Sanae Lemoine’s debut novel, The Margot Affair, tells the story of Margot Louve, the 17-year-old daughter of a prominent, ambitious French politician and an actress with whom he’s carried on a long-time affair. Set in the Left Bank of Paris, the narrative considers multiple dualities: public appearance against private life; the danger of truth against the cost of secrecy; and the cruelty of deceit against the desire to be seen and heard.
Reminiscent of the real-life political scandal involving the former President of France, Francois Mitterand, who had a daughter with his mistress, Anne Pingeot, The Margot Affair is a…
I don’t buy basil anymore.
Not bearing to see the leaves tethered to their fibrous stems
Laying flat, maybe secure, probably imprisoned
In the plastic clamshell
Maybe a haven, probably a coffin.
I don’t buy basil anymore
My eyes too weak against the tear gas of its scent.
Scorching summer afternoons
Thorny zucchini branches.
Tomato sauce toeing a line between
sweet and bitter.
Magic and alchemy.
An elusive impermanence.
I don’t buy basil anymore
Because she’s not here anymore
Adjusting her eyeglasses as they slowly slide down her nose
A flurry of herbs cascading into the sauce.
It was about a week into what I (optimistically? naively?) thought was going to be a few months of isolation. Having escaped the frenzy of Manhattan for my childhood home in the suburbs, I was relishing in the novelty of working from home, dog nestled in my lap as I rotated through three pairs of raggedy high school sweatpants. “Social distancing” was the new phrase du jour, although toilet paper hadn’t *yet* disappeared off shelves. …
The stereotypical caricature of France is one of haute cuisine, fashion, romance, and beauty. It’s steeped in tradition. Desirable. Iconic. A convenient image that stands up to the certain je ne sais quoi that has people around the world positively swooning for La Ville Lumière.
These four articles cut through this oversimplified archetype of French culture and shed light on the very real issues affecting the Francophone world today — from identity politics to immigration, race to secularism. Because there’s far more to talk about than Emily In Paris and the mythologized, stick-thin, lipstick-wearing, baguette-eating Parisian woman (*gasp*).
It’s impossible not to feel an affectionate warmth towards Julia Child while reading My Life In France, an autobiography co-written with her husband’s grand-nephew, Alex Prud’homme. Because while this “6-food-2-inch… rather loud and unserious Californian” is best known for introducing French cuisine to American homes, this book revealed a far more intimate expression of her deep love for and fascination of France — from the undeniable “joie de vivre” that so charmed Child, to the language, geography, literature, art, and, of course, sublime gastronomic culture.
“I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one…
The first time I heard the word, “ratatouille,” I was 14 years old and sitting on a cushioned movie theater seat, snug between my mom and my sister, watching the rat Remy come to life as an ambitious Parisian chef. I chose gummy bears and my sister, popcorn, and we sat next to each other to pass the snacks back and forth, enjoying the salty crunchiness of the popcorn and sweet chewiness of the candy.
Other than the hour or so of Pixar-animated entertainment, the movie didn’t make much of an impression on my young-teen mind. In fact, I barely…
Caesar salad always came with a caveat.
No anchovies, please.
And if they were part of the dressing, well, there goes that. There’s always caprese.
So having not ever come within fork’s distance of an anchovy in my entire life, I nonetheless absorbed my mother’s strong aversion to the slimy, hairy fish and decided that I too would never, ever eat it. Because ew. So gross.
Plus, there was other seafood to distract me. Thick pieces of fatty salmon doused in lemon juice, flaky tilapia baked en papillote until the cherry tomatoes reached their popping point, breaded shrimp perfectly charred…
Trays of lukewarm pasta sat on the counter, with the once pillowy ricotta and creamy mozzarella slowly solidifying around the mangled ziti. Day-old ciabatta sat on a cutting board, crumbs strewn about, with a half-eaten plate of chicken marsala resting on the stovetop — crimini mushrooms trapped in the now congealed sauce.
In the corner was a Jenga stack of jumbo Ziploc bags filled with bagels. Sesame, poppy, everything, onion, plain. Untouched. Three tubs of vegetable cream cheese slowly approaching their expiration date in the fridge.
Everything was delivered with the best of intentions — notwithstanding the one-too-many I don’t…
This past winter, I was in a bonafide cooking rut — which I have to believe happens to the best of us. Looking back, the cold and dreary, mid-Feb-in-NYC weather may have had something to do with it, because I couldn’t muster up the creative energy to do anything besides roast vegetables with abandon.
Potatoes of every kind, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, string beans — you name it, I spread it on a baking sheet, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled on some salt, and roasted it at 375 until it toed the line between well-done and charred. And then…
Whenever I tell people I grew up without a microwave, I’m met with blank stares and a slew of questions ranging from “did you grow up on a farm?” to “does that mean you never ate leftover Chinese food?” And my personal favorite — “are you Amish?”
After explaining that no, we didn’t spend our days tilling the soil or depriving ourselves of electricity (or dumplings), it still doesn’t seem to sink in. Why, in their right minds, would my parents deprive me and my siblings of the modern wonder of the microwave? They might as well have not brought…