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February 2020 Newsletter

Last month was a virtual, and physical, whirlwind. I made a quick trip to the States to put the finishing touches on preparations for my spring book tour, nailing down as many venues as I can. While back in France, many breathed a sigh of relief that the lingering strikes in France are over - whew!

The grève was the longest strike in the history of France and the sidewalks of Paris were packed with people weaving back and forth, dodging electric scooters and bicyclists, everyone braving their own way to get to where they needed to go. Walking anywhere left me feeling like the ball in a pinball machine. The strikes were in opposition to proposed reforms, and a nebulous plan to streamline the 42 different retirement systems in France. The conflicts haven't been completely resolved, though, so if you're coming to France, just monitor the situation like everyone else is. And take any delays or modifications of your plans in stride, as French people do. (Albeit, grudgingly.)

Persimmon bread pudding recipe james beard -4

I haven't been on strike, for better or for worse, since I've got a book coming out next month. I spent two years bringing Drinking French to fruition, pretty much working (and, yes, drinking) non-stop, focusing on research, writing, and coming up with the 160 recipes in the book.

Although the book is talked about as being a "cocktail book," in fact, the first chapter focuses on café drinks and classics, like citron pressé, chocolat chaud (featuring not one, not two...but three brand-new hot chocolate recipes), herbal infusions and tisanes, Moroccan fresh mint tea, a refreshing rosemary and ginger concoction that I drank when I had to give up coffee (which for some reason, people online got rather worked up about...I learned that people don't like it when you can't drink coffee...that story is in the book) from Café Méricourt, as well as getting my morning café au lait in there, too. Going back to drinking coffee seemed to please everyone - including me.

The second chapter is all about apéritifs, low ABV drinks that coincide with the French way of drinking. If you've ever wondered what's in all those pretty bottles lined up behind French bars and cafés, I explain what they are...and how to enjoy 'em. (So you can order one like a local in France!) And if you want to make your own libations, I've got another chapter on homemade infusions, cordials, liqueurs, crèmes, and even a confiture.

Drinking France: The Iconic Cocktails, Apéritifs and Café Traditions of France, with 160 Recipes, is now available for pre-order from your local independent bookseller or online from Barnes and Noble (which has signed editions!), Amazon, and IndieBound. Book Depository delivers worldwide.

Bigallet Drinking French-3

As I worked on stories and recipes for my blog, and nailing down dates and places for my book tour, I was thwarted by my internet going down, which, reminded me of when my internet went on the fritz for three-to-four months many years ago, before anyone had a smartphone. (I know, it seems like a long way away, doesn't it?) But when I arrived in France, few people even had the internet access at home. Mobile phone service was eye-wateringly expensive; my service was 50 centimes per minute, which helped me to learn French, having to speak it so quickly. Now, at least, I can connect with my syrupy-slow 3G network (if I'm lucky, occasionally my phone will connect to the 4G one.) But at least I didn't stand in the middle of my apartment, as I recounted in The Sweet Life in Paris...and scream.

And thankfully, I have a lot of bottles of liquor on hand, to handle any current and future emergencies that may arise : )

I finally broke through the 3-day delay in getting through on the telephone to my internet provider, who restored my service. When I asked the woman on the phone how she did it, so I knew what to do the next time - and didn't need to spend three days of my life trying to get through to them again - all she said was, "C'est magique, monsieur!" And that was that. #smallvictories

I've learned that whatever it takes to succeed in something , you just take it and don't ask questions. Now that things are back up and running, I'm working on a few blog posts and sharing more dates (below) on my book tour schedule. So I'm looking forward, not backward, being thankful for what I have, not dwelling on what I don't have.

(Okay, well maybe just a little. I do like having internet access, yet I don't miss that 50 centimes per minute mobile phone service.)

Hope you have a happy, healthy...and well-connected month!

- David


Drinking French Events

Drinking French book cover

Drinking French arrives on March 3rd and WHSmith in Paris is getting the exclusive to do a pre-release event on February 27th from 6 - 7:30pm. This event is free and open to all. Sign up on the WHSmith Paris Facebook events page.

I'll be doing an in-flight apéritif tasting (I know...right?) on La Compagnie airlines on February 28th, then I'll be in Brooklyn with Melissa Clark of the New York Times and author of Dinner in French, on March 11 in the Murmrr auditorium. You can sign up for tickets here. In April, my pal Michael Ruhlman will join me at the 92nd St Y in Manhattan on the 27th. (Tickets here.) Just a heads-up that ticketed events often sell out, so if you'd like to come to one of those events, you may want to get tickets now.

I'm trying to get to whatever places/cities I can during those months, but if I can't make it to your city, feel free to come to me!

Drinking French can be pre-ordered at theses independent and online booksellers:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kitchen Arts & Letters / Indiebound / Book Depository (free int'l shipping) / Kitchen Larder / Powell's / RJ Julia / Omnivore

Personalized signed books can be pre-ordered from Book Larder and Omnivore books. Contact the stores for details.


Links to Lighten Things Up

Hard a tough week? Here are some fun links that (hopefully) will put a smile on your face...

-Carol Channing Dancing with The Association - Prepare for something very groovy! (YouTube)

-Exploring the peculiarities of French Humor (France24 video)

-Had it with staged Instagram influencer photos? Influencers in the Wild captures what's really happening behind-the-scenes, behind those photos (Instagram)

-Who knew cheese rolling was a sport? (Messy Nessy Chic)

-The Microwaved Manhattan is a real thing (Punch)

-Ali Wong is on tour, and coming to Paris. And if you haven't seen her guide to Asian Restaurants, like her, it's pretty funny. (L'Olympia and Vulture)

-My friend Jane shares her perfect day in Paris (HIP Paris)


Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

This Tourtière generated a lot of comments (120!) Why not make it yourself and see what all the excitement is about?

Fifty million Frenchmen...and women, can't be wrong. One taste of this French Chestnut Spread and you'll be hooked too!

My search for crisp chocolate chip cookies - the kind you like, not tolerate while holding out for softer ones - ended here. These thin, crisp, chocolate chip cookies have lots of love to spread around.

France may not have succeeded in colonizing Mexico, but no matter where you are, you can make Pozole, the famed Mexican soup, garnished with avocados, radishes, cabbage or lettuce, and perhaps a little extra hot sauce, to make things a little more pimentée.

Make sure you're well-set in your saddle for this Jockey Club cocktail, which will have you neighing with delight. It's an old cocktail, revived for today, with gin, a burst of fresh lemon juice, and a sly pour of almond-flavored liqueur.

À votre santé !


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