Archives

The Benjamin Franklin Diet

“A Full Belly is the Mother of all Evil,” Benjamin Franklin counselled the readers of his 1743 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack. For some mysterious reason this aphorism hasn’t had the sticking power of some of the inventor’s more famous sayings, like “he who lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas,” or “fish and visitors stink in […]

Read More

Elizabeth David & Coming Home

When Elizabeth David came home to Britain in 1946, after spending the war years in Egypt, her agonies from the the flavorless diet she rediscovered drove her to write a cookbook recollecting all the wonderful things she had eaten during her absence. Britain was at the height of postwar rationing and gristle rissoles were on the menu, along with flour […]

Read More

Robert Burns Night à Paris

Gertrude Stein famously wrote that a writer has to have two countries, “the one where they belong and the one in which they live really.” By living abroad, writers discover their native countries within their minds’ eyes. But what about when you have three countries? This is the situation I find myself in, living in […]

Read More

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. […]

Read More

Damn recipe for chicken à la Maryland

  Nicole Diver, the anti-heroine of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel, Tender is the Night (1934), first appears in its pages lying on a sandy beach near Cannes, sunbathing and writing out a list from a book propped open before her. Nicole shimmers into sight as a vision of unparalleled glamour – her bathing suit straps […]

Read More

Égalité of the stomach, at least

Outside every public school in Paris the French flag flies above the door and the lintel is engraved with the nation’s motto, “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” The government of France is so committed to the idea of equality in its public school system that the socialist president François Hollande caused a stir in 2012 by proposing […]

Read More

Consuming the Paris Commune

A few days ago, strolling goggle-eyed through the glitz and glam of Bon Marché, Paris’s ultra-upscale department store, I passed a menswear display named for the Paris Commune of 1871. The historical irony smacked me in the face so hard, I nearly got whiplash. To discover that the first worker-controlled state in world history was […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Cream Puffs Through the Ages

Baking is all about the magic of transformation. When it comes to savory food, I tend to subscribe to the Alice Waters school of cooking: keep it simple and let the ingredients shine. I prefer a roast chicken to a wrapped, rolled, stuffed, and sauced chicken roulade. Give me a steamed fresh crab, a cracker […]

Read More

Joie de vivre is the keystone of the French cuisine

Waiting in line to buy apples from Evelyne Nochet’s family orchard Le Nouveau Verger at the Mouton-Duvernet Friday market today, my husband turned a big happy grin towards me and I felt the truth of M. Thérèse Bonney’s epigraph in French Cooking for American Kitchens (1929): “joie de vivre is the keynote of the French cuisine.” I love the frontispiece for […]

Read More