Friday, September 28, 2012

La Seduction (paperback)

Financier Gateau chocolat by Carol Gillott Gateau Chocolat, watercolor, 9" x 11"
La Seduction by Elaine Sciolino
La Seduction is out in paperback if you didn't catch it 1st time out

An American friend, who worked at Restaurant Guy Savoy for 3 years, made an observation I've never forgotten - 'Everything in France is layered'. I think of this each time I cut into a piece of French pastry.Elaine Sciolino's La Seduction, cuts through the complexity of French culture, politics, mores and most of all the layers of 'La seduction'. My copy is a mess of yellow markings. You won't be able to put it down.
You can 'bite' a chunk at Amazon
Sciolino mentions those petite details of seduction in an interview with lingerie queen Chantal Thomass. As New York Times Paris bureau chief for 5+ years, no one is out of her reach including a gastronomic 3-star chef Guy Savoy - she even gets to have a meal with his mother in the country
This little blurb in an old Elle magazine sums up the books premise, 'Sexy, mais pas trop' (Sexy, but not too much) Suggestion in seduction is everything. Elaine's book came out in France too. Who doesn't need to know more about seduction?
Wear something you can take off. You can take a class on exactly how to take it off seductively in France.
Perfume is an essential in the game of French seduction - but all the senses come into play.
Obvious makeup is a non, non.

But traitment/skin treatment of the peau?
Absolutement oui
Much is summed up at a dinner soiree given by a French friend, so Sciolino can ask questions (with the essential politesse) of French experts in all arenas of the arts of seduction.
You'll be enthralled.
Sciolino dissects the French seduction the way I cut into a piece of cake to know it and paint it, layer by layer. And her bibliography is a goldmine on essential Frenchness. Many books we've discussed here like: Deluxe, The Perfect Scent, What French Women Know, French Women Don't get Fat, Almost French, The Essence of Style.

The only oversight was the seductive powers of the French dog.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

C comme Compote et Chats

 Do you wanna be a French girl?
Eat compote!
Something rarely if ever mentioned in the many tomes on achieving utter Frenchiness. Yet every French child learns to eat compote in the creche and before and being French, they never give it up.

 Not too many calories in plain old apple sauce are there, ahem

 And you can gussie it up with a touch of peche or figue or whatever your heart desires.

 Whilst in Maine, Monsieur Jacquie aka Jackie, a Maine Coon with great 'je n'ai sai quoi', taught me the way of making compote a la Francaise

 Your pommes/apples do not have to be French by the way. Macintosh will do just fine.

 Serving your compote de pomme in Frenchie-looking bleu dinner ware can't hurt in your efforts to achieve true Frenchiness

Le recipe received from cher Jacquie yesterday:
Ingredients: Apples, water, cinnamon, and a scant of sugar if desired. (makes about 2+ cups)

6-8 medium apples, peeled and sliced. ( I don't bother coring them, just slice to the core) into a medium size sauce pan. Pour enough water to fill the bottom of the pan. (about an inch high).

Cover and place on med heat. Boil/steam until the apples are softened.

Check often to be sure the apples do not burn and stick to the bottom.

If the apples are not softened and there is no water remaining, add a bit more water.

When the apples are softened, remove from heat. Stir with a fork until you reach a consistency that you like.

Add cinnamon and sugar to taste. I often forgo sugar depending on the tartness of the apple.

I like tart- so I often use Macintosh or Macouns. Cortlands are rumored the best for cooking. A matter of taste.
(I threw in zest + juice from 1/2 organic lemon + a teaspoon of brown sugar to counteract the lemon).
miam miam
There are tons more compote recipes at Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini.
 As an homage to Jacquie's skills in la cuisine in watercolor. Surely M.J. deserves this!

 Further homages I found in this book, I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats

 Have you read it? Truly adorbs

Her new sweater doesn't smell of me

I could pee on that

She's gone out for the day and left her laptop on the counter

I could pee on that

Her new boyfriend just pushed my head away

I could pee on him

She's ignoring me ignoring her

I could pee everywhere

She's making up for it by putting me on her lap

I could pee on this

I could pee on this
Merci Jacquie and I could Pee On That
Eat your COMPOTE!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Parisian Squirrels

It's Fall in Paris and squirrels/L'Esquirol are EVERYWHERE.
Even in the Metro.
La Mere de Famile always keeps their windows in tune with the seasons. Les Folies, cocoa powder-covered almonds are their Fall specialty. They have complimentary samples at the cash to tempt you when you pay for other items.

Marie-Noelle translated this for me - something to the effect that squirrels symbolizes economy and preparedness. My father used to remind me to follow their example. Learn to think ahead for the oncoming winter. I should get my nuts lined up in a row etc. Instead he said I played like the grasshopper. Hmmm... I'm still playing too much.
La Maison du Chocolat has some nice chocolate nuts lined up in a row in their Fall windows. I would happily squirrel these away for the winter.

A pretty Fall still life in an antique shop window in the Marais.
Another Fall painting in Portobello's window.  
Place du Vosges in the Marais is full of fallen leaves.

Fall is the French season for the hunting for mushrooms/champignons.
La Mere de Famile's vitrine is full of marzipan mushrooms, chestnuts
And chocolate cocoa beans filled with candy leaves and pebbles.
Baby squirrels sit in kids shop windows.
to remind us that our own bebe squirrels
need some Fall colors in their wardrobes.
Orange, orange, orange!
I've yet to see an actual Parisian squirrel. I think they're on vacance in New York. Back to playing
a repost from 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mission To Paris

 I've been noodling with l'heure bleue teapots...

 And atmospheric pomme...

 Whilst dipping into tres evocative Alan Furst's Mission To Paris.
Set in Paris, movie star Fredric Stahl, twice nominated for an Oscar, steps smartly into the caldron of late 1930s Europe. "I was born in Vienna, wandered about the world for a time, lived and worked in Paris, then, in the summer of 1930, Hollywood. I'm an American now," Stahl tells a woman he meets on a ship sailing to Paris.

 Some excerpts to get you enthralled in this period thriller:
In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistibly seductive. The autumn of the year 1938 began in just such weather and on the terraces of the best cafes, in the famous restaurants, at the dinner parties one wished to attend, the conversation was, of necessity, lively and smart: fashion, cinema, love affairs, politics, and, yes, the possibility of war — that too had its moment.

 ...he didn't want to work - the light fading outside the window, the gathering dusk, had reached him. It was l'heure bleue - time to be meeting a lover, looking for one. Well, he had nowhere to go. He put the script aside, went to the desk, found Hotel Claridge stationary and began to write a letter...

 ..."You're staying at the Claridge?" she said. "I just love that hotel, so much quieter than the Ritz."
A glass of champagne was put in his hand, a silver tray of caviar blini flew past. "They certainly make you comfortable," Stahl said.
 ...The cocktail party was in the drawing room, where splendid old paintings in elaborate gold frames - lords and ladies and cherubs and a few bare breasts - hung on the boiserie; walnut paneling that covered the walls. It was a stiff, formal room, with draperies of forest-green velvet, maroon taffeta upholstery, spindly chairs from royal times - chanting in chorus don't dare sit on me - and a mirror-polished eighteenth-century parquet floor. Against one wall, a huge marble-topped hunting table with gilt legs, a place to toss your pheasants when you came in from the field...If this room didn't intimidate you, Stahl thought, nothing would...

 It's 1938, when Jean Gabin's Le Quai des Brumes came out and Mission To Paris could not be more film noire if that's your taste...

 Loaded with atmospheric scenes right and left...

 Like mysterious train station rendevous essential to any noirish thriller...

 Exotic spies right and left, naf main character Frederic Stahl gets in over his head and it's fun to follow his toings and froings...

The perfect place to read Mission To Paris would be hanging out at a cafe nursing one cup of Joe all day, which by the way, Furst tells us, became a habit with Parisians who often had no heating at home back then. Who knew?