Friday, November 30, 2018

My Kitchen in November

Here's my kitchen wrap-up for a month when I was mostly preparing to go to Paris or winding down from the trip. You might think I would go to the famous Paris culinary shops, cookbook stores, or food stores and bring stuff back, but this was a no-stuff trip except for two magnets. (Yes, the customs agent gave me a funny look when he asked what I had brought back and I said "two magnets.")

Most of November when at home, I was cooking only basics. I'm working on getting some new spices, so maybe I'll have more to say next month!

One new appliance purchased early in November: a popcorn popper.
We had one in the past but it kind of fell apart. Interesting discovery:
if you spray a little water on the hot popcorn the salt sticks to it better.
Winter fruit and "gold" coins waiting for Chanukah, which starts on Sunday!
Refrigerator decor: post cards from our visit to Alert Bay, B.C. in October. The 2 new magnets from the Centre Pompidou
in Paris: an image of the ultramodern building, and a Chagall image. The magnetic clips are new too.
Magnet close-up. The Chagall wasn't on view, but we love it so I got the magnet.
The painting of a bride & groom was meaningful because our wedding
was in France at the time when a postage stamp with the image was current.
The Chagall was one of a beautiful series of
stamps with works of art from major French museums.
We sent many letters home with this stamp!
"The Kitchen Table" by André Derain (1925). In the Museée de l'Orangerie. A kitchen in Paris! 
All things considered -- it's fun to eat every meal out for a week.
Especially in Paris!
For more kitchens and kitchen news from many other bloggers, see the blog event "In My Kitchen" at Sherry's blog: I suspect that most of the other bloggers will have much more new stuff than I do!

Last -- a boring photo of my new non-stick frying pans, replacing the
semi-worn-out former ones. We also have some new dish brushes,
even more boring!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Airplane Reading: A Detective Story about Iceland

"Flóvent and Thorson took a table at a restaurant on Hafnarstræti called Hot and Cold. The place had opened after the outbreak of war and was popular with servicemen. It sold fish and chips alongside traditional Icelandic dishes such as breaded lamb chops, rhubarb pudding, and skyr with cream, which proved a hit with the soldiers. The worst of the crush was over by the time the two men arrived and the owner, a short, curly-haired man in shoes with noticeably built-up heels, was busy clearing the tables. As they tucked into their salt cod with boiled potatoes and dripping they fell to discussing Frank Ruddy." (The Shadow District, p. 89)
Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason has written several police procedurals featuring the two detectives named Flóvent and Thorson. I can't recall how I heard of this series, but I read the first of them, The Shadow District, on the plane on the way back from Paris. It was just right for a 7-hour trip!

The novel takes place in modern-day Iceland where a retired police detective, trying to solve the murder of a 90-year-old man, is forced to return to an unsolved murder from the time of World War II, when large numbers of British and American soldiers were stationed in Iceland for various military purposes. The social history of the interactions between the foreign soldiers and the local Icelandic residents is portrayed in a most interesting way!  I hope this cultural background is well-researched as I really have no way to judge.

The suspense in both past and present works very well and the characters are likable and convincing. As always, I appreciated the descriptions of food from the days when Iceland was little influenced by outsiders. Reading this book on an airplane made me recall my first ever plane trip many years ago, when I traveled from my home in St. Louis to France. At the time, you could get very cheap flights on Icelandic Air, which flew all its planes through Reykjavik. It was not a bad flight, but the Reykjavik terminal was under construction so the airline took us on a bus to a location away from the airport, and gave us a meal which I think included baked cod and unfamiliar vegetables. I found this meal strange, and couldn't eat it. The stewardess seemed to disapprove of my waste of food. When I arrived in France, however, the food didn't seem at all strange -- I thought it was wonderful!

In The Shadow District, there's also occasional detail about food of the present day and what people might have eaten. For example, the detective wants to know about the murdered man:
"The last meal the man had cooked himself was porridge. That was easy – he hadn’t washed up the pan. And he had eaten liver sausage with the porridge. The other half of the sausage was in the fridge, and the bowl in the sink contained traces of this meal. Judging by the contents of the fridge, he had subsisted largely on traditional Icelandic fare. The bread bin contained flatbread and a loaf of rye that was going mouldy. There wasn’t much in the kitchen cupboards, just a few plates and cups." (p. 38). 
Similar fare shows up in the story from the 1940s -- about a man taken prisoner as a suspect in the earlier murder case: "He had little appetite and hardly touched his breakfast of porridge served with two slices of liver sausage and a glass of milk." (p. 228).

It's likely that I'll read more of the books by author Arnaldur Indridason, as I enjoyed the way he depicts a fairly standard mystery tale in a rather exotic setting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Better Scrambled Eggs: Inspired by Paris

Inspired by a week of dining out in Paris, and a bit down from the first day back when we were eating stuff from the pantry and freezer -- we decided to try a new French recipe today for lunch. It's called Brouillade of Mushrooms. We associate the dish with author Martin Walker's fictitious detective and amateur chef Bruno, whose native Perigord offers him delicious specialties. Bruno, we think, makes this dish with truffles, not mushrooms, but we have no truffles at the moment (or ever, if you really want to know). We didn't actually eat anything like it in Paris, but just chose it as a nice French recipe.

Served as suggested: scrambled eggs topped with parmesan and sliced mushrooms
with a slice of buttered toast.
The ingredients: mushrooms (some chopped, some sliced), garlic, parsley,
grated parmesan, eggs, milk, butter, oil, salt, and pepper.
Actually, brouillade is the French name for scrambled eggs, though some recipes have you cook the egg mixture very slowly to make it more like a custard. A nice new word for Wordy Wednesday! It's actually a very simple recipe, and doesn't require anything unusual: I had all the ingredients on hand except cream, so I used milk instead. Here's the recipe source that I used: "Brouillade of Mushrooms or the best scrambled eggs you'll ever eat."

All photos and text copyright 2018 by Mae E. Sander. Published at maefood dot blogspot dot com. If you read this elsewhere, it has been stolen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Primitive Art and Cubism

At the beginning of the exhibit "Cubism" currently at the Centre Pompidou is a display of primitive art objects that once belonged to the artists. Documentation throughout the exhibit pointed out how these objects influenced Picasso and his fellow cubists to see new ways to depict faces and other objects. Various displays of African art, mainly from the French colonial possessions of the early 20th century, awakened the interest of Picasso and others in his circle of artists.
Picasso's 1910 portrait of art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler includes a sketchy
African mask in the top area. African and primitive art was an influence on the cubists.
Kahnweiler and other dealers sold African masks as well as the work of the cubists.
Picasso's famous portrait of Gertrude Stein (1905) showed
the influence of African masks in the delineation of her features.
Visiting the other galleries of the museum last Saturday, we saw several primitive sculptures that were similarly influenced.
This is a 1912 sculpture by Modigliani, who exhibited with the cubists before developing his unique style of painting.

A work by Brancusi that shows this influence.
An African mask displayed at the Musée de l'Orangerie also relates to
the Picasso works and others on display there in the collection of dealer
Paul Guillaume, who sold African art as well as the works of the cubists.
At  l'Orangerie.  
At  l'Orangerie. 
The studio of André Breton (1896-1966) is now reconstructed in the Musée d'Orsay. Breton was a founder of the Surrealist movement,
and his appreciation of works from many primitive cultures is one of the defining features (in my opinion) of
many movements in modern art, beginning a few years before he became active in the 1920s.
Breton collected primitive work from many cultures throughout the world.
I wrote about Breton's ownership of a mask from the native people of
Alert Bay, B.C. when we visited there recently.  See the historic note
at the end of this post: "Alert Bay..." for details.
Two temporary art exhibits and one permanent collection that we visited in Paris last week featured the work of Picasso and his contemporaries, and also included some of the primitive art:
  • "Picasso. Blue and Rose" at the Musée d'Orsay, September 18, 2018-January 6, 2019 included a very large number of the painter's early paintings and sculptures from collections all over the world. It was fascinating to see such a young man emerge with so many incredible creative ideas, and to think that after the impressive accomplishment of this era he still would be a leader for another 70 years!
  • "Le Cubisme" at the Centre Pompidou, October 17, 2018-February 25-2019, presented a large number of works by the major and minor cubists, especially Picasso. Essentially this exhibit started at the moment when the Orsay exhibit left off, and showed Picasso's next period of creative life. We also viewed the permanent collections which include related works.
  • The Jean Walter-Paul Guillaume Collection at the Musée de l'Orangerie includes works by Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Sisley, Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Marie Laurencin, Douanier Rousseau, Derain, Utrillo, Soutine and Van Dongen. Paul Guillaume (1891-1934), an art dealer in Paris from 1914 until his death, was the originator of this collection, which was donated by his wife and her second husband, whom she married after his death. The collection includes examples of African art, which he introduced to the cubists and other moderns.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Art Appreciation

Musée du Cluny

The perfect shirt for going to an art museum.
Throughout the past week's visit, and on many past trips to Paris, I have been interested in the way that my fellow museum-goers reacted to the art and to the environment of museums. In the last few years, the popularity of selfies has affected many art spaces, to the extent that at times half the people in a crowd seem to have their backs to the famous paintings or sculptures. Also, people following a guide often seem to me to be paying less attention to the actual works of art than people alone.

This tall thin guide seemed perfect for explaining tall thin Gothic sculptures!

The famous Unicorn Tapestries in a special darkish room. Almost religious!

The Centre Pompidou: Museum of Modern Art

At the major museums there's always a line. When we arrived, the line at the Pompidou went all the way across the
plaza in front of the museum, and it continued to be a similar length whenever we looked down from the height of the building. The line at the Musée d'Orsay was much longer and slower.

You ride up the "naked mole rat" tubes to get to the exposition space.

The Musee d'Orsay

The expo on Picasso was fabulous and VERY crowded.

The Orangerie: Home of the giant Monet Water Lillies

The Louvre: Biggest selfie opportunity of all!

Sometimes it's hard to see the Mona Lisa behind the crowd. She's way back there! 
The Venus de Milo.

The name of this sculpture: "Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss." I wonder what the children were learning.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

We're Not in Paris Any More

No more Eiffel Tower! Our flight arrived early and we're home.
But there will be more posts about Paris.
This painting from the Centre Pompidou is by Robert Delaunay.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Is Paris Burning? Yes.

From the top floor of the Centre Pompidou museum of modern art, we could see smoke from the fires on the Champs Elysée.
A reported 8,000* demonstrators were protesting because the carbon tax has raised the price of gasoline and heating fuel.
Fortunately, our planned visit to the museum was in a different part of the city, and we avoided the affected areas.
As we walked to the metro after our museum visit, we did see the demonstrators.
The demonstrators call themselves "gilets jaunes"
because they wear yellow vests as seen in the photo.
We have had a wonderful visit to Paris. If all goes as planned (and there are no demonstrators between the hotel and the airport) we'll be home tomorrow night. I'll have a number of additional blog posts about the art and sightseeing we have done this week!

* Correction to originally stated number of demonstrators. On Saturday 8,000 demonstrated in Paris altogether. In all France, according to Le Monde, 106,000 people participated in the actions. A week earlier the numbers were much larger.

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Few Good Things to Eat In Paris

My favorite pastry: the tarte au citron. This was a particularly good version served in a small restaurant near Place Jussieu.
Breakfast: a croissant.
Soup with gambas (shirmp), coconut milk, and vegetables. First course
before the tarte au citron.
Classic onion soup with melted cheese on top! We ate this at a randomly
selected restaurant just off the Champs Elysée.
The most wonderful food, but the photos are dark! Shown here:
marvelous lamb chops. We really enjoyed the restaurant La Cette.
Absolutely fantastic fois gras with fruit, also at La Cette.
My main course at La Cette: roast pigeon. Amazing!
Another classic: blanquette de veau, served in a casserole, but I spooned it onto
my plate with rice. At restaurant L'Opportune, a Lyonnaise "bouchon."
Another classic at L'Opportune: quenelles de brochet.
Charcutrie with pommes a l'huile (potato salad).