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Posts from the ‘Around France’ Category

No. 355: Being Covered with Croissant Crumbs

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You know it is going to be a great day when you start it covered in croissant crumbs.

Why in the world can no country besides France make perfect croissants and pain au chocolat?

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No. 351: Summer Drinks

Even though I only have two weeks left before I have to leave my beloved France, I am still trying to squeeze out every last bit of everything from everything I do. To paraphrase DuBose Heyward and George Gershwin,  “It is summertime and the drinking is easy,” or something like that. Besides being refreshing, these dandies are keeping the panic attacks at bay as we host our last visitors and I try to get through my ever-growing to-do list. Santé!

kir royale with some of my very favorite people...Kir royale. Pour 3 teaspoons (15ml) creme de cassis into each champagne flute. Top with champagne and serve immediately. Creme de cassis is a blood-red sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants.

…kir royale with some of my very favorite people…

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Pour 3 teaspoons (15ml) creme de cassis into each champagne flute; top with champagne and serve immediately; creme de cassis is a blood-red sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants…

rosé is always a good idea…

beer plus lemonade…quite refreshing...

…panaché…beer plus lemonade…the perfect thirst quencher…

champagne or crémant, you can’t go wrong…

prosecco…bien sûr!

…prosecco…naturalmente…

…et citron and pamplemousse pressés are the best cure for a hot summer’s day!

Qu’aimez-vous de boire quand il fait chaud?

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Vocabulaire:

Qu’aimez-vous de boire quand il fait chaud? What do you like to drink when it is hot?

No. 347-349: la Madeleine, Madeline, and les Madeleines

Which one is your favorite?

Here’s a yummy Madeleine recipe to try at home.

 

No. 345: Searching for Monsieur Chat

I am not sure why it took me nearly three years to discover these delightful golden cats with the Cheshire grin because I always make it a habit to look up.

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And ‘up’ is where you will find them, mischievously smiling down. I came across them in Orléans earlier this summer, and now I see them peeking out at me here at home. I have even seen them as far away as Geneva, and rumor has it this roving rascal has made it all the way to the big time in New York City.

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This fancy feline appears under the cover of darkness when his puckish painter comes out to play tag. Spray cans in hand; the artist’s imagination takes flight late at night on high above rooflines and sand colored walls. Sometimes you find them grinning uncertainly from chimney pipes and gutters. And sometimes their paws reach out for the sky while their faces laugh at the sun. I even saw this cool cat winging it with angels in front of the pearly gates.

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Monsieur Chat is my favorite skyline treasure hunt. Where have you seen this traveling tomcat?

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No. 333: Tuscan Sunsets

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No. 332: Vespas

vespa_pink_france.jpgWe have now made our way to Italy, so it seems appropriate to write about their beloved and iconic Vespas. I have actually been collecting photos of these lovable shiny scooters in Paris and around France over the years, and now that I am in their homeland, I am thinking that it is time do a little poetic waxing on the subject.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have never driven a Vespa, never taken a ride on one, and never even sat on one. I guess I am just plain chicken when it comes to anything with only two wheels, except for my beloved vélo. Still, in my mind’s eye, I see myself on one of these snappy, multihued machines, tooling through the French (or Italian) countryside or zipping between cars on the Paris streets, harmonizing helmet protecting my noggin. I have a couple of girlfriends in Paris who brave the wacky French drivers, and scoot about on their Vespas, and I must say, they look quite marvelous, and save a lot of money on petrol to boot.

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The Vespa came about as a response to the realities of post-WWII Italy. It was a cheap and reliable mode of transport for struggling Italians who needed to get around the bombed out country. However, had it been only a form of transportation, I doubt we would still be talking about them; but a fashion statement, now that is another story.

original 1946 Vespa…source: www.businessweek.com

original 1946 Vespa…source: http://www.businessweek.com

The original prototype designed by the Piaggio Company was based on the small motorcycles made for parachutists and nicknamed “Paperino” (the Italian name for Donald Duck) because of its strange shape. Not quite right, the head of the company ask for a redesign. Using their technological and design know-how gleaned from designing rail carriages, luxury coaches, seaplanes and of course, airplanes, propellers and engines for the war, and “unfettered by any preconceptions about what a motorcycle or scooter should look like”, the slick, sporty Vespa was born. Equally important to function and drivability was comfort and style. The Vespa was designed to keep its driver looking smart, not disheveled, but perfectly intact for any photo-finish. Piaggio decided to call its creation the wasp (vespa) based on the sound of its engine, its aerodynamic form, and its lean, but curvy, and sexy shape. Once he introduced the snazzy and sleek colors, we were all goners.

vespa_montepulciano_italy.jpgNowadays the Vespa is an intrinsic part of Italian (and French) social history. Riding one today, I imagine you still feel a kinship to the “Dolce Vita” years. Maybe someday I will have the guts to jump on one and ride through the splendid countryside or romantic cities of Italy and live my own “Roman Holiday”…I can picture that…

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Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday

Viva la Vespa!

No. 331: What Does the Fox Say?

goats_france.jpgAs we travel through southern France and the Alps, we have seen a fair bit of domesticated wildlife. This got us thinking about what animals say in French. You know, those lovely onomatopoeias that phonetically replicate the sounds that animals make? Animal sounds are different in most languages, and some of them are adorable en français.

Par exemple:

A frog in American English croaks, Ribbit! Ribbit! but the hoppy amphibian in French belts roughly, Côa! Côa! American horses have been heard to say, Neigh! while French horses laugh, Hihihi! In Paris satisfied French chats hum, Ron-Ron! but their Manhattan amis naturally prrrrrrr, and then prrrrrr some more.

In the countryside in the States, we wake up to a screeching, Cock-a-doodle-doo! mais in France nature’s alarm clock is slightly more pleasing, Cocorico! (Italy’s roosters top them both with their melodious, Chicchirichi!) In contrast their better halves, the hens, say, Cot-Cot-Cod! not Cluck! Cluck! Cluck! as the fluff-ball baby Yanks chirp, Cheep! and Peep!, the French bèbès warble, Piou! Piou!

Both the wild boars and the pigs in France grunt, Groin! Groin! (grwan grwan) whereas their piggy-tailed American chums, squeal, Oink! Oink!

 

The donkey below our mountain chalet brays, Hiii-hearnn! or sometimes, Ihà Ihà, which does sound a lot like the familiar, Hee Haw! Hee Haw! The birds in the canopy call, Cui! Cui! (kwee-kwee) not, Tweet! Tweet! The canoodling French doves whisper softly, Rou! Rou! Rou! while their fine-feathered-friends respond, Coo! Coo! Coo!
French ducks on the lake quack, Coin! Coin! Coin! (kwan-kwan-kwan), as the wild turkeys in the bush gobble, Glou! Glou! Glou!

The cows on both side of the Atlantic can be heard lowing, Meuh! or Moo! And the sheep and goats sound alike bleating, Bêê! and Bah! and Naaah! and Naaah!

…but can you tell me please, what does the fox say?