Archives

Salons of Paris, Then and Now

The quality of the eating, without a doubt, could make or break a Parisian salon. Today’s nostalgists may fantasize about the gathering of minds that took place each week at Gertrude Stein’s apartments on the rue de Fleurus near the jardins Luxembourg, but for many participants the buffet table held equal appeal. Stein’s lover Alice B. Toklas paid so much […]

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

Rapture for Cooking

Jimmie the Barman, who poured the drinks at many of the best-known Lost Generation drinking holes including the Dingo, the Falstaff, and the Trois et As, once observed that it was “remarkable that the leaders and organizers of Montparnasse were largely women.” Poets like Mina Loy, artists like Nina Hamnett, writers like Djuna Barnes, editors […]

Read More

There is no Ibérico or serrano, only Jamón

The novel most responsible for the everlasting romanticization of Jazz Age expat culture in Paris, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, takes place half in Spain. When the pressures of drinking wine and eating oysters in the cafés of Montparnasse became too much to take, Hemingway, his friends, and the characters he modelled after them, escaped to San […]

Read More

Hemingway’s Hunger

“I’m very hungry,” I said. – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (1964) Published posthumously, Hemingway’s brief memoir of expat life in 1920s Paris is so popular that in “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” the stoner duo meet a prostitute named “Tits Hemingway” who explains that she got her name because “I have huge […]

Read More

The Auto-biography of Alice B. Toklas

The charm of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Gertrude Stein’s tongue-in-cheek “memoir” of her partner, lies for most readers in its intimate portrayal of Parisian artistic life during the first decades of the twentieth century. The informality of the narrative, a conversational slew of anecdotes featuring the most famous names of twentieth-century arts and letters […]

Read More

The Book of Salt

Embarking on a new reading list is, to me, a highlight of starting a new research project. It gives me an excuse to visit bookstores and libraries and collect stacks of unfamiliar books. It would be more sensible, as a scholar, to build a project on the library I have already assembled – both on my shelves […]

Read More