When the Bread of Life Kills: Ergotism

On September 5, 1951, Janet Flanner --- who wrote for The New Yorker under the name of Genêt --- related a story in her Paris Journal 1944 - 1965 that seemed to come from a medieval morality play. Pont St.-Esprit,  a  small village near Avignon and the ancestral home of Jackie Kennedy's grandfather, woke up to…

The Things They Carried*: Brief Glimpses of French Food in Vietnam

In the film, "Indochine," you sense the rampant orientalism that made Edward Said one of the most quoted scholars on the subject of colonialism and the creation of the "Other." The heat, the fans, the sweat, the passions, the exoticism and erotocism, all these visual cues recreate the mental picture many of us have regarding…

And a Cake Fit for Three Kings: Galette/Gateau des Rois

Bonne Année! Happy New Year! I  first ate Galette des Rois in Paris, on a cold, rainy January day. The smell of the almond-paste filling seemed to reach right out through the door of the nameless little patisserie near the Rue Monge and grab me by the lapels of my  too-thin coat. I couldn't wait to…

Panis focacius, la Gibacié, and la Pompe à l’huîle, Kin Under the Crust, One of the Thirteen

Christmas cakes were baking, the famous pompou and fougasse, as they were called, dear to the hearts of the children of old Provence. ~~ Christmas in Legend and Story A Book for Boys and Girls I've always loved the "Jacob's Ladder" look of fougasse. The lacy leaf-like lattice reminds me of the connection between bread and…