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Canard à la Presse

Growing up in America during the late 1970s and 80s, my juvenile imagination equated the word “Paris” with one thing: gourmet food. And if there was one fancy restaurant in Paris that I knew the name of as a child, it was “La Tour d’Argent.” The silver tower. The words had a ring to them, they […]

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Marinate for an hour 100 frogs’ legs

You know you are reading a French cookbook when the author’s instructions begin, “marinate for an hour 100 frogs’ legs in 1 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoons salt.” These instructions, which made me laugh out loud, come from “Food in French Homes,” the second chapter of The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954). A […]

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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 […]

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Lost in Translation: Andouillette n’est pas un petit Andouille

Like many Americans, I studied French in school, choosing it over the more practical Spanish because my parents used the language to talk secretly in front of us kids. I never discovered what my parents were saying about us, they must have stopped using French once I learned a little. But I did develop an […]

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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 […]

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Pulling for Macarons

Every fall, friends of ours in Victoria hold a party where all the adults are put to work transforming thousands of pounds of apples into cider. The apples are sorted and washed then passed through a hand-cranked mill and pulped. The bottles are cleaned and filled with juice. Everyone gets drenched with sweat. Meanwhile, the […]

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New Beginnings

A historian might envy the cat’s nine lives. Few of us have so many opportunities to begin our work lives anew. To research, write, and publish a single book can take a decade or even more. So I find it very exciting to have arrived at a moment of new beginnings. With my most recent […]

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