Results tagged prune from David Lebovitz

Far Breton

Far Breton French pastry_-4

The other day, while minding my business, taking a casual stroll about town, I suddenly realized that I’d written “Bonne anniversaire,” or “Happy Birthday,” in French, here on the site. It’s an honest mistake because the happy (or bon, er, I mean, bonne) expression is pronounced bonneanniversaire, rather than bon (with a hard “n”) anniversaire, because, as the French would say, it’s “plus jolie,” or simply, “more beautiful.”

(And I’m pretty sure I got that jolie right. Since it refers to l’expression, which is feminine, it’s jolie, rather than, joli. Although both are pronounced exactly the same. And people think I spend all day making up recipes…)

I raced back home as fast as my feet could take me, shoving pedestrians aside and knocking over a few old ladies in my path, to correct it to “Bon anniversaire.” Then afterward, after I caught my breath, I did a search on some French grammar sites on the Internet and landed on one forum with four intricate pages of heated discussions on whether it was actually masculine (bon) or feminine (bonne). Everyone (well, being France, most people…) agreed that it was masculine – although curiously, it’s pronounced as bonne, the feminine, when wishing someone, or anyone, a “Happy Birthday.”

Far Breton

Just like you would never write, or say, ma amie (feminine) – even if “my” friend was a girl or woman, because it would sound like ma’amie, which reads like Finnish, and if spoken (go ahead, try it) sounds like bleating sheep. So it’s always mon ami, and mon amie, a gender-bending (and for us learning the language, a mind-boggling) minefield of a mix of masculine and feminine pronouns.

Another thing that confuses people is salade, which is what lettuce is generally referred to in French, when talking about the genre of lettuces. If it is a specific kind of lettuce – batavia, rougette, romaine, l’iceberg, etc, it’s often referred to by type. Yet the word salade is also used to refer to composed salads, like salade niçoise, salade de chèvre chaud, and salade parisienne. Hence non-French speakers are often confused when they order a sandwich with salade and find a few dinky leaves of lettuce on their plate, not the big mound of nicely dressed greens that they were hoping for.

Far Breton

Whew! After those first three paragraphs, I think you’ll understand why French is a tricky language to master, and even the French are at odds with how to say and write what. No wonder everybody smokes. #stress In fact, I think I also need to step outside myself after writing all of that.

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Purple Paris

Paris

I was buying a bike recently and, for some reason, the store offered the bike I wanted in two shades: black and prune (plum), one of the many variations on purple (which include, but are not limited to, violet, purple, and magenta) in the French vocabulary. I wasn’t sure I wanted a purple bike, but then I thought about how purple has invaded Paris – especially evident when an old-fashioned, traditional French butcher shop reopened this fall after an extensive renovation…

But it wasn’t just the butcher…

Paris

It was also the purple pâtisserie and pain maker…

Paris

And the purple pane-maker…

Paris

And the eyeglass maker…

Paris

Or you can peep across the street, to another eyeglass maker…

Paris

And there’s the make-up maker…

Paris

The phone broker…

Paris

And the salad maker…(ie: me)

Paris

The ticket maker…

Paris

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Chocolate-Prune Cake

chocolate cake

A while back, there was a spate of books about how to ‘sneak’ ingredients that are ‘healthy’ into food for your kids, to trick them into eating better. (Raymond Sokolov wrote an excellent rebuttal to that.) And recently there have been a few books written about how kids in France eat, and behave, better than their counterparts elsewhere. I can’t really comment on them in-depth because I haven’t read the books, but I do know two things from my own observations.

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Prune-Stuffed Prunes

stuffed prunes with prunes

In what could be the hardest-sell on the planet, I always try to talk people who come to Paris into trying Pruneaux d’Agen fourrés, which are prunes stuffed with prunes. In spite of their reputation, prunes are a great delicacy in France and rightfully so; one taste of even just a regular pruneau d’Agen (especially mi-cuit, or “partially dried”), and you’ll plotz the first time after your first bite. (Although sometimes you need to give it a few hours for the full effect.)

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Blood, Bones & Butter

I started reading Blood, Bones & Butter, not quite knowing what to expect. Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef of Prune restaurant in New York City and for those who haven’t been, it’s a rather modest little place that aspires (and succeeds) in doing nothing more than serving very good food, simply prepared, in a friendly space.

Hamilton is a very good writer, but I wasn’t sure if her story would be anything that I could relate to. Was it going to be a nasty retelling of events in her past? Were we going to learn her philosophy of cooking? Was she writing to settle some old scores? Thankfully it was not really any of those, although they’re woven into her story as she reveals some things in her life (and hides a few) that made her who she is today.

It’s hard to write a memoir and be honest, while at the same time, not alienating readers. For example, people think that living in Paris means sitting around in cafés all day eating croissants and macarons, and someone has to show them otherwise ; ) Life isn’t always rosy and showing your flaws, and pointing out a few in others, is just part of reality. One doesn’t need to dwell on them – and Hamilton certainly doesn’t – but she does include a number of incidents that manage to convey to us “the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef”, which is the apt subtitle of this book.

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Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

grapefruit campari sorbet

Coming from San Francisco, a place where there essentially aren’t any seasons, it’s been an interesting transition living in France, where each season has its own rhythm and distinct feeling. Winter, as you can imagine, is the least favorite season of the year and this past winter was particularly somber and dismal. Parisians refer to the dreary gray days of winter, and the tristesse that accompanies it, an effect of la grisaille.

grilled lamb

Yet when seasons change here, it usually happens in one day. All of the sudden, you find yourself able to open a window and you might head out with just two, instead of seven, layers of clothing. And from that day on, it’ll stay that way until the start of the next season.

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Les Tomates

cherry tomatoes

The French have a lot of protests and manifestations. Some of the issues they march for are a bit of a reach and we roll our eyes. And it’s annoying when the trains and other forms of transport go on strike and you need to get somewhere. But on the other hand, it’s good that they feel strongly about certain issues, enough to hit the streets. So yesterday there was a mouvement social in my neighborhood. But the one yesterday was an issue I could easily get behind.

Many people have an image of France as being an agricultural country, packed with farmers growing produce and selling it at local markets. This is pretty true outside of the major cities, but only two of the outdoor markets in Paris are “farmer’s” markets: a majority of the merchants buy produce from Rungis, which they boast is the largest market the world, and the produce gets resold at the open air markets sponsored by the ville de Paris.

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J’Go

lamb chops

I vaguely remember my first visit to J’Go. I think it had something to do with a wild night at the bar, and involved French rugby players drinking Armagnac shots off my belly. But unless someone has photo proof, I’m going to just assume that my memory may be off. (It very well may be, if it involves my having a belly concave enough to hold any sort of liquid.)

cassoulet bowls

The name J’Go is a jeux de mots, a play on words for ‘gigot‘, which is pronounced exactly the same and means ‘leg of lamb.’ But here, it’s a bit of Franglais, since it can mean “I go” if you’re mixing the two languages up. But if you’re someone who likes great spit-roasted lamb, I’m not sure how to conjugate that in a similar fashion, so I’ll just tell you that j’go’d to J’Go three times this month alone,

waiter egg & beet salad

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