Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Last Saturday, I happened to run into some happy Toulousains lunching on aligot, Aveyron's cheese and potato specialty, as they enjoyed the Christmas market on the Place du Capitole.
At first I wasn't absolutely sure what these Saturday shoppers were savoring, but a quick look around the market stands revealed potatoes and tomme fraîche all dressed up for the holidays:
I had hoped to get a closer look at the aligot operations, but couldn't break through the crowd at the highly popular stand. I guess aligot is a hit wherever it travels.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Only a little over two weeks until Christmas! Santé!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Last week, as I passed by on a damp, grey afternoon, the downtown institution wasn't looking so grand:
In fact, I'm wondering if it will ever be "GRAND" again:
I know. No need to press the panic button. Le Grand Hôtel Broussy is only being remodeled, and I'm sure it needs it.
Yet as I saw traces of its bright red past being tossed unceremoniously out its windows, I felt a wave of personal regret. I would never see it in all its delapidated glory.
Or could I glimpse at the interior, before it was too late?
I walked up toward the dusty lobby entrance, where a narrow door was, miraculously, open.
I dared to step in. The lobby was dirty and dreary, with a few pieces of wooden furniture strewn about. An immense dining or breakfast room lay to my right, bereft of furnishings.
Too quickly, a burly worker stomped down the main staircase. He looked at me. I scurried out.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Although I'm often in Rodez around dawn, I'm usually rushing across the Bourran viaduct to get to work after dropping my daughter off at her high school.
A surprising number of cars were out and about, perhaps because at least three buses were scooping up passengers for outings, including my daughter's to see an opera in Toulouse.
Only two businesses had opened their doors: one of the town's larger bakeries and a tobacco/press stand.
Not a single café was serving yet -- of course how many Ruthénois really want to be seen in public at 6:45 am on a Sunday morning?
The city was timidly opening an eye; some say it never entirely wakes up on Sunday. Perhaps it deserves a day of rest.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I've been having some interesting comment exchanges with My Inner French Girl, and she has tagged me for the much-circulated "Ten Random Things About Myself" meme. I generally don't post much personal material on La France Profonde, but the timing of this meme will also allow me to give you a better look at my new winter thumbnail!
1. I'm not a very random person. That's why I immediately organized this list around three main themes: French stuff, food stuff and really random stuff.
2. My first trip to France was to do a semester overseas in Tours. We got a two-week break in November. Most of my friends took off to sunny climates, but I found one taker to go to Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
3. The worst mistake I've ever made in French was to announce that I had cooked something "à poil" instead of "à la poêle." No translation will be provided!
4. After driving for 14 years in the USA with a perfect record, I failed the driving part of my first French driving test...but passed the written.
5. I was the very first person at my current workplace to "brownbag" it for lunch, and I took some flak for it. Now many of my colleagues, both French and anglophone, eat lunch at work. The times they are a changing...even in La France Profonde.
6. I know how to make confit de canard and terrine de foie gras, but don't know how to put them up. They're awfully good "fresh" anyway.
7. The only drinks I truly enjoy are water, coffee, wine and beer.
8. I used to be a college radio DJ at KZSU. This means I had some type of radio license and actually knew how to turn on and shut down a whole radio station.
9. My husband, two daughters and I have all of our birthdays in a two-week period in June. Mine is last, so it usually goes by the wayside.
10. I have gone by a nickname all of my life because my parents made the conscious decision to "officially" give me a regal name but "call me" Betty. It has held. And by the way, in France it's my "Saint's Name Day," or however you translate that. So since I know not much will happen on my birthday, maybe someone will remember ma fête!
Now for the fun part: tagging. It wasn't really clear how many bloggers to tag, so I'm going to go with three...and will be surprised if any of them come up with a list:
The Empathic Rationalist to see if he can blog about something other than politics and philosophy.
Paul from Jeannot's Weblog, in the hopes he won't write a list in computer programming language.
Brandon and Jessica Haskell, ESL teachers in South Korea, whom I found in a totally random way -- you see I can be random if I want to. I opened up Blogger and watched the "recent posts" float by, clicking on everything that looked potentially interesting. It took me 13 minutes to find an appropriate candidate. There is a lot of junk out there!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
And no, I'm not British -- but I know a lot of my readers are.
Since the original post, I've learned from the very knowledgeable My Inner French Girl that the article is an extract from a book that has actually been written by a fake "translator" -- British herself (read the comment below.)
I suppose that makes it a little funnier -- I know the British love biting humor/humour.
What do you think?
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I hid out in my office and started to reflect on the diminishing presence of Halloween in France. Google searches ensued.
Do you know what? Halloween has been around in France for quite a while now. Somehow I still feel like it's vaguely new. But I just happened upon an article from exactly ten years ago commenting on the rather strange arrival of Halloween in France:
"In one of the stranger manifestations of globalization, Halloween fever has abruptly gripped the French, sending pumpkin prices soaring and sorely testing the Gallic ability to pronounce "trick or treat," wrote Roger Cohen on October 31, 1997.
Ten years already! Yet apparently the bewitching party is almost over. Last year on this date, John Stodder reported that "Le Halloween, c'est mort," citing Forbes.com:
"The major dailies Le Monde and Le Parisien reported on Tuesday that following some short-lived popularity, the Halloween holiday has been 'pretty much buried.' The reasons seem to be a mixture of falling sales and anti-Americanism. Perchance a smattering of protectionism too. 'Our Halloween sales have been falling by half every year since 2002,' Le Monde quoted toy retailer La Grande Recre as saying."
Flailing perhaps, but not totally dead -- or why would we have a bevy of teenage French girls dancing around our house tonight, or a group of "treek or treetears" who just knocked at our door?
Friday, October 26, 2007
But I can really deal with this week's prompt, "hospital," only here at La France Profonde. Because I've already done it.
I know it may seem a little lame to write a Sunday Scribble consisting of little more than links to previous posts, but this is just the way it has to be on this subject.
So come with me to my corner of France and discover my definitive Rodez hospital series:
Good-bye, My Hospital
Combarel Hospital, the Old
Combarel Hospital, the Incongruous
Rodez Hospital, the New
(Click here to read more musings on the theme of "hospital.")
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Now it piques my curiosity: what did this house, duly lined up alongside a number of non-descript dwellings, do to merit such intricate features?
And why the blue and yellow, so out of tune with the general color scheme in "le Bassin," or the Decazeville mining area?
Sometimes I'm tempted to just knock on people's doors and ask them these questions -- while there are still residents around who know the answers! But I'm not sure how warm the welcome would be...
Sunday, October 21, 2007
My ears pricked up. And, much to everyone's surprise, I started asking questions. It turns out that Alain Ginesty, who runs an excellent boucherie-charcuterie-traîter in Sébazac near Rodez, had been to the festival -- and had indeed had a great time.
He was kind enough to lend me the brochure about the Marché des Pays de l'Aveyron which took place in Paris the weekend of October 5-7. Over 75 local food producers were plying Parisians with Aveyron's fabulous food specialties, such as aligot, fouace and Marcillac wine.
For those of you -- and from your comments I know you are out there -- who haven't yet experienced aligot, know that you can do so in Paris:
These are just two Aveyronnais restaurants in the City of Light, but I'm sure there are many more. Remember, you really haven't lived until you've tasted aligot!
Many thanks to Mr. Alain Ginesty for lending me the brochure about this event!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This week the writer of A Juicy Life shared her experience of cycling through part of Averyron:
"The landscape was so different from where we were and we instantly fell in love. It took us about 2 hours to get there and once we did we knew we definitely stepped up in terms of beauty, the landscape is like a dream....
Our original itinerary was to spend 1 week here and then head back to Spain and spend 1 week in Girona. Well, after 3 days here we have decided to extend our trip here and not spend 1 week in Girona. We have found the area we love...we don't want to leave...
We made some great friends on this trip and the Aveyron and around could be the best place we've yet been."
My parents feel the same way. They have visited quite a bit of France: Paris, the Loire Valley, Provence, Normandy, Dordogne, Alsace...but when asked what their favorite place in France is, their answer is always the same. And it starts with an "A."
(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Apparently, some sort of Aveyron festival was held in Paris last weekend. I couldn't find any official information about it...or let's just say that I didn't feel like floating around Internet for THAT long! But a couple of WordPress bloggers living in Paris apparently spent a "Sunday in the provinces" last weekend, visiting this Aveyron festival and discovering the joys of aligot:
"We noticed that everyone was carrying or eating plastic containers of a yellowy substance that looked like it had the consistency of cream cheese or pudding. Upon further investigation, we learned that it was called aligot, and a jolly old French man in traditional garb told me that it was made from potatoes, cheese, butter, creme fraiche, salt, and pepper - and just as much cheese as there is potatoes."
Their observations remind me that there was once a time when I had never even heard of aligot, Aveyron's trademark potato dish. Now it is just part of life, and especially part of festive meals. And I guess it can even be Parisian street food too...pourquoi pas?
(Image courtesty of JeDecouvreLaFrance.com, an information-packed site about France...in French.)
PS: As serendipity would have it, within two hours of writing this post, I was speaking to one of my butchers and it turned out he had been at the event. He lent me the official brochure, so more information about this Aveyronnais market in Paris will be on its way in the next few days.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Not exactly our Saturday evening outing of choice -- but the game got to be so exciting, we just had to stay on till the bitter end.
And what an end it was! Allez les bleus!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
...as well as some vague feminine disorder requiring "brain oxygenisation!"
All of the magazine's one-page advertisements were for medical remedies of some sort; only at the very back could I find a single, tiny ad for a food product.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
You said it, brother! "Insidious racism in France..." is an excellent way of putting it.
My daughters have spent hours at school studying American slavery, Rosa Parks and the March on Washington. Laudable topics all, but the French school curriculum somehow doesn't devote much time to the current racial situation in the USA. And I do feel the USA has progressed enormously in racial equality in the past 40 years.
Has France? And, for that matter, where is the subject of "racism in France" in the school curriculum? I must have missed it while I was helping my kids recite the key dates in the American civil rights movement...
Sometimes it's time to look in your own backyard...n'est-ce pas?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
This article, all the way from New Zealand, has a pretty cool photo of it too...
(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau.)