the disappearance of Jeanne Moreau

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Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni 

In the French language, when a person dies they say they have disappeared. Elle a disparu (She disappeared.) La disparition de Jeanne Moreau headlined all the newspapers today and I was sad for many reasons. Une flamme s’éteint is another poetic French expression for the passing of someone: a flame is extinguished. And yet another, elle a rendu l’âme: she gave up her soul.

Jeanne Moreau - La Notte (1961) car

Tributes, accolades and homages have been pouring in all day here in France. The cultural TV channel, ARTE, is showing two Moreau films tonight back-to-back (and all throughout the week.) I’m watching the first one now as I type this. Le journal d’une femme de chambre, 1964, with Moreau and the great Michel Piccoli. I saw both actors, on separate occasions, during my ramblings around Paris years ago. Jeanne Moreau in a restaurant in the 14th arrondissement; and Michel Piccoli who burst into a métro car one afternoon, clearly inebriated and wearing a long raincoat, before staggering in my direction to sit lopsidedly on the seat beside me. His leg touched mine. I squealed silently with delight.

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After more than 140 films, her curiosity remained unquenched, her look imperturbable: the lustrous hair, the resolute eyes, the sensual, sulky mouth, the slightly rasping voice. “This is what I am,” those features seemed to say. “Take me or leave me.” 

Moreau brought to the screen a singular, inimitable verve, a petulance, and a shameless gaze. Her range was extraordinary and she illuminated such classics as Jules and Jim, The Lovers, Diary of a Chambermaid, and The Bride Wore Black.

Above all, my personal favorite Moreau film is La Notte (The Night), a 1961 Italian drama in which she played alongside the impossibly gorgeous Marcello Mastroianni. There’s something dissolute, complex, sauve and sophisticated about that film. Watching it in my early twenties made me want to go and live in Italy (To my regret, I never did. However it’s not too late …)

In closing, this clip of Jeanne walking down the Champs-Elysées at night in Louis Malle’s 1958 film Les Amants with the Miles Davis soundtrack playing in the background is pure French and pure Moreau. She was 30 years old.

rosé wine and gazpacho

As I sit in my small Parisian flat on this Sunday, my two fans blowing at cross-currents with me strategically positioned in the middle, I have just enjoyed what many people in France consume during the summer: cold gazpacho accompanied by a glass (or two) of chilled rosé wine. Délicieux.

There’s a popular brand in the supermarkets here that’s quite good. But when I learned that Alvalle is owned by PepsiCo, I decided to make my own.  

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Nothing could be easier. For anyone on a diet, remember you’re eating raw liquidized vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are free on the Weight Watchers program, so you can eat all you want (recipe below).

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Rosé wines have enjoyed phenomenal success in the past two decades (much to the delight of wine producers.) The region of Provence is the spiritual home of rosé, but I enjoy a Corsican varietal.

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Gazpacho

6 ripe tomatoes, 1 purple onion, 1 cucumber, 1 sweet red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 or 2 small teaspoons sugar, salt and pepper, 1 tsp Worcestershire and/or Tabasco, 4 cups good quality tomato juice.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all these ingredients, I didn’t have the celery, parsley or Tabasco yesterday. Combine in a blender or with a hand-held mixer. Be careful not to overblend because you want it slightly chunky. None of the recipes I saw called for fresh basil. I added fresh basil.

Bon appétit !

The End of Eddy

It has been written that the parallels between these two bestselling books – one American, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, and the other French, En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, or the translated title, The End of Eddyare striking.

“Both are stories by precocious young men about the savagery of their childhoods. Both explore cultures of spectacular violence. Both are set in decaying manufacturing towns — places where the men and women scuff and strain against economic morbidity, class invisibility and narcotizing boredom. Yet these same men and women have a paradoxical relationship with the government, at once resenting its power and depending on its largess. Welfare is as common as rain.” Jennifer Senior, The New York Times Book Review.

“Both books became unexpected cultural phenomena. “The End of Eddy” sold 300,000 copies in its first year when Edouard Louis was 21; “Hillbilly Elegy” has been on The New York Times’s best-seller list for more than 40 weeks. And both authors, after escaping their hometowns against insuperable odds (“You don’t even understand that flight is an option,” Louis writes), have been recruited to interpret nativist movements in their countries. Louis has spent the last three years explaining the allure of Marine Le Pen while J.D. Vance spent the run-up to the 2016 election assaying the appeal of Donald J. Trump.” Jennifer Senior, The New York Times Book Review.

TRUMP and LE PEN are the products of exclusion,” says Edouard Louis. His real name, before he changed it, was Eddy Bellegueule. The translation of Bellegueule is “beautiful face.” He’s 24 years old.

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In his (autobiographical) novel, Bellegueule writes about his growing-up years in his village in the north of France, the violence he encountered daily and, in general, the destitute, poor French white working class. When he finished his manuscript, he sent it to a publishing house in Paris. The rejection letter he received said this: Poverty such as you describe it in your book no longer exists in France.

Last year his second book, Histoire de la violence, was published. Le Monde newspaper called it “splendid and distressing.”

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To understand the phenomenal success of The End of Eddy, here are two must-read book reviews –

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/01/the-end-of-eddy-by-edouard-louis-review

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/08/growing-up-poor-and-queer-in-a-french-village

the Molitor, a Paris institution

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Isn’t this a gorgeous photograph?  In the upper left background you can see the glittering Eiffel Tower.

And what is the Molitor, you might well ask.  Why, it’s the city’s most fashionable swimming pool, darling, and it has quite a history.  Constructed in 1929 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, it was intended to resemble an ocean liner, with different levels, white railings and circular windows.  It’s a marvellous example of the Art Déco style of its time.

Future Tarzan actor, Johnny Weissmuller, was a lifeguard there.  He spent a season giving swimming lessons and rescuing damsel bathers in distress.

The Molitor is also remembered by Parisians for its transformation into a skating rink in winter.

“I remember a confined, very crowded place”,  reminisces Corinne, a Parisian schoolgirl in 1958.  “We used to turn endlessly, bothering each other.”

“It was a place where rich kids from the 16th arrondissement and Boulogne-Billancourt picked each other up.  All the girls wore crew neck cardigans buttoned on the back and Hermes scarves crossed in the front and tied up on their backs.”  Chic !

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By 1989, though, the 60-year-old pool fell into ruin. The city of Paris didn’t have the funds to renovate, so it closed.  It became a venue for raves and a canvas for graffiti artists.

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Oddly enough, 4 years later another famous swimming pool in Paris – the Deligny – which was a floating pool on the river Seine, would sink.  I used to go to the Deligny when I first arrived in Paris in the early 1990s.

But all’s well that ends well, my darlings.  Today the Molitor is swank – restored back to its former glory, but with a modern twist.  It’s part of a hotel.  A luxury hotel.  For many Parisians, though, it’s an unaffordable luxury. People can use the pool if they stay at the hotel (from 215 euros per night), join the Molitor club (3,000 euros per year) or pay for a one day membership (150-180 euros).

Here’s a beautifully-done video of the pool’s history and its sparkling new life today. Watch how the Molitor re-invents itself over the decades.  Chic !

a summery slice of life – the Atlantic coast of France

A few summers ago I went to Arcachon, located just south of Bordeaux on the Atlantic Coast. It’s a favorite seaside destination of mine, easily accessible by a direct high-speed train from Paris. France is blessed with three coastlines: the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the English Channel.

Here’s a two-minute video of the jetty which stretches out over Arcachon Bay. Just beyond is the island of Cap Ferret. I can smell that fresh, ocean air and hear the gulls wheeling overhead right now.

 

Below is a post with photos of Arcachon and Cap Ferret, as well as a good hotel recommendation.

https://julietinparis.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/arcachon-and-cap-ferret/

fresh ginger lemonade

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courtesy of David Lebovitz

Another heatwave today. As I sit typing this post, my Rowenta fan is oscillating to the right of me and my Rowenta air purifier is humming to my left. The windows are closed. During a heatwave the French keep their windows shut. Which makes sense I guess, otherwise all that hot air would drift in.

Earlier, I purchased a bottle of (industrial-made) lemonade. It was refreshing, but there’s a lot of sugar and additives in it. And that got me to thinking: why not make my own? So I fired up the internet and stumbled across a great recipe for fresh ginger lemonade on the famous DL website (all of DL’s recipes are great). Tomorrow I’m going to buy the lemons and the fresh ginger and make me a batch.

For those who don’t know – What?? You’ve never heard of DL?? – David Lebovitz is an American in Paris. Oh yeah, he’s also a cookbook author, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., website owner, and a very funny man. Here’s an excerpt taken from The Boston Globe –

Q. What’s a day like in the life of David Lebovitz?

A. I get up and stand at the edge of the roof and decide whether to jump. When I’ve decided not to, I come back in, have coffee and toast, watch the news for about five minutes because I can’t stand it, then check e-mail. If it’s market day, I’ll spend a couple of hours there. Then I’ll work, write recipes. People ask, “What do you do all day?” Well, yesterday I bought a sponge. Things take so much time here.

So, here’s his website (filled with restaurant recommendations in Paris, lots of other recommendations, funny anecdotes and great recipes.) Enjoy.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/fresh-ginger-lemonade-recipe/

summer exodus

July and August are my favorite months in Paris. Why? Because the city, and my neighborhood in particular, empties of Parisians. Suddenly, a quiet descends and it’s wonderful. Cars and families head to the mountains, the seaside, the countryside and those left behind can breathe and reclaim the city.

Here’s a summer post I wrote two summers ago –

A perfect day today … far too beautiful to stay indoors. Grabbing my panier, I headed out to my local market this morning to buy papaya, mango, ginger-root and melon, among other things. Melons are in abundance this summer. Monoprix was selling them for a euro apiece last week.

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Mountains of Cavaillon melons from the Vaucluse region side by side with peaches, cherries and heaps of fragrant basil. I plan to make a big batch of pesto as well as tomato sauce from scratch.

IMG_4837IMG_4855IMG_4853IMG_4839We’re spoiled for choice in this land of abundance. Here’s a trio of fresh-caught rouget, bass and shrimp (prawns). IMG_4860IMG_4852IMG_4859

I came across this stall where the most beautiful hand-woven baskets were being sold. “What is the material of these baskets?” I asked the saleswoman. “Plastic.” she replied.  Which means not only durable, but waterproof (great for the beach). I also loved her rings and bracelets.

IMG_4871These ones you could slip your laptop into. Or papers and magazines.IMG_4879She works with a Mexican associate, she told me, hence the bright colors.IMG_4875IMG_4869

I love them. Unfortunately I had no cash left. Even though I have a surplus of carry-all bags, I’ll return next Sunday to buy one.

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Here’s the smoothie I made when I got home: melon, papaya, apple, coconut milk, orange juice and ginger-root. As usual, I forgot the mint. Why do I always forget to buy fresh mint?

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