Dec 7, 2017

Laughing yellow: Tomme du Pic de la Calabasse


Given the news and the state of the world, I think it's high time you learn the expression "rire jaune" which means, literally, "to laugh yellow." It's used to describe a forced, hollow laugh, the kind where you're laughing on the outside while crying on the inside. That laugh we do when watching the talk show hosts joke about current events, because they're funny, but it's rather tragic at the same time.

Nov 29, 2017

A Sporting Chance: Galet de Bigorre


I would need to take a big breath to rattle off the list of the things I would do to improve French schools, if it were up to me. But one thing I think the French do absolutely right is the sports class. Starting in primary school and all the way up till high school graduation, they have physical education classes for the kids. Not only do they devote a significant amount of time to this (a couple hours per week or so, depending on the age), they take the opportunity to expose the kids to an incredibly wide variety of activities.

Nov 1, 2017

Ye Olde Shoppe: Délice du Bocain


In a little town in central France called Doué-la-Fontaine sits the Musée aux Anciens Commerces, which is roughly the Museum of Old-Time Stores, ranging from 1850-1950. Naturally, because this is France, the museum itself, which has been open since 1992, is housed in an old-timey building -- 18th century horse stables from the Château des Basses Minières, a castle that no longer exists, except for some basement/foundations.

Oct 25, 2017

Butter Fly: Metsi


Watch the butter fly off the shelves: It's the worst butter shortage in France since World War II. For the past couple weeks, the butter shelves at supermarkets throughout the country have been getting emptier and emptier. And the emptying process seems to be speeding up as people start to stockpile butter in their freezers. After all, Christmas isn't that far away.

Sep 29, 2017

More Than I Bargained For: Le Chèvre Fleur


I ask the woman at the counter for a little of this chocolate, a little of that, some milk with caramelized almonds, some dark with raspberry. It costs 5.5 (about $6) per 100g. When she is holding a few pieces, I ask her, "Is that 100g?" She makes a face and shakes her head in a gesture that means clearly and emphatically "Non!"

Sep 22, 2017

Social Climbers: Fontiennois


When Pippa sits next to one of France's top gymnasts, she's excited to meet one of the best in the country. When Anthony climbs next to some of France's top rock climbers (the women's and men's national teams have worked out at his climbing gym), he's excited to be climbing near some of the best in the world. This is one of the few areas where the French really excel on the world stage.

Sep 15, 2017

That Old Chestnut: Vache de Chalais


It's that time of year again -- for chestnuts, roasting on an open shopping cart. It's also the time of year for marrons confits or marrons glacés, both of which are ways of saying candied chestnuts. They're very sweet (very), very festive, and very French.

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