Quintessential France
Quintessential France

Quintessential France: A Beach in Normandy

By Friday, July 22, 2016 Permalink

by Jonell Galloway

I wish I were on this beach in Normandy today, walking on the Trouville promenade, the French flag flying high and proud, the sea breeze in my locks. I might fling off that long, thick dress with its petticoat, however, and walk shoeless into the sea and stick my toes in the chilly water, before going up for coffee and a Madeleine in that little tower in the half-timber house looking out to sea. That’s me in the blue dress, of course; I always wear a color that matches the sky.

****

This painting is from the current exhibit at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. By Claude Monet, The Boardwalk on the Beach at Trouville, 1870.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Quintessential France: Château du Marais

By Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Permalink

Quintessential France: Château du Marais

by Jonell Galloway

Château du Marais, castle of the marshland, Essonne 91, France, Talleyrand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s built in a marsh — thus the name, Château du Marais — and the water you see in front is the overflow from what you call the plan d’eau in French, meaning literally “water plane,” which is basically a mirror lake. As soon as there is sun, you can see a silvery reflection of the house, and sometimes the clouds, in the water. I lived in a bit of this house for 18 years. Because the little lake and the house are almost at the same level for the sake of aesthetics, and because the house is built on filled-in marsh, it takes very little to flood it. We always had our rubber boots ready and many the time I had to walk through knee-deep water and across the courtyard to get out. We’d park our cars on higher ground and wade to them if we truly had to go somewhere outside our little world. It was like being a princess locked inside a castle, except I wasn’t a princess. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel peas under my mattress.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

D-Day in Chartres

By Tuesday, June 7, 2016 Permalink

by Jonell Galloway

The rain stopped in its tracks and the summer came down in a billow and I got out my summer dresses. The dogs lay down in the grass high from rain, rolling and frolicking with their limber legs toward heaven as the blue sky pushed its way through the month-long gray clouds. Teenage girls walked bare-armed, not yet tattooed, and young women strolled bare-legged in vintage print dresses resembling those in the Liberation photos but with tattoos blending into the flowers of their dresses. In 1944, it was D-Day on the shores of Normandy, but Chartres was occupied until mid-August, with the first American soldiers arriving in Proust’s beloved Illiers-Combray at 1 p.m. on August 15 and in Chartres at 10:30 a.m. on August 16th, my birthday. The people here love Americans; even young people repeat the stories their grandparents recounted of the American tanks driving up our street of St. Pierre a few days later and the 85-year-old butcher hugs me every time he sees me, as if I had been there and helped. The first time I came here, it was as if I’d found my home so far away from home, where I could wear pink and blue floral dresses like my grandmothers’ and wear white socks and sandals and dance in the same streets Jean Moulin had walked and feel free.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Views of Chartres: Wheat Threshers

By Monday, June 6, 2016 Permalink

“A bare-chested sun-tanned peasant threshes the wheat, section of August from the Zodiac and the labors of the months stained glass window, 1217, in the ambulatory of Chartres Cathedral, Eure-et-Loir, France. This calendar window contains scenes showing the zodiacal symbol with its corresponding monthly activity. Chartres cathedral was built 1194-1250 and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Most of its windows date from 1205-40 although a few earlier 12th-century examples are also intact. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.”–Art Archive

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Food Quote: Erik Satie on French Cuisine

By Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Permalink

En Art, j’aime la simplicité ; de même, en cuisine. / In art, I like simplicity; the same goes for cuisine.–Erik Satie (Honfleur 1866-Paris 1925), in Cahiers d’un Mamifère.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Slow Life in Chartres, the Breadbasket of France

By Sunday, February 14, 2016 Permalink

Eating and Drinking in Chartres, the Breadbasket of France

by Jonell Galloway

Kentucky is far from Chartres, but not so far as one might think. Biscuits and cornbread were the bond that held us together in Kentucky; wheatfields and bread do the same in Chartres. We like white gravy; the Chartrains, as they’re called, like sauce. Isn’t white gravy a sauce, after all?

Growing up in Kentucky, I embraced the Slow Food concepts without ever knowing it. Wendell Berry was my breakfast, lunch and supper, after all. The French have never fully embraced the official Slow Food concept of Good, Clean and Fair, since they consider that French cuisine and agriculture already embrace these values and do not need an organization – especially an Italian association with an English name – to teach them about their own time-honored traditions. One might say that the French are arrogant and chauvinist, which I would never totally deny, but it is this very pride that has maintained a high level of quality in the world of artisanal food and agriculture.

I have lived in the Beauce region, the bread basket of France, for over 15 years. The hill of Chartres is surrounded by wheat and grain fields and when you go to the bakers, they actually mark the name of the millers who provided the grain for particular breads. It’s all rather magical for those who have a holistic view of the world. The Beauce is all about farming, in particular, wheat, grain and sugar beets, but also goat cheese, pork products, rabbits, beer, apples and apple cider products, pears, chickens, rapeseed, etc. My goal has been to find all the best producers and growers and support them in every way possible.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Make way for the quadruped King of the festival,
Wearing his crown of flowers
and vine leaves.
Make way for the tamest of all
who wear horns,
greet him with music of horn and flute.
People of Paris,
open the path to the triumphant Fattened Ox.
Neither Asia nor Africa
has ever seen better,
this pride and joy of the butcher’s trade.
Light-hearted maidens, and frolicking lads,
pay him due honour
of music and song!
People of Paris, open the path
to the triumphant Fattened Ox.
Make way for the quadruped King of the festival
wearing his crown of flowers
and vine leaves.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
— Giuseppe Verdi, from the choir of butchers in the opera La Traviata
Quintessential France

Still Life with Flowers and Fruit, by Pierre Auguste Renoir

By Monday, January 4, 2016 Permalink

Quintessential France: Still Life with Flowers and Fruit, by Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Quintessential France: Christmas Feast

By Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Permalink

Quintessential France: Preparation of the Christmas Feast in 1870

 

 

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Quintessential France

Madame de Sévigné on Chocolate

By Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Permalink

What to Eat in France: Marquise de Sévigné on Chocolate

by Jonell Galloway

Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, born the Marquise de Sévigné, was one of France’s most prolific letter writers of the seventeenth century. Known often as simply Madame de Sévigné, she was known for her love of chocolate, although her letters of 1671 reveal that she sometimes had a love-hate relationship with it.

In her letter of February 11, 1671, to her ailing daughter, Madame de Grignan, she wrote:

“You’re not feeling well, did you not sleep? Chocolate will make you feel yourself again. A thousand times I have thought: she has no chocolatier near her, poor child. What will you do?”

Letter of May 13, 1671:

“I beg you, my dear soul, my beautiful, to not eat any more chocolate. I’ve turned against it myself. A week ago I suffered from 16 hours of colic that gave me an acute kidney infection.”

Letter of October 25, 1671, when Madame de Sévigné’s daughter, who was pregnant, continued to follow her mother’s earlier words of advice:

“Chocolate, what can we say about it? Aren’t you afraid you’ll burn your very blood? All these miraculous effects, do they not hide something obscure?”

Letter of October 28, 1671:

“I wanted to reconcile myself with chocolate. I ate some the day before yesterday to help me digest my dinner and enjoy my supper. I ate some more yesterday just to get a little nourishment and to help me fast until evening. It had all the desired effects: this is why I find it so pleasant. It does what it is intended to do.”

Translated by Jonell Galloway, from Lettres de l’année 1671

Never miss a post
Name: 
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

UA-21892701-1
WordPress Backup