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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 […]

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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 […]

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Truffled Turkey

Thanksgiving food writing is full of recipes and histories of the dishes that we find on the American table, like roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. But I would like to tackle the history of a once-popular dish that I suspect nobody ate last Thursday: the dinde truffêe. Since I’ll never have the chance to […]

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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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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 […]

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Montmartre Is Dead!

“Montmartre is dead!” screamed the headline of a February 1924 obituary in The Living Age, an American weekly review. The famed artists’ redoubt on a hill at the northern border of Paris had succumbed to an influx of American money and values. The penniless French artists and poets who had once gathered round the tables of the Lapin […]

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Eating Crow

According to Alexandre Dumas, author of the classic adventure novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo as well as a lesser-known cookbook, Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, the Roman emperor Heliogabalus once feasted on a pâté made from the tongues of peacocks, nightingales, crows, pheasants, and parrots (paons, rossignols, corneilles, faisans, and perroquets). Yet that didn’t satisfy his appetite for […]

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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 […]

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Halloween in Paris

Paris may be home to one of the spookiest places I’ve ever been, the bone-filled catacombs, but the city offers little  in the way of Halloween fun. Sure, a few of the patisseries have pumpkin-themed treats in the window. But tarte à la citrouille hardly makes up for the absence of trick-or-treating as far as my […]

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My generation doesn’t eat supper

The young North American men who flocked to Montparnasse in the 1920s came to drink not to eat. The women were another matter. The men of the “Lost Generation,” as they were famously dubbed by Gertrude Stein, scorned the previous generations of wealthy tourists, like Henry James’s Christopher Newman, who came to improve their “taste” and […]

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