Damien Lafargue for The New York Times
It’s Hunting Time in France: Autumn signifies the opening of the six-month season, when chefs compete to transform quarry into gastronomic bliss.
PARIS — The chef Alain Dutournier was so excited about the first game meat of the season that he transformed the reception area of Carré des Feuillants, his two-Michelin-star restaurant, into a still life.
Then again, “life” may not be quite the right word.
He covered a large table with the leaves of chestnut and plane trees, then grabbed the feet of two 12-pound hares from Alsace and two small rabbits from Sologne and laid them on the leafy bed. After that came five mallard ducks from Brittany and 10 gray partridges from Champagne, whose heads he draped delicately over the table’s edge so their necks stretched long and their beaks pointed outward. For the final touch, he added color: chestnuts in their prickly casings, walnuts in their shells, a platter of cèpe mushrooms, a bowl of seven Italian white truffles, red-orange kuri squashes and bouquets of beets.
Continue reading “Turning the Hunt Into a Trip to the Market” »
Elaine Sciolino, au micro d’Edwige Coupez © Radio France – /C.R.
Actualité oblige, la journaliste américaine qui a couvert les événements au Moyen-Orient pour le New York Times, revient d’abord sur le coup de fil historique entre Barack Obama et Hassan Rohani, le premier après un silence diplomatique de plus de 30 ans. Selon Elaine Sciolino, c’est un symbole important.
Elaine Sciolino retrace son parcours de journaliste américaine. Elle revient sur son attachement à la France, où elle est arrivée juste après ses études, où elle vit aujourd’hui avec son mari américain.
Princess Minnie de Beauvau-Craon has ruled over the Château de Haroué in the Lorraine region of northeast France since 1982. Gabriela Plump for The New York Times
The French village of Haroué does not have much to offer. There’s a bakery, a pharmacy, a tabac, a restaurant, a police and fire station, a doctor’s office, a retirement home, a church that’s rarely open and a population of fewer than 500.
But Haroué (pronounced ah-rou-eh) does have an 82-room chateau with its very own princess, Minnie de Beauvau-Craon. Everyone here calls her “Princess Minnie.”
The princess, who is 59 and divides her time between the French countryside and an apartment in London, has ruled over the Château de Haroué in the Lorraine region of northeast France since her father died in 1982. Only 29 at the time, she inherited both the joys and the financial challenges of keeping the place going. In a country where the revolution overthrew the monarchy more than two centuries ago, “princess” is really just a charming honorific. But Princess Minnie takes her job — if not the title — seriously.
Damien Lafargue for The New York Times
Introducing Kale to the French: An American woman’s project seeks to persuade France to embrace the leafy green vegetable.
PARIS — The French do not know from kale.
While legions of American chefs, diners and health gurus have turned it into a menu staple and a sought-after superfood, their Gallic counterparts do not understand the leafy green vegetable. Even worse, they do not seem interested.
They cannot even agree on what to call it. There are at least five terms for kale, and the technical name, chou frisé non-pommé, translates unappetizingly as “curly headless cabbage.”
In a nation that loves just about every comestible its terroir can put forth, kale is a reminder of the dietary deprivation of World War II that made boiled cabbage an unpleasant fixture of the dinner table. Even here in the city that tends to embrace trends it considers très Brooklyn, kale (so ubiquitous in Brooklyn that it could be named the borough’s official vegetable) evokes the classic Parisian shrug.
Nanda Gonzague for The New York Times
The Laurent family — from left, Paul, Patrick, Estelle, Henri and Annie — breeds bulls and horses on their estate in Southern France.
ARLES, France — I was finishing the first course at the one-star Michelin restaurant La Chassagnette when Armand Arnal, the chef and owner, rushed into the dining room and ordered me to follow him. He led me out the door and into his five-acre fruit, vegetable and herb garden.
“Look at the sky!” he cried. “Aren’t they fabulous? They’re eating all the insects. This proves I am 100 percent organic, that I don’t use pesticides.”
I looked up. The moon was full. The sky was dark with black birds.
Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times
Golshifteh Farahan at home in Paris. She stars as a mother of two who is turned into a caregiver for her husband after he is shot and falls into a coma, in “The Patience Stone.” The film opens in New York on Wednesday.
PARIS — Growing up in Iran, Golshifteh Farahani was a rebel. She persuaded her classmates to go on strike because their school had no heat, and she lied to her parents so that her sister could spend time with her boyfriend.
In a protest against the head scarf at 16, she shaved her head, taped down her breasts, dressed like a boy and rode a bicycle around Tehran. At 17, she rejected her parents’ wish that she study piano in Vienna and pursued acting instead.
“There’s an expression in Persian, ‘to play with the lion’s tail,’ ” she said here in a recent interview in English. “I wasn’t what Iranian society wanted me to be — a good girl. I played with the lion’s tail.”
A Legion of Honor medal on display for sale at the Paris Mint. Gabriela Plump for The New York Times.
In an atelier up a winding staircase deep in the Paris Mint, two female artisans turn out delicately crafted, color-enameled, gold-vermeil medals for the Legion of Honor, the highest award of the French state.
Lots and lots of them.
Ever since 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte created the Legion of Honor as an award of merit for all professions, the French government has handed medals out like party favors. On Bastille Day last month, 656 French men and women were “promoted” to the order, including 533 “chevaliers” or knights (the first and lowest of five ranks), 96 “officiers,” 21 “commandeurs,” five “grand officiers” and one “grand-croix,” the highest rank. The honorees included the Resistance heroine Cécile Rol-Tanguy; the molecular chef Thierry Marx; the triple Olympic medal champion Marie-Jose Perec; the comic book author Albert Uderzo; the photographer Bettina Rheims; the dairy farm owner Marie-Thérèse Bonneau; and assorted business executives, government officials, humanitarian leaders, artists and intellectuals.
Much has been made about nudity in movies recently—Gaby Hoffmann in Crystal Fairy, Julie Delpy in Before Midnight, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, which won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The unapologetic display of “real” women’s bodies has been met (as it often is) with a mix of uproar, fascination, and soul-searching.
This is bemusing to an American living in France, where breasts are routinely bared on advertising billboards, in fashion magazines, and in pharmacy windows, and “le topless” has been allowed on French beaches since the 1970s.
Left, adding chocolate filling to fresh macarons; right, a McDonald’s advertisement.
NANCY, France — In the back of a pastry shop in this city in eastern France is a small kitchen that holds a secret.
It is here that Nicolas Génot comes early every morning, shuts the sliding door tight behind him and transforms ground almonds, egg whites and sugar into cookies called macarons. He works alone. Not even his wife is allowed in.
This macaron — round, unadorned, with rough fissures in its crisp golden crust — is made from a centuries-old recipe. In 1792, two Benedictine nuns, driven from their convent after France’s postrevolutionary government banned religious orders, took refuge with a local doctor and made a living making macarons. Their recipe has been passed down in secret ever since.
Frogs’ legs before sautéing in a pan of melted butter.
LES ÉCHETS, France — There was a time when frogs’ legs drowned in butter and garlic were standard fare at just about every bistro in France. Then two things happened.
First, tastes changed. With the advent of nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s, cuisses de grenouilles lost their cachet, as did country pâté, lamb kidneys in Dijon mustard sauce, duck à l’orange and profiteroles.
Second, frogs became an endangered species worthy of protection by the state. In 1980, France banned the capture, transport and marketing of live French frogs. Most frogs that end up on dinner plates here these days have to be imported, either live from places like Poland, Albania and the former Yugoslavia, or as frozen legs from Indonesia and China.