Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LULU ROUGET & THE BIRTHDAY LUNCH


Many years ago, a July offered us a month of rainy days. Black and gloomy, no rest for the weary, rain day in, rain day out. Rain, incessant, insistent rain. Yet we awoke that fateful day, the 23rd of that long-ago July, to a sky painted baby blue. I stepped out onto the street dressed all in white, my wild mane of dark, dark hair against a backdrop of brilliant sunlight, a glorious summer day and we walked to the town hall to be married. A month of rainy days broken by one single day of summer splendor.

Friday, January 25, 2013

VISUAL FEAST IV

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CITY 


The sun peeps over the horizon, grasse matinée, watching the sun rise from under the covers we begin our day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

VISUAL FEAST III

MUSICAL INTERLUDE


Music for the eyes, my saunter through my market, a swing through the grocery store and tumbles of cauliflower, watery green enveloping creamy white; heaps of citrus in silken orange, neon bright, the shimmer of overhead lights leaving a smear of shine; knobbly spuds and gnarly tubers in violet fading to black or a rainbow of warm chocolate browns; the harsh pinks of rabbit flesh, arms stretched out in supplication, empty eyes staring into nothingness, the shock of Eraserhead images lying placidly, violently in the butcher’s case. I capture my visual feast, a winter’s palate of earthy, rooty things, sordid beauty broken by the pale charm of buckets of roses, sweet and a hint of romance. A week of replacing words with images, visual moments, illustrations of my city, my life, filtered, sharpened to a pointed observation or muted to a fuzzy, romantic recollection. Taste with your eyes, your imagination.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CINNAMON SUGAR OR SOUR CHERRY JAM FANTANS

A BAKING BABE

A Babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and man. 
Martin Fraquhar Tupper 


Being called Honey or Babe incenses me. Unless it is my husband (although as we are not a nickname kind of family, his calling me Honey or Babe or the horrid French Cherie! would, if anything, make me laugh). Or a girlfriend. Sunshine I kind of like if it is said in a spirit of generosity. Being whistled at from a stranger comes close to falling into this same category of taking liberties, and well, if it is meant as a compliment I do believe that I would accept it gracefully. If done as one would whistle at a bad dog or monkeys at the zoo then, well, no thank you. I despise when my sons call me Dude instead of Mom, I’ve had male doctors actually pat me on the head and say “Don’t worry your little head with this, ma Kiki!” When my brother calls me Sis, I tend to shake at the knees, wondering what ultimate underlying intention is behind the outward affection. But what I love about nicknames, as normally averse as I am to them, as degrading and belittling as they can be if said by the wrong person or under the wrong circumstances, when inappropriate or said with a certain machismo, oozing insincerity, is the sense of inclusion they connote if said in just the right spirit by just the right person. I love the familiarity with which e-mails from a certain friend begin Good Morning, Hunny Bunny!; the intimacy inherent in the Bonjour, darling! from a male friend, much like an endearing bear hug; the sense of group and affection when referred to as Saucy by a special gang of gal pals. Jamela from two singular – and Jewish – girlfriends warms my heart the same way it always did whenever Dear Old Dad called me Bubbela.

Monday, January 14, 2013

JP’S MOROCCAN PRESERVED LEMON & OLIVE CHICKEN TAGINE

TAGINE DE POULET AUX CITRONS CONFITS ET OLIVES

Life is either a great adventure or nothing. 
Helen Keller 


Some children are just born for adventure, have it in their blood, jump into new undertakings with both feet, laughing out loud. Clem was this child, courageous and curious. Happily dipping into a ditch, river or lake with both hands, a net or a fishing rod, buckets of snails or tadpoles or frogs found their way back home. Ever fearless, he tromped through woods, fields, beaches looking for animals, treasures, mushrooms, waltzed through museums and monuments, up dizzying tower staircases, boarded airplanes all alone which would take him flying off to far-away lands when he was all but a tiny four-year-old surrounded by strangers. And at ten, he and his father giddily prepared their backpacks for their newest adventure, a trekking holiday through the Moroccan desert.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

GALETTE DES ROIS WITH VANILLA BEAN APPLE PASTRY CREAM

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, 
Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; 
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, 
In the bleak midwinter, Long ago. 
Christina Rossetti, 1872 


The steely winter continues. We stay huddled indoors, no desire to emerge from our cosy cocoon and no longing to spend more time than necessary out in this intemperate weather. No snow to brighten, no snow to gladden and excite, drawing us outdoors like wide-eyed children, bundled up against the chill, damp mittens tossing snowballs at each other. Simply gray days, indecisive weather, no cheer. Mornings spent cooking, afternoons lolling about, evenings in front of the tv, weekends watching rugby, this bleak midwinter is so perfectly formed for family time and for eating. Husband has a good old-fashioned Pot au Feu simmering on the stovetop, hearty and comforting, and I attempt to perfect my puff pastry, my Galette des Rois.

Monday, January 7, 2013

CINNAMON CARAMELIZED APPLE KING’S CAKE

GALETTE DES ROIS aux POMMES CARAMELIZÉES


Lights off, the gray, silent afternoon seeps in through the curtains allowing me just enough illumination to slice and chop apple, the slick flesh leaving a sticky glaze on my hands. As the fog settles onto the city’s rooftops, enveloping the church towers in a soft blanket of mystery, graffiti in pink, blue and gold pressing forward in an endless effort to assert itself, I press my hands into the chilled pastry, brush off a cloud of wintry flour and prepare to assemble this year’s Galette. The hours upon hours, weeks into years, I spent long ago watching a chef pound, roll, turn endless mounds, endless squares, endless layers of puff pastry come back to me, his hypnotic movements, the creamy dough against the silver shine of the worktop reminding me, urging me on. I try and imitate his actions, but lose myself in the sensual pleasure of my every gesture, the clean, bright scent of fresh dough, its smooth, cool softness, the delicate poof of powdery flour that rises around me, making me laugh. And I forget the haunting grayness of this bleak midwinter.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2012 to 2013 GRACEFULLY

New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. 
- Hamilton Wright Mabie 


2012 was nothing short of tumultuous. We bought, renovated and moved into a new home. Our tiny pup was operated on and at death’s door, his ticket for Paradise purchased twice and then given several reprieves; and we thought only cats had nine lives. Prodigal son – the second one – returned home from a year in New Orleans, more than six months with his grandmother in Florida and three months in Italy and finally, after an entire lifetime of a turbulent relationship with school, found his vocation, his place, much to our joy and relief. Both sons are now well on their way to creative careers in architecture and design, both talented and happy. And the two of us? We are in career limbo, teetering on a creative tightrope, looking for inspiration in all the… well, everywhere. Projects were put on hold as we hammered and sawed, packed and unpacked, pampered our poor Marty, fretted and worried and ate more than our fair share of sandwiches, kabobs and pizzas and now they are back on track.

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