Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"My Fair Lady" -- Another Classic Film

Such wonderful and familiar songs! "My Fair Lady" is one classic that we've watched rather often. We love the performance of Stanley Holloway as Alfred Doolittle. And Audrey Hepburn's costumes were so glamorous. However, nothing beats the hats in the scene at the Ascot Races!

Our list of classic films to watch with Miriam keeps growing, and we may never run out. According to Wikipedia (source of all knowledge) -- "As of June 2017, IMDb has approximately 4.4 million titles (including episodes)." I don't know what percent are classics, but I think quite a few.

Oh, wait! This is a hat from the Ascot Races in real life -- a very old tradition!
From "The Most Bizarre Hats at the Royal Ascot Races," Time Magazine, June, 2011.

Chilled Pea Soup with Mint

Sautéed onions, vegetable broth, peas ... simmered for a little while...
Next: fresh mint & parsley...A little lemon juice ...
Mixture puréed  with the immersion blender...
Chilled and garnished with sour cream and chives. Very fresh-tasting and enjoyable.
Sheila's inspiring photo of chilled pea soup.
I was inspired to find a recipe for chilled pea soup with mint because my friend Sheila sent me a photo of this dish from a wonderful London restaurant. Len also had last month it in a very fine restaurant in Santa Fe (link here for more details). I decided that it was time for me to try making it.

The preparation would be quite simple, except that I made the vegetable stock from scratch rather than using stock mix or stock from a can. This could be a vegan dish if you used oil instead of butter for the sautéed onions, and chose a different garnish.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Classic Film for the Day: "Some Like it Hot"

Nothing I can say that hasn't been said about this one.

"A Gentleman in Moscow"

What is an aristocrat? I think this is the essential question of the novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

The book begins in 1922 with a trial. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov -- descendant of many counts and other nobility, product of a genteel upbringing by his oh-so-proper grandmother, graduate of elite Russian schools, and all-around member of the czar's upper crust -- is condemned to permanent house arrest in a grand hotel in Moscow. He thus becomes a "former person." In the new Soviet state, there's no place for him, but thanks to some poems he had written in youth, the court has judged him not to deserve a death sentence.

Count Rostov spends more than thirty years in the hotel, years that the author creates in an amazing and rich way. Perhaps the count is sometimes bored, but as a reader I was never at all bored by the narrow venue in which the Count is forced to spend his days and nights. Though forgotten by the authorities and by many of his former friends and schoolmates (that is, those who survived) he succeeds in creating a series of responsibilities for himself within his limited environment. The hotel offers him more stimulation than one would expect, as it continues to some extent to preserve its former luxury and to house visitors from abroad. He even manages to preserve "the Rostovs’ long-standing tradition— of gathering on the tenth anniversary of a family member’s death to raise a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape." (p. 84)

The count, with his knowledge of the wider world, is able to speak to them in their own languages and meet them on their own terms. Though he eventually takes a job as a waiter in the hotel's fine dining room, the Boyarsky, he retains his aristocratic dignity forever. Here's how he does his job:
"At 5:45, with his five waiters standing at their stations, the Count made his nightly rounds of the Boyarsky. Beginning in the northwest corner, he circulated through the twenty tables to ensure that every setting, every saltcellar, every vase of flowers was in its proper place.  
"At table four a knife was realigned to be parallel with its fork. At table five a water glass was moved from midnight to one o’clock. At table six a wine glass that had a remnant of lipstick was whisked away, while at table seven the soap spots on a spoon were polished until the inverted image of the room could be clearly seen on the surface of the silver. 
"This, one might be inclined to observe, is exactly how Napoleon must have appeared when in the hour before dawn he walked among his ranks, reviewing everything from the stores of munitions to the dress of the infantry— having learned from experience that victory on the field of battle begins with the shine on a boot."  (p. 203)
The count is not the only fascinating character in the book: there are many, both men and women. I wondered about both the characters and the hotel itself and especially about its kitchens and head chef Emile Zhukovsky:
"Along the wooden tables the junior chefs are chopping carrots and onions as Stanislav, the sous-chef, delicately debones pigeons with a whistle on his lips. On the great stoves, eight burners have been lit to simmer sauces, soups, and stews. The pastry chef, who seems as dusted with flour as one of his rolls, opens an oven door to withdraw two trays of brioches. And in the center of all this activity, with an eye on every assistant and a finger in every pot, stands Emile Zhukovsky, his chopping knife in hand.  
"If the kitchen of the Boyarsky is an orchestra and Emile its conductor, then his chopping knife is the baton. With a blade two inches wide at the base and ten inches long to the tip, it is rarely out of his hand and never far from reach. Though the kitchen is outfitted with paring knives, boning knives, carving knives, and cleavers, Emile can complete any of the various tasks for which those knives were designed with his ten-inch chopper. With it he can skin a rabbit. He can zest a lemon. He can peel and quarter a grape. He can use it to flip a pancake or stir a soup, and with the stabbing end he can measure out a teaspoon of sugar or a dash of salt. But most of all, he uses it for pointing." (p. 175). 

How did the author manage to create this historic ambience full of such vivid characters? Amor Towles' web page explains some of the matters that intrigued me. Above all: he imagined! "None of the novel’s central characters are based on historical figures, or on people that I have known," Towles states. I also wondered about the factual basis for the hotel.

Towles writes:

The dining room of the hotel from Amor Towles' website
"The Metropol is a real hotel which was built in the center of Moscow in 1905 and which is still welcoming guests today. Contrary to what you might expect, the hotel was a genuine oasis of liberty and luxury during the Soviet era despite being around the corner from the Kremlin and a few blocks from the head quarters of the secret police.
"Because the Metropol was one of the few fine hotels in Moscow at the time, almost anyone famous who visited the city either drank at, dined at, or slept at the Metropol. As a result, we have an array of firsthand accounts of life in the hotel from prominent Americans including John Steinbeck, e. e. cummings, and Lillian Hellman." (Amor Towles Q & A)

I've read one of this author's books before: The Rules of Civility (my review here). I found the historical reconstruction in that book less than perfectly convincing. I find the reconstructed situation in A Gentleman in Moscow much more convincing and compelling,

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Woody Allen's Robot Makes Pudding

Another classic film: "Sleeper." Woody's character Milo was cryogenically frozen in 1973 (around the time the film was made) and wakes up in a strange dystopia 200 years later. Chased by the cops of this totalitarian society he disguises himself as a domestic robot and imitates the behavior of the advanced technological humanoids that wait on the elite of the future.

Ordered to serve food and drinks from an automated kitchen, Milo-as-robot tries to make pudding for his boss -- that is, Diane Keaton's character Luna the rather dumb poet with a PhD in oral sex.

"Sleeper" is full of memorable lines and sight gags. I guess Woody Allen just couldn't resist putting in the clumsy cops being hit over the head with large bat-like things or the scene where Milo slips on the peel of a banana the size of "a canoe." The line that we have quoted over and over through the years is what Milo says when threatened with being mentally reprogrammed: "My brain! That's my second-favorite organ."

We were laughing out loud throughout the whole film. We're totally educating Miriam in the classics. No, "Citizen Kane" is not on our watch list.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Things to do at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Eat at Angelo's Diner, an Ann Arbor landmark.
Listen to Mr.B play his piano-on-wheels.
Meet Evelyn's friend at her Art Fair booth.

Eat pizza on the sidewalk on South University Ave.
Look at the artists' work.
This one paints food pics!

Buy African masks from Ibrahim, who comes to the Art Fair every year and rents commercial space.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"We'll Always Have Paris"

Just watched "Casablanca." Including the great line in this classic scene: "We'll always have Paris."
I've seen "Casablanca" quite a few times before this. Such a classic! Full of lines that people quote all the time. Of course the real line (maybe the most famous one of all) is just "Play it, Sam, play 'As Time Goes By.'" Not "Play it again, Sam." But also: "Round up the usual suspects." And: "I'm shocked, deeply shocked." Not to mention: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." Above all: "We'll always have Paris."
We just bought this Blu-Ray disc.

Paris haunts this film. I had forgotten how many Paris images there were in the flashbacks envisioned by Rick (Humphrey Bogart). It's painful to imagine how these scenes must have affected the audience at the time the film was released (1942), the moment when Paris was occupied, war was raging, and freedom was utterly threatened.

In the flashback, Rick recalls his few happy moments in Paris with Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Outside a cafe, newspaper headlines stated that Paris was an open city -- that is, undefended. From the room where Rick and Ilsa were meeting, they heard cannons -- the Germans were only 35 miles away, said Rick. Quickly tanks rolled into Paris, circling the Arc de Triomphe.

Ilsa agreed to meet Rick to escape on a train to Marsailles. He waited in a desperate crowd on the station platform in the rain. Sam (Dooley Wilson), the piano player, handed him a note: she wasn't going with him, would never see him again. And the flashback is over; the film returns to Rick's present life in Casablanca.

But almost at the end, when he gives her up so that she can stay with her husband the resistance fighter, Rick says "We'll always have Paris."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Very Experimental Food: a New Yorker Video

For the moment, this amusing video is available here: Watch An Experimental Feast. I don't know how long the New Yorker will keep it available. The video presents the experimentation of three collaborators:

  • A sculptor of unusual objects -- like spoons that feed several people at once.
  • A chef, David Kinch, who invented foods to eat with and on the inventions.
  • And a group of diners, who tried out the foods and tools.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Restaurants, Bars, Dives, and Cafes in "Midnight in Paris"

Almost at the beginning, Gil, the central character and his unlikeable fiancee dine in a fancy Paris restaurant in 2010.
His dream is of the 1920s, and mysteriously, he's quickly whisked off to the nightclub scene back then.
He meets Zelda & Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and many more.
He takes up with an obscure girlfriend of Picasso. Here they are in a nightclub.
Gil's trips to the past are always at night, often in clubs and bars. Lots of alcohol, not much to eat.
At a wine tasting in 2010. Gil's fiancee's friends are wine snobs and every other kind of snob.
Meeting Toulouse Lautrec in Montmartre, time travel to the Belle Epoque. Another era traveled to.
Gil thinks the 20s is the Golden Age, but the girl from the 20s thinks she's missed the best time. So on they go!
Maxim's famous restaurant in La Belle Epoque. 
Back to Paris, 2010. Everyone goes to Shakespeare and Company, now and ever since the 20s.
It's not what it used to be in the 20s, 60s, or 80s -- another age was always the Golden Age.
"Midnight in Paris" is a wonderful movie, full of the most iconic Paris scenes from several eras.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garlic Scapes

On the Grill... 2 minutes. Olive oil, lemon juice & zest, and a few tomatoes tossed with the grilled scapes. 

I had never tried these before, though I've seen them at markets. Other recipes say to stir fry them... maybe next year when they are in season I'll try one of those recipes. They do taste a little like asparagus and a lot like garlic, but mild.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bruno, Chief of Police Defeats More Evildoers

Martin Walker's new police thriller, The Templars' Last Secret, is the latest in his series about Bruno Courrèges, chief of police of the small imaginary town of St. Denis in the Périgord region of France. The plot is exciting, beginning with the mysterious death of an unknown woman at a private chateau with connections to the medieval Templars. The plot links to various aspects of the local tourist attraction, the famous prehistoric caves of Lascaux. Excitement comes from several violent confrontations with very dangerous terrorists. However, no spoilers here!

Bruno is a superhero. He's irresistible to the ladies (two of his former girlfriends play a role here, along with a new Dark Lady, though no love scenes this time); he's extremely brave (won the Croix du Guerre); he always connects the dots, no matter how obscure, to solve his case; he thinks fast and shoots straight when threatened; he can learn new things (in this book, the Dark Lady shows him the vast potential of Facebook and Twitter); he knows how to manage the higher-ups who send orders from Paris; he's a humanitarian who helps the kids and working people of his town; he loves his dog Balzac; and above all, he is a fantastic cook who avails himself of the fantastic regional produce of his region. Not to mention that he's a connoisseur of the regional wines.

A cave painting from Lascaux, much discussed in the novel.
-- Wikipedia
I'm not going to repeat what I said about this series of novels last summer when I read the 2016 book -- my post here: "Fatal Pursuit." Instead I'm going to give you a passage that shows how Bruno cooks and where he gets his materials. Sometimes I suspect the reality of the idyllic rural atmosphere of little St. Denis. It's the town every urban French person wishes to find, but not likely that it has survived into the twenty-first century.

The descriptions I picked deal with one meal that he prepared for friends. First, Bruno goes to market to buy the materials that he doesn't have on hand:
"The weekly market of St. Denis would soon be celebrating seven centuries since its foundation by royal charter, and as he gazed around the familiar stalls, Bruno wondered how different today’s wares might be from the offerings of those initial markets. Ducks and chickens, eggs and spices, fish, fruit and vegetables would have been sold just as they were today, he guessed, although there wouldn’t have been either tomatoes or potatoes in the centuries before Christopher Columbus set off to find the New World."  (p. 80).
Once at home -- after a bit more police business -- Bruno goes back and forth to the kitchen, preparing local and hand-picked ingredients and after the guests arrive, serving one incredible dish after another. The guests are continually discussing the various police matters that occupy them. Fortunately, they are also appreciative of his amazing culinary skill. The meal goes on for several pages, so I've left out quite a bit!
"Bruno took the cheese from his fridge, and from his freezer removed the stock for the fish soup, which he’d made with the discarded shells and heads of shrimp from an earlier meal. He peeled a half kilo of shallots from his garden and put them in a saucepan with a little butter. He did the same with a half kilo of button mushrooms he’d bought in the market. He cut the kilo of veal into cubes and put them into his largest saucepan, covered the meat with water and put it on to boil before peeling a medium-sized onion and pushing into it four cloves. He then jumped into the shower and changed into jeans and a sweater. He fed Balzac, put the frozen fish stock into the microwave to thaw and paused to consider. He planned fish soup, followed by blanquette de veau with rice, salad with cheese and pears poached in spiced wine for dessert. ...
"The veal was starting to boil, so he turned down the heat, skimmed off the surface fat and then dropped in a chopped carrot, a rib of celery, the onion with its cloves and one of the bouquets garnis he made every few days. ...
"He checked his watch. Usually he would simmer the meat for as much as two hours to get it really tender, but this was Oudinot’s veal, the best in the valley, from milk-fed calves raised with their mothers. The meat would be deliciously tender anyway, and his guests would be arriving within the next fifteen minutes. ...
"Finally from the freezer he took the vacuum bag with the last of the basil he’d picked last autumn. And when he saw Balzac’s ears twitch and the dog move to the door, Bruno knew his guests were about to arrive. Balzac always heard the sound of an engine coming up the road a good half minute before his master. He opened the door so that Balzac could bound out and give the arrivals his usual noisy welcome. Before he followed Balzac, Bruno added another glass of white wine to the fish soup, tasted it and smiled to himself. It was good. ...
"Once inside, the guests settled in his sitting room with glasses of champagne. Bruno excused himself and went into the kitchen to check on the food. He added some lemon juice to the fish ... . He opened a can of his own venison pâté....
"Bruno poured out the rest of the champagne, invited them to move to the table and went back to the kitchen to check the seasoning and toss some chopped parsley onto the fish soup. He opened the white wine and took it to the table, then brought in the tureen....
"He gathered up the bowls and went to the kitchen, stacking them in the sink and turning on the hot water. Then he tasted the veal and nodded; it was time to make the blanquette. He drained the sauce from the meat over a measuring cup and put the meat aside, removing the bouquet garni and the carrot and celery. He poured the sauce into a separate large saucepan and left it over a low flame. ... Slowly, making sure the flour was fully absorbed, he added four tablespoons and then began to pour in the juice from the veal, continuing to whisk to ensure it was fully blended. He turned up the heat and brought it to a simmer, still stirring until it began to thicken. Then he added the veal, ... 
"Quickly, he peeled the fat pears he had bought, put them into a saucepan and poured in red wine until they were just covered. He added two cloves, some cinnamon and some grated nutmeg. Finally, he poured in half a glass of his own vin de noix and left it simmering. ...
"'There may be one more treat in store for us all this evening,' Bruno said, bringing in the dessert, adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a splash of cognac to his poached pears." (pp. 109-117)
Update July 25: The New York Times has an article titled "The Delicious World of Bruno, Chief of Police" -- including a slide show of where author Martin Walker lives in Perigord.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

How Times Change

Recently, I was listening to some Woody Guthrie songs sung by Cisco Houston, and thinking about how our view of taming nature has changed over time. I'm not going to comment about the details: the point seems obvious in these, the final verses from "Grand Coulee Dam," which Guthrie wrote in 1941:

At Bonneville on the river
there's a green and beautiful sight,
See the Bonneville Dam a-rising
in the sun so clear and white,
While the leaping salmon play along 
the ladder and the rocks,
There's a steamboat load of gasoline
a-whistling in the locks.

Uncle Sam took up the challenge
in the year of 'thirty-three,
For the farmer and the factory
and for all of you and me,
He said, "Roll along, Columbia,
you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you're rolling,
you can do a little work for me."

Now in Oregon and Washington
you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese
and light aluminum,
When you see that flying fortress
wing her way across the land,
Spawned upon the King Columbia
by the big Grand Coulee Dam.

A 1940s post card of the Bonneville Dam. (For a complete summary
of the history of the dam, see this website: source)
Guthrie wrote quite a few songs about the Coulee Dam project -- hired and paid by the Bonneville Power Administration, builder of the dam. Last year for the seventy-fifth anniversary of these songs, the BPA sponsored a celebration.

From the BPA website:
"During his month of employment in the spring of 1941, Guthrie traveled across Oregon and Washington and visited towns, farms, Native American locales and the construction site of Grand Coulee Dam in northeast Washington. Inspired by the people he met and his own observations and experiences, Guthrie wrote a collection of songs about the Columbia River and the benefits new federal hydroelectric dams would bring to the people of the Northwest." 
Here are verses from "Roll on, Columbia," another of the 26 songs which he wrote for them:

At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks
The waters have risen and cleared all the rocks
Shiploads of plenty will steam past the docks
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

And on up the river is Grand Coulee Dam
The mightiest thing ever built by a man
To run the great factories and water the land
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

These mighty men labored by day and by night
Matching their strength 'gainst the river's wild flight
Through rapids and falls, they won the hard fight
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Another postcard view of the dam, also from the 1940s.
An NPR story about Guthrie's Columbia River songs summarizes the point of view during the time he wrote them: "Guthrie's songs echoed this optimistic period in the West. Few were thinking of the salmon the dams would sacrifice. Instead, it was all about harnessing nature's power to help people."

While the song lyrics praised the technology of man harnessing the river, Guthrie himself was an embarrassment to the government agency that had hired him. During the anti-communist witch hunts of post-World-War-II era, the BPA destroyed much of the evidence that they had hired Guthrie and paid him $266.66 for his 30 days of work -- including a documentary film with Guthrie singing his songs. However, in the 1980s, a BPA employee retrieved some of the material, described in another post on their website here.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Curious George Escapes from Wartorn Paris

Curious George is one of many beloved characters who inhabit children's books and children's imaginations. Curious George may not have actually visited Paris as part of his delightful adventures. However, the author H.A. Rey and his wife had a very real and dangerous Paris adventure: escaping from the German invasion of Paris in May through August, 1940. As they fled for their lives, they carried an early draft of the first Curious George book with them. They were fortunate, as their escape was successful, and they eventually came to the US where they published a number of successful children's books.

The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden describes the history of their lives in language that children could understand. Both of the Reys were German Jews, who had already fled from Germany and the Nazi persecutions. Unfortunately, they were in Paris when the German armies marched in. They managed to obtain needed papers, cash, and bicycles for the journey. They traveled through France by bicycle and by train, managed to cross the Spanish border, and then took a ship across the Atlantic. The book tells this story in detail, with illustrations from the archives of H.A. Rey and additional illustrations by Allan Drummond.

The house in Paris where the Reys were living.
H.A. Rey managed to acquire bicycle parts and make two bicycles for their escape.
For the summer blog event "Paris in July" I am reviewing visits to Paris by some well-known characters in children's books. This is no doubt the most surprising Paris connection of any such character, I would say! To see what Parisian adventures and locals the other bloggers are exploring, check the blog Thyme For Tea where Tamara, a lover of Paris who lives in Australia, is hosting this event.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

On the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July: chips, salsa, hot dogs, potato salad, broccoli salad, white wine, s'mores, fireworks. 

Nat, Len, Carol.

Broccoli salad: broccoli, black olives, bell peppers, scallions, egg, lemon vinaigrette. Carol's Salad Olivier. 

In our nearby Burns Park, there's usually a celebration: bring-your-own-fireworks.
We didn't bring any, but enjoyed the show.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

Fireworks, July 4, 2012, Santa Barbara Harbor

Monday, July 03, 2017

A story of Modern French Chocolate and its Inventors

"Chocolate taste ... beginning in the 1980s took its substance from the nouvelle cuisine then dominant in the French culinary establishment. ... The new chocolate cuisine mandated fresh natural ingredients, novel but simplified flavorings, and healthy, dark chocolates with less sugar.  ... Connoisseurs now insist that choice French candies be made from fresh regional products such as chocolate from the best cacao growths, butter from Charente, cream from Normandy...; that they incorporate exotic flavorings and foodstuffs of distant locales such as citrus fruits, coffee, tea, spices, and even chocolate itself." (Terrio, pp. 57-58)

Crafting the Culture and History of French Chocolate by Susan J. Terrio is a scholarly study of artisan chocolate makers in France in the 1990s. Under the leadership of Robert Linxe (1929-2014), new flavors of artisanal chocolate had been popularized in France in competition with growing industrial production. In particular, French taste in chocolate evolved to prefer dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, and to favor more exotic spices and fillings. In 1977, Linxe founded the Paris chocolate shop La Maison du Chocolate, which subsequently opened boutiques in Paris, New York, London, and other world capitals, and was thus the most successful of the French artisan chocolate houses.

The people in Terrio's study were owners of small but successful chocolate-making shops in towns on the Basque coast of France. These craftsmen/owners were aware of Linxe and his success -- in fact, his native town was in their region. However, they also had their own particular challenges dealing with local customers and with the large number of tourist customers who spent summers there. In each shop, the craftsman/owner hand-formed chocolate candies in a workshop adjacent to the sales area, where the wives managed presentation of the products and interacted with customers. It was impossible for an independent chocolate shop to succeed if both husband and wife were not dedicated to their expected roles.

The author systematically describes the details of these shop owners' history and education, their social position, their family life,  and the succession of ownership and craftsmanship from one generation to the next. For any reader interested in French society and its class structure, educational institutions, and priorities, this book offers fascinating insights.

Collective efforts at development of craft and professional standards were a major goal of some of the chocolate craftsmen, particularly their efforts to create guild-like organizations. The author describes the interaction between the craftsmen and government regulators, as well as a few memories of the way that chocolate makers dealt with the hardships of World War II. The history of chocolate in the region dates back to the introduction of chocolate to France several hundred years earlier by Jews fleeing from Spain; some time later, guilds (in which membership was open only to Christians) forced the Jews out of the trade. Terrio shows how this part of history has been revised interestingly to match contemporary needs for a useful origin myth. (pp. 72-79)

One of the most interesting elements of the history is how these chocolate makers have very recently redefined their craft. In particular, French choices in chocolate types developed quite a bit in the last quarter of the twentieth century -- the era of concentration of this book. The development of these tastes helped artisan chocolate makers compete with growing pressure from mass-produced chocolates that looked the same but were not made with the same craftsmanship. I was especially fascinated by the way that taste tests often disclosed that many people really preferred sweeter milk chocolate, but that the taste makers essentially imposed the theoretically more refined taste for dark chocolate and exotic flavors.

Although Crafting the Culture and History of French Chocolate is written in a very academic style, with much social science jargon, I nevertheless found it readable and often remarkably interesting. I am very curious about the subsequent history of artisanal chocolate in France since the book was published in 2000. The author appears to have moved on to study other aspects of French culture, and not to have followed up with the subjects of her book.

In my own travels, I tend to concentrate on pastry shops more than on candy shops, though I have very fond memories of at least one chocolate shop in Lyons and one in Paris. The screen shot from a google search for "Bayonne France Chocolatiers" suggests that chocolate makers there still offer some very tempting candy.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Visiting Paris in my Imagination

"Paris in July" starts this week: a blogging event that I have often enjoyed. My most recent trip to Paris was a little over a year ago, and I love to imagine going back Paris, so I'm definitely looking forward to the posts that other bloggers share. This event is sponsored by Tamara who blogs at Thyme For Tea -- her first post is "Paris in July -- Officially Starts!"

As I began imagining a visit to Paris, I recalled how the central characters of several children's books enjoyed some time in the City of Light. Obviously, the first character that comes to mind is little Madeline, creation of writer/illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans. Madeline made her debut in 1939.

Madeline indeed may be the most famous fictional child in an English-language book about Paris.
In one of Madeline's TV adventures she climbed the Eiffel Tower -- and as always got into mischief.
Miss Clavel, head of Madeline's school in Paris, also accompanied her charges on the Paris Metro.
Eloise, another fictional child, was mostly known for her life in the Plaza Hotel
in New York. However, she did make a visit to Paris as well in this sequel.
Hilary Knight, the illustrator of the Eloise books, is now 90 years old, and very active -- subject of a big exhibit documented here: "Remarkable. Extraordinary. Eccentric: The Man Who Drew Eloise Recalls His Muses." I have lots of memories of Eloise. She was very popular when I was younger, though I don't think she's completely forgotten yet. I bought a copy of this book for this month's blog event, so I may have more to say about it later.

Babar the Elephant gave some advice about Paris to his daughter who  was planning
a visit. I'll be back with more about Babar in Paris. The Babar books were originally
written in French by Jean de Brunhoff and his son Laurent de Brunhoff. 
A few years ago, in a TV series, Paddington Bear visited Paris where he participated in the Tour de France.
Here's Paddington with his loaf of French bread -- probably the most characteristic of French foods!
This TV series seems to have gone beyond most of the Paddington adventures, which in the books take place in London.
Sadly, Paddington's creator, Michael Bond, died this week -- his NPR Obituary is HERE.
I suspect that many other well-loved children's characters have visited Paris, but for now, that's my first contribution to Paris in July. No idea what I might do later!

Note: all screen shots are from YOUTUBE.