a foreword by VF editor Graydon Carter.  Still the same wonderful drawings by Clement Hurd and others.  Still the same old-fashioned recipes that we forgot we needed so desperately.  I drool:  Cold Roquefort Souffle (Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt);  Filet of Sole Veronique (Vivien Leigh); Mrs. George Washington's Crab Soup (Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The White House).  And on it goes. 

You need this cookbook.  You know you do.


Christine Hueber said...

What I need is someone who will expertly prepare the dishes for me who is also attractive to look at! ; )

Christine Hueber

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I hear you! I wouldn't mind fixing them, myself, as long as there was an appreciative audience.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog. Just can't remember how, but I just wanted to say thank you for cheering up my boring week!! I♥your blog!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Merci beaucoup! That cheers me up too.

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