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Harry and Caresse Crosby’s Lessons in Polyamory

I am trying hard not to be faithful. I am trying to keep my options open. I fall in love too easily. When I find someone I like I am all in right away, head down at the archives, taking notes for a biography. I need to learn a thing or two from the legendary Lost Generation […]

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Iced Oysters and Iced Champagne: The Life of Isadora Duncan

When Isadora Duncan’s mother was pregnant with the dancer, she could eat only iced oysters and iced champagne. Isadora danced her first dances in the womb, she claimed, under the influence of those effervescent bubbles and slippery molluscs. And she kept right on drinking champagne and dining on luxuries until her dying day. She would buy buckets of champagne […]

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Legendary Paris Dinner Parties

Scads of American memoirists have rhapsodized about their wonderful meals in Paris’s restaurants, but Janet Flanner, who for decades wrote a fortnightly “Letter from Paris” column for The New Yorker under the pen name Gênet, preferred to recall the dinner parties. It requires a certain longevity spent in a city before invitations to dinner begin pouring in. […]

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The Rapture of Spring

In French there is an expression, sabrer le champagne, which means to open a bottle of champagne with a sabre. Before last night, I had never seen this trick performed in person. Sabrer le champagne is easily enough translated into English, but English possesses no equivalent expression to describe this wondrous spectacle, except the ultra-technical term sabrage. The […]

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The American

The very first place in Paris that Christopher Newman, the tourist-hero of Henry James’s 1876-7 novel The American, visits when he arrives is a fine restaurant. Newman is every bit the prototypical American that his name, with its allusion to the famous Genovese explorer and the world he discovered, suggests. The book opens in the […]

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The Dud Avocado

It’s easy to get lost in Paris, despite Baron Haussmann’s best efforts to impose order on the city’s street plan. Sometimes I get turned around by one too many adventurous forays from a main avenue, and wind up pointed in the wrong direction. I have google maps to sort me out of course, but is […]

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Truffles and Haschich

The recipe for haschich fudge that makes Alice B. Toklas’s 1954 cook book notorious may, at first glance, appear out of keeping with the general tenor of the work. What could this set of instructions for a concoction designed to produce “euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter” have to do with the twenty-three recipes for […]

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