There's a great Frenchie Foodie blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, by Clotilde who in one post wrote about being gifted her grandmother's old French cookbooks that had belonged to her great-grandmother before her. Recipes before WWI with a focus on the young French housewife, with old, tattered pages and much loved dishes that involved lots of butter.
Last weekend I came across some of my late mother's cookbooks - even a French one or two - when I cleaned out her garage and said goodbye to my childhood home - a bit tristesse.
But the one cookbook I couldn't find - the treasure I remember - is my mother's worn, spattered paged 'The Joy of Cooking'. I remember that book open on the kitchen counter at every Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and more often than that. The red ribbon marker stuck in the gravy page, the flecks of flour stuck in the binding, the butter stain still there from when we made butter cookies and I was ten years old. But it's gone. No trace in the boxes or anywhere so I'm commemorating her cookbook here. Yes, she gave me my own copy of 'The Joy of Cooking' which I've used, but it's not the same.
I did find her copy of the Julia Child Bible - Mastering the Art of French Cooking - which she'd used so often she'd taped the peeling binding together. That's in my kitchen now.
I salvaged the cookbooks she used which, like Clotilde's great-grandmother, came from a time when she was a young wife in the 1950's, not 1915. Here's the Gourmet Cookbook complete with her notation of a half a cup and a gravy stain.
Speaking of being in butter, as the French term the very wealthy - what's with the exodus of milliardaires - the latest being Gerard Depardieu - leaving France for tax reasons? Shouldn't the wealthy, like Gerard, spread the butter as President Hollande wants them to with a 75% tax on these milliardaires?
Gerard's an actor with an outsize personality and stringy blond hair who turns 64 next week, and has made more than 180 films in a four-decade career. Born into a working class family, his father was a metal worker and he left school at 15. He's been made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, has many children with many women and is known for his Rabelaisian appetites for wine and food. Truth to tell he's one of the only French actors today bankable throughout the world apart from Catherine Deneuve.
Over the past year he's been in the headlines for crashing his motor scooter several times while driving drunk down a Paris street.
Yet In the words of his ex-wife, 'This is someone who left because he lacked attention, love. Should we throw stones? He is a monument. He is a poet.'
A local hero to some and criticized by others.
He's given up his French citizenship, taken a Russian passport and been welcomed with a hug to Russia by Vladmir Putin.
“I paid $190 million in income taxes over 45 years,” said Depardieu, pointing out that he is “leaving after paying, in 2012, an 85 percent tax-rate on my income tax.”
He created and invested in restaurants, wine bars, vineyards: “80 people are working thanks to me, in companies that were created for them and are managed by them.
That's true. My friends live on the rue Cherche Midi in Paris, a former hangout of Gerard's when he owned a house there, one of several in Paris. They said he bought the restaurant on the corner because he liked the food and the owner couldn't meet his bills. Their local fish store too since he liked the fish and the fishmonger was in danger of closing.
But now in Russia Gerard's been offered the position of Minister of Culture in Mordovia—a region best known for its Stalin-era gulags. Somehow I can't see him going for gulag cuisine.
Meanhwhile Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France and a billiardaire, whose company owns Moet and Chrisian Dior has also moved out of France. He's moved just over the border into Belgium. Closer than Gerard to French cuisine. Bernard’s shareholding in his luxury goods business LVMH Moet Hennessy, is as fussy and layered as a Christian Dior couture gown.
Three dozen men and women work on the top floors of the building, sewing triple-layered hand-painted organza for Middle-Eastern sheikhas and French mademoiselles. Delphine Arnault, the deputy general manager at Dior and daughter of Bernard, had her own wedding dress made there a couple years ago. Her gown took 700 hours to construct, plus 600 more hours of embroidery on the 180 yards of silk organza and 20-foot-long veil.
Cara - Tuesday