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March, 2014

250 ways to prepare eggs

eggs

250 manières pour apprêter les oeufs, suivies de quelques recettes inédites de cuisine, 1898

On ne fait pas d’omelette sans casses des oeufs.

You know the saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”? Well, it is supposedly French in origin and emerged as a saying somewhere during the mid-nineteenth century, which is no surprise given the unprecedented level of egg breaking that was no doubt happening in France.

The author, Monsieur Ferdinand Grandi, parrots famed epicurean Brillat-Savarin in support of his obsession:

La découverte d’un mets nouveau fait plus pour le bonheur du genre humain que la découverte d’une étoile.

Brillat-Savarin

(The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star). That was his way of saying “Bite me, astronomers—chefs rule.”  So, I guess Monsieur Grandi was a sort of culinary Galileo when it came to making eggs. It’s not surprising, coming from a guy who wrote an entire book on the art of folding napkins. He also dabbled in food-themed poetry. In 1893, he wrote a book about 130 ways to prepare eggs, but clearly that wouldn’t do. Especially after another author wrote a book with 200 ways to prepare eggs. Now, Grandi could hold bragging rights to being top dog among the three authors of books dedicated solely to eggs.

Grandi’s  preface ends with the bold declaration that he would quit cooking if eggs were ever banned. um…ok.

oeufs

 

A treatise that includes everything from his thoughts on Darwin to commentary on the arts is well worth a read. You could be the most pedantic guest at your next cocktail party.

Or, if you just want to stay at home, stopping first, perhaps, at Walmart or Costco to pick up a few dozen eggs, you could try your hand at
Rissoles à la Pygmalion, Oeufs à la Olga, or any of the 248 other recipes.

250

 

Need to do a “cultural activity” for your French class? Read through the book and pick out a recipe or two. You’ll be making meals that Grandi once made for the “King of the Truffle,” Prince Demidov.

Bon appétit!

Stereotypes of the Francophone world, part 2

You may have seen maps of US states or countries of the world labelled by the first Google suggestions given when you ask “Why are (people from x country) __?” But those searches have all been done in English, to my knowledge.

So what happens when we search in French about other countries with high populations of French speakers? Last time, we looked at four francophone countries in Europe. Today, let’s take a look at North America and the Caribbean. We can’t cover every country, and many don’t have suggested Google results, but here’s a smattering of stereotypes for you.

New-Map-Francophone_World

Canadians (outside of the Québecois): Nice, maybe healthy (maybe not), and afraid of the dark. I find this adorable.

French Canadians: they do that weird swearing thing, they have an accent, and they are no longer pickup artists. What happened? Who hurt you?

US of Americans: I guess we’re all a bunch of fat, stupid, circumcised, English-speaking French-lovers. I guess we are stupid if we love a people that calls us fat and stupid.

Mexicans: Fat and longing to live in the land of the fat free.

Haitians: Oh my gosh, you can’t just ask people why they’re black.

 

Notes on (very unscientific) experimental set-up:

The search syntax “pourquoi est-ce que les (x) sont” didn’t really work, but “pourquoi les (x) sont” and just “pourquoi les (x)” did. Go figure.

I stole the map from here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New-Map-Francophone_World.PNG. And by stole, I mean used a work released into the public domain.

Blame this boring post on Paris, if you like

I’ve been so busy with prep for a couple months in Paris and other stuff, that I forgot it was my day to post until now. So I give you these two Paris-related youtube videos.

First, Andrew Ryan (no, that’s Andrew Ryan, not Andrew Livingston of What The French?!Although Andrew Livingston also plays a mean guitar, and assorted instruments of his own making) with Waiting for Paris”  (if you like it, he has an EP on iTunes). Not sure why he recorded this Youtube video outside with wind blowing in the mic, but here it is:

And then, there’s Rufus Wainwright’s “Leaving for Paris” presented below in a crappy live recording from a concert in Lille. You can hear him speak French at the beginning, then, for better (but still imperfect) audio, listen to the other video below.

Stereotypes of the Francophone world, part 1

You may have seen maps of US states or countries of the world labelled by the first Google suggestions given when you ask “Why are (people from x country) __?” But those searches have all been done in English, to my knowledge.

So what happens when we search in French about European countries with high populations of French speakers? Let’s find out:

francophone europe large

In red: France. The first and third searches, if true, might explain the second…

In yellow: Belgium. I’m almost inclined to say they can do anything they want, as long as they keep riding their motos in pyjamas.

In white: Switzerland. It seems they’re the rich, cultured kind of racists, not like those redneck Belgians.

In blue: Romania. They have the impressive distinction of not being known for their racism, although the first result, ‘dirty’, may well come from the other three countries above, and prove that yes, they are a little bit racist.

Surprised to see Romania mentioned? Although French is not an official language of the country, Romania has tons of fluent French speakers and well-established cultural ties (read about it here; scroll down a bit to get to “Francophonie”).

Note: the syntax “pourquoi est-ce que les (x) sont” didn’t really work, but “pourquoi les (x) sont” did. Go figure.

Sources:

1. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Europe_political_map.png

2. Google.

J’ai faim!

Hungry anyone? Eat some pizza.

Hungry and masochistic? Try French cooking. Here are a couple of sources to help you plunge into the deep end of cuisine:

Cuisine Attitude

Chef Cyril Lignac’s blog/magazine has got high quality recipes that will make Martha Stewart‘s fare look like your Aunt Betty’s funeral potatoes.

cuisine attitude

 

Intimidated? Afraid? A wise green man once said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” But then again, I don’t think anyone was serving up soufflé on Dagobah.

So I’ll go easy on you and give you another source:

Chocolate & Zucchini

Upbeat and charming Clotilde has a treasure trove of recipes, and her site has both English and French versions. I made the blueberry coffee cake and it was easy and amazing. I pinned it to my “random pins of Frenchness board” and it clearly made other people’s mouths water as well.

Chocolate and Zucchini

 

Go ahead. Be brave. And, hey, if you have a spectacular fail, take a photo and send it to us so we can ruthlessly mock you. Because that’s what friends are for.

Pardon Their French, part III

French usage in anglophone media can range from “pretty respectable” to “was that supposed to be French?” Last week, part deux focused on a character’s inexplicable French-narrated-while-singing thoughts in the TV show Community; on the first week, part 1 took a look at how French was used in Sherlock Holmes(film, 2009). Today’s follow-up goes right to the most glorious instance of French and Franglais ever used in film: the taunting French knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Do I need to set the scene for you? I hope not. You should be thinking of moose- and llama-riddled opening credits, an epic soundtrack, and questions of coconut migration already. But in this post, we’re just dealing with the French.

And what are the French doing in Britain?

Most of the dialogue is not in French at all, but instead an outrageous French accent. However, there’s one fantastic imperative that has (I hope) fooled legions of aspiring francophones:

Fetchez la vache!

Of course, fetcher is not a real French verb, but with all the other cognates floating around, it’s plausible that it would be. I like to think that somewhere out there, there’s been some nerdy kid raised on Monty Python who’s innocently dropped it into an attempted French conversation, only to elicit the same incredulous “Quoi?” as we hear from the other French knights.

 

For the quality of the French usage, 0/5 stars. For the quality of absolutely everything else, this classic is above reproach.

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