Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part III

Once settled into their bungalow overlooking Stanley Pool in Brazzaville, the Vassals faced the problem of hiring household help, especially a cook. Unlike many Europeans, they found a cook who knew his business, of whom Gabrielle wrote: I am glad, too, to have a change from German cooking.* Our primitive black Matamba is far superior … More Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part III

Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part I

When the French government appointed Dr. Joseph Vassal, Englishwoman’s Gabrielle Vassal’s French husband, Head of Health Services for Equatorial French Africa (A.E.F.), he exclaimed happily to her, “Je suis nommé en A.E.F.” Naturally she asked, “What’s A.E.F.?” So he replied “Afrique Equatoriale Francaise,” and pointed to Gabon, Tchad, Oubangi-Chari, and the Congo, with its capital … More Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part I

Léon Isnard: Bringing the Cuisines of Africa to France

“It seems that the word couscous is a Gallic version of “rac keskes,” which means “crushed small.” ~ Leon Isnard Whether you think about it consciously or not, the nineteenth-century European drive for overseas colonies still molds our world. Ever since the Portuguese sailed for Prince Henry the Navigator out of Sagres, an ocean-facing place … More Léon Isnard: Bringing the Cuisines of Africa to France

Banania — an Image of French Colonialism?

I will tear down those Banania smiles from the walls of France. ~~ Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet and first president of independent Senegal*   Branding. Such a loaded word, when you consider it. For many Americans it suggests branding cattle and other property, to prove ownership. Very capitalistic, those cowboys, don’t you think? In any … More Banania — an Image of French Colonialism?

Culinary Diffusion? Yes, in Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens

In a way, it’s the French version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” World-famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, chose fifteen women from Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris housing mostly poor immigrants mainly from France’s former North African colonies. An article in The New York Times tells the whole story, almost a Cinderella saga: 15 … More Culinary Diffusion? Yes, in Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens

The Potager of Thomas Jefferson: A Kitchen Garden in Photos

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, that amazing genius and inventor, and — according to the late food writer, Karen Hess — probably America’s first real gourmet. Any lover of books, art, architecture, wine, and food should dream of visiting this place at least once. [Note: It’s the only house declared a UNESCO World Heritage … More The Potager of Thomas Jefferson: A Kitchen Garden in Photos