“To Eat Alone”

Some recent events in my life made me a lonely man, and therefore a lonely eater.

When I was a father in a family, I was really happy to have dinner-togetherness, to cook for my tribe, to talk, listen, laugh, and feel the family’s energy around the table.

I’ve been very skeptical when I read about how Americans were losing these daily gatherings of all the big cats around the table. “Everyone is having snacks when they want, everybody’s picking things in the fridge, watch TV or eat in bedrooms”, they said. My feelings were like between “it’s not true, it’s impossible” and “oh these Americans!”.

When my daughters were little, some days I went home late, it was almost time to go to bed : I told them stories, kissed them goodnight, then I was happy to have dinner with their mother, but also alone.

I remember good summer evenings. Two cat babies sleeping, mother cat watching a movie, and me papa cat, with a cassoulet, two slices of bread and half of a bottle of Bergerac wine, eating on a tray, on my bed, in front of a wide open double-window (or should I say “French door”, really?), watching and listening birds and trees in the dusk, sshhh.

Not working on thursdays, I remember I was happy to have meal time alone, eating in silence in the kitchen, listening to the rain outside. On my table : a candle, a corner lamp, and a magazine (about movies). Maybe some Brahms chamber music too. Bliss!

Now I eat alone, but I don’t snack. I never snack, and I’m always questioning my snacking friends in America, opening different little colored bags to crinch crunch and croonch while we Skype. I’m like “Where’s your plate, dear?”. They know I eat alone, thus they’re somewhat amazed by HOW I’m eating alone. Well, that’s nothing special, but I… I’m sorry… I can’t snack. It would kill me under a blanket of depression. It’s almost : “I’m French therefore I need a plate”.

I know better, OK : I have more time, in France. We work less, we move less (distances are… different here – I go to work by bike), and… errr… I think we think that food time is worth it, too : I eat alone but it’s cooked, sliced, prepared, organized. Just a bit. I need it.

Awweee sorry for my bad English. I’m wobbling, I know it. Pardonnez-moi !

Have a nice day! Bon appétit !

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Babette’s Feast, a Frenchization

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

As they say, Babette’s Feast is “still the gold standard of food movies”. I use it here because I find it’s a good example of… well… the reasons why people love the French – when they do 🙂

Babette is the perfect example of the Intruder/Revealer type. She disturbs a system, here a rigid grey life, with her “way of being”, which is here the love of food, et la gourmandise.

Nothing is the same after her…

Gourmandise is the French word for “love of good food”. I think you don’t have this word in English, which is maybe cultural (Mayflower spirit?). It’s like a positive, smiling way to talk about… greed. Yum!

On this pattern, there’s another movie, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp : Chocolat.

I agree : this spirit can be a bit disturbing for obedient Anglo-Saxons. Each time I’ve been in France with an American friend, this person was like amazed (in many ways : surprised, annoyed, afraid) about our freedom, our “not following the rules that much” ways, our casualness, our inefficiency too – and the food. The food, always, and again.

Here (like in other countries like Italy), c’est un Art de vivre, an Art of living. And we fight for that! Many of our cheeses are and will stay forbidden in America : not “safe” enough, not enough disinfected, sanitized…

Here I pity the French who live in America : they’re all missing… the cheese! And also, I will now search for “cultural differences movies”, where Anglo-Saxon’s culture irrigate our exhausting Frenchiness.

 

Tool : what from other country’s culture thing do you need in your job, in your life? What if you ask a Japanese expert about your company? What for? Where are the axis of progress?

Have a nice day!

OK, here’s a little Camembert to say goodbye.

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#vintage #cocacola

I like this little one, improbable combination of classic Coca-Cola vintage America and the soooo French “Délicieux avec de bons mets”.

Mets means “dish” (as a “food course”), but it’s unused today, dated and… vintage.

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From cook to music, and vice versa

Imagine a cook listening to music. Classical? Jazz? Pop? Rock? He closes his eyes. His brain dances and connects the sounds to his skills, and he gets ideas. Cooking. Baking. He stands up. He smiles. Here it is. Voilà!

As he found the idea pleasant, here he is, the day after, inventing recipes. With a purpose. He wants a friend, a musician, to taste it… to gain ideas. What will grow from this?

OK. Other combinations? From painting to cooking. It’s a game : Displacing Concepts

Tool : How will you get new ideas? How will you offer new ideas?

#littlegirl #algeria #bourdieu #bw #bread #cute

“A Well Seasoned French”, or how to be an ESL is a source of poetry

Being French, learning English from day to day, is a source of poetry, of mysteries, of surprises and difficulties.

ESL is for English as a Second Language. I always liked to learn english. From my 12 years  (“Andy has a dog, his name is Mustard. Andy loves his dog”), until now. I have happily a few friends today who can help me if I have questions about English.

It’s not about vocabulary (you have pretty good websites about this, my preferred one is Reverso). It’s mostly about the subtilities, and idioms, too.

(My last question, for example, was for the word “crafty“. I asked myself if it was colored negatively or not. A little girl who can repair her doll alone, she’s crafty ? Hummm… Good dictionaries gives me : sly, clever, shrewd, cunning, but nobody seems to be able to explain me the subtilities, sigh…)

What you don’t know, you English or American people, is the whole pack of complicated subtilities you have to dig when you are NOT from there.

I got an example just today :

I had a friend who’s blog was named, let’s say, A Well Seasoned Article. I loved this title so much ! You know why ? Because I thought that she built “seasoned” like :

“a preterit to Season (like summer, winter) for a poetic use”

I loved it ! I did not know, until today, that seasoned meant “flavored”, or… “experienced” (and the circle closes itself, isn’t it crafty ?).

Well, do you remember that you FORGOT that the name of the group The Police is based on police ? And that you don’t think about Washington (the man) when you say Washington (the State) ? Well, when you learn a language, you are new to many words. You realise that you can watch a watch, that “hang up” the phone is a bit illogical (“UP ? Really ?”), and that you have to dig, really, to understand the differences between Impressed, Awestruck and Dumbfunded.

More : some English words are written the way French words are. Sometimes it’s fantastic ! If in a poem you read “She sang”, you just see a woman singing, but “sang”, in French, means “blood”. Immediatly, she sings under (or to) the clouds, and these clouds are dramatically red. A whole landscape appears. Funny, right ?

Other example : pain, in French, is bread. Each time an ESL reads you have pain, you have some bread. Voilà.

Your language, you see ?, is a bit strange, or tastier when you’re a foreigner. Yum ! Food !

Let’s invent this tool :

If you’re blocked on a text, an article, a paragraph, translate it ! If you’re a bit lazy, you’ll have to make it simpler. If you are full of energy, you’ll search for subtilities in the “other language” : it’ll give you ideas, patterns, new lights, seeds.

 

#chocolate #chocolat #lenôtre