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January 2019 Newsletter

Where did the time go? It's January, so Happy New Year! I remember when our biggest challenge was remembering to change to the new year when writing a check. Nowadays, who writes checks anymore? I am sure in a few years, there will be people that don't even know what they are, or were.

I also had a birthday last month and the good thing about getting a little older, aside from being eligible for discounts on TGV tickets, is that I've seen so many things. Every year (and era) is an adventure. That's for sure.

Last month we saw a lot of adventure, and action, in France, with the Gilets jaunes, woman and men wearing yellow vests, protesting across the country, getting worldwide attention, with a majority of the news showing fiery images from the swanky Champs-Elysées, where stores boarded their windows up in anticipation of the disruption.

Demonstrations in France are usually planned in advance, and authorized, but this was different; a movement of people without a leader took to the streets and protested. Quite a few people asked me if it was safe, and if they should come to Paris?, which I responded to in that post.

Most of the demonstrations were limited to certain areas and although a truck got burned a few blocks away one night. That same evening, in that same area, people were sitting in cafés and having dinner, as if it was just like any other night.

The French have a pretty storied history of protesting and it's not like a strike or demonstration is an uncommon event, although this one was a little more forceful than others. Still, the cafés and restaurants in Paris trying to keep things business as usual. (Partially because businesses were concerned about taking such an economic hit. But the city actually made some places close, for safety reasons.)

Brittany France Photos-7

I'm not for destroying things, however, and it was sad that casseurs showed up, people whose intent is to just "break things," although young French writer Édouard Louis spoke about that in different terms, in an enlightening interview (in English) in the New Yorker.

His debut novel, The End of Eddy, is excellent, and I'm in the middle of reading his second book at the moment. So those thoughts have been occupying my mind in December, as well as others. I think one thing we all want to do is be informed. As a cook and baker, I'm always learning new things and (mostly) remaining open to other ideas. Chocolate-mint hummus, however, the jury is still out on...and my slow cooker, is something I'm still trying to understand. All I know is that the last thing I made in it took 2 1/2 days, something that used to take me 2-3 hours to cook in the oven. Yet, I persevered.

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So we'll see what happens as 2019 arrives. I am determined to get to the bottom of things. Yes, even if dinner doesn't get on the table...for 2 1/2 days.

My kitchen, famously (or infamously?) captured in L'appart, took another hit when my faucet went hooey and had to be replaced. Those who've read the book, know the faucet came from elsewhere because I wanted a professional model and the kind I wanted wasn't available in France for home use. Of course, the water lines didn't coincide (see below); they're two different sizes. (I thought it'd be funny to put it under "Links I'm Liking," because those are two links that don't work together - and I'm not liking those!) Since my plumber was having surgery the next day and would be out of commission for a couple of weeks, but I didn't see how I could make it through the holidays without the use of my kitchen sink.

There are, of course, worse problems than having to wash dishes in the bathtub. But we found a temporary solution, and I have water in my kitchen again, although I have to find a more permanent fix. A few readers suggested material for L'appart, part deux, but I think telling that story once is enough : )

Speaking of which, I've been buried in finishing up my next book whose deadline is the middle of January. Yikes! If I make it to the finish line, I hope to take a little vacation. Winter is pretty quiet in Paris, and while I love the calm (Christmas week was HEAVEN here), it gets pretty cold, and this ex-Californian still ain't used to the frigid temperatures. Thankfully there's French hot chocolate and Vin chaud (mulled wine) to carry us through.

I hope you all had a terrific holiday season!

- David


Links I'm Liking (Except for the one in this photo...)

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Yes, you can sound French when you speak French, even if you're American (YouTube)

Is your dream to be buried in a giant chili? Check out Ghana's Fantasy Coffins (Pulse)

Men, is something in your kitchen making your member less-memorable? (IFLScience! Via @amateurgourmet)

The challenges of baking at sea (Saveur)

Getting scammed by a "celebrity influencer" (Medium)

My advice: Don't watch the terrific (and traumatizing) film Bird Box on Netflix before you go to bed if you plan on getting any sleep that night (Wikipedia)

Fourteen Rules to Follow in France (Thrillist)

How carob traumatized a generation (New Yorker)

Is German bread the best in the world? (CNN)

French tourism head uses the word "lamentable" to describe some French restaurants (France 24)

Cookware start-ups "disrupt" the industry (Eater)

French food writer and critic François-Régis Gaudry names the best restaurants of 2018 in Paris, and in France (L'Express, in French)

Was Edna Lewis a communist? (Popula, via Will Write for Food)

French apple tart recipe-2

Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

This silky French Chocolate Cake can go in several directions, including gluten-free!

The Cranberry Auberge Cocktail will make winter a little more festive.

Cocktail whiz Jeffrey Morgenthaler changes up the recipe for Eggnog...for the better! I love his version...

A visit to Crown Finish Caves, where excellent cheeses are ripened underneath New York City.

Tarte normande is a classic French tart, flavored with calvados, the famed apple brandy from Normandy.

...see you next month!

- dl

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