Paris, Mon Amour

Paris will always be my first love, at least as far as cities go. I've spent many, many days and nights loving Paris, and France, in the company of people I deeply love, as well as on my own. Yet another ode here, yes, among many. I cried when I heard of the mayhem in Paris, not because…

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The Essence of Photography: Part I

Photography is all about the camera, right? Not exactly. You see, for me, photography provides an elusive and spiritual aspect to my daily life. When I browse through the photographs that I’ve stored in my camera or on files on my computer, so many times I’m struck by what I didn’t see at the moment…

French Bistro: Seasonal Recipes

“A visual feast as well as a gastronomic one . . . Organized by ten essentials that any successful bistro must have, French Bistro almost reads like a graphic novel, thanks to the prolific and colorful photographs.” When you walk into a Paris bistro straight off the street on a cool fall day, the odd leaf rustling…

Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends

“Rich with the flavor of words . . . a marvelous and kaleidoscopic view of Paris . . .” Gazing on Paris now from the vantage point of the Pont Neuf or the top of the Eiffel Tower or down the Champs Élysées, it’s nearly impossible to grasp the fact that in 1871 Paris lay…

Assimilating “The Other”

Leslie Page Moch, author of Moving Europeans: Migration in Western Europe Since 1650 (1992, Indiana U. Press), has written another book, Pariahs of Yesterday: Breton Migrants in Paris (Duke University Press, 2012). Her book promises insights into the process of integration, a very useful understanding of present-day migrants in France, people from France's former colonies:…

Dreaming of France on a Foggy February Morning

This morning I woke up to fog so thick that I wondered if perhaps I'd morphed into a another place altogether, like London. The branches of the large oak clinging to the hillside resembled nothing less than a print of a retina found in an old medical book. I started thinking of France as I…

Arabs in France: An Early Account by an Egyptian Imam

Rare is the native English speaker who reads and writes Arabic, classical or otherwise. And thus a vast body of literary work lies inaccessible to those who desire to increase their understanding and appreciation of the Arabic-speaking world. Because there is this hole in the material available to scholars and others, the scholarship of much…

Cris de Paris: The Street Criers of Paris in Bygone Days

Mushrooms abound in the markets of France in October and early November. And since I found stalls bursting with all sorts of mushrooms, I began to wonder if there were any "street cries" or market songs or whatever you might wish  to call them peculiar to mushrooms. Associated with various métiers (or trades) dating back…

Worshipping Different Gods … The French (Food) Reformation

People throughout history reveal their preoccupations through their architecture, artifacts, and the written word. These aspects reflect what matters to societies at various times. It comes down, in a way, to questions of taste, not just alimentary, but cultural and moral. The fashions, the trends, the modes of the day pass and morph into others…

L’Armagnac Vieux of the Tour d’Argent (and More)

Beauty comes in many guises. Appropriately for a restaurant in full view of Notre Dame and its mythical hunchback, the dining room of the Tour d'Argent in Paris resembles the prow of a ship sailing off into the sunset. Some critics say its reputation for good food departed some time ago. An auction in December…

Belleville Revisited

The Belleville market -- straddling the crossroads of Paris's 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements -- presents the determined photographer with a tremendous dilemma: how to take pictures without being literally swept up in the crowds and jostled like a buoy bobbing in heavy seas? Although the market runs from the Menilmontant metro stop to…

The Last Vineyard in Paris? Clos Montmartre

Through the seasons of the year, the Montmartre vineyard prevails ... the temple of Bacchus no longer sits on the steep slopes and the vineyard covers only a small portion of prime real estate, 1500 square metres to be exact. Benedictine monks in the 12th century produced wine here, their monastery destroyed during the French…

In the Parisian Kitchen

Many years ago, when I first fell in love with Paris, I stayed in hotels and suffered through agonizingly mediocre dinners in nameless bistros, always longing for a kitchen of my own, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf. When I finally realized that renting an apartment made more sense monetarily and culinarily, why then I invested in…

The Weird, Different, and Just Plain Interesting Restaurants of Paris: A Photo Gallery

Like many of you, I dream about being in France. A lot. And, of course, I daydream about eating in Paris, in spite of naysayers who point their compasses at other, more culinarily au courant corners of the globe. I'm already making lists of culinary adventures in preparation for my grant-sponsoredjourney this fall, doing research…

Eating Around the Empire in a Day: The 1931 Paris International Colonial Exposition

To her sons who have extended the empire of her genius and made dear her name across the seas, France extends her gratitude. ~~ Inscription on the facade of the colonial museum, now the Cité Nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration Before EuroDisney, people who might never be able to go to Tahiti or Senegal or…

The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France

In his  timely Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 (2011), Ian Coller writes of the Arab families associated with Ya'qub Hanna, an Egyptian, a Copt and first non-French general who'd served with  Napoleon Bonaparte in his military campaigns in Egypt. The cover, I believe, was chosen to highlight the idea of…

Fatéma Hal, Queen of Moroccan Cuisine in France

Fatéma Hal, a Moroccan chef with a penchant for busting female stereotypes, cooks traditional Moroccan food at her Parisian restaurant, La Mansouria (11, rue Faidherbe, 11th Arrondissement, Paris), opened in 1984. The restaurant began with only women working there, including Fatéma's mother, the cooking in "the hands of women." Unusual for France, non? One of…

Le départ des fruits et légumes du cœur de Paris: The Loss of Paris’s Les Halles

In 1969, Paris's ancient central market of Les Halles, having grown enormously, and congested to boot, moved to Rungis, just on the outskirts of the city. Émile Zola wrote of the old Les Halles in his The Belly of Paris, volume three of Zola's twenty novels examining the French bourgeoisie, civil conflict, hunger, and poverty.…