Oct 16, 2018

Embracing the Fog: Tome du Ségala


Having tasted somewhere around 700-800 French cheeses by this point, it's tempting to be snarky about attending the annual San Francisco Cheesefest. It's not France, after all. And at this point, I'm pretty hard to impress. But I have to admit that I am impressed by a couple of the cheeses and, even more, by the sincerity and passion evident everywhere.

Aug 22, 2018

South of the Border: Abbaye de Belloc


As you approach the Belgian border, you'll notice a certain Belge-ifying of the architecture and even the language. In Alsace and Lorraine, as you approach the German border, you'll notice not just the change in architecture, building colors, and names of towns but also how Germanic the food becomes. But head down to the Spanish border and it's as if France comes to a dead end, with nothing south of the border.

Aug 8, 2018

Saumur is Set in Stone: Lochois


Saumur, a small city out past the Loire Valley in the department of Maine-et-Loire in the region of Pays de la Loire, is famous for several things: One is the beautiful reflection of the city over the Loire River. Another is the history -- and there's a lot of it. And you can't hear about Saumur without hearing about tuffeau (also sometimes spelled tufeau) or limestone.

Jul 25, 2018

Temple of Reason: Tomme de Chartreux


In today's episode of "things in history you never heard of before," I bring to you the Temple of Reason, which was the place of "worship" in the Cult of Reason, which was supposed to replace Christianity (and organized religion in general) in France in the 18th century. You've probably never heard of the Cult of Reason, but you've certainly heard of the most famous Temple of Reason...

Jul 11, 2018

The Big Cheese: La Grosse Tomme


This is a story of big cheeses, not just one but five: two big cheeses that are actually cheeses, and three big cheeses that are "merely" generals, presidents, and founding fathers. And they're all related and tied in to this time of year, July, which is the month both France and the United States celebrate their revolutions.

Jun 27, 2018

Lolita Complex -- Not So Complex: Tomme du Fédou


You've probably got the wrong idea about sex in France. The truth of the matter is less, well, sexy than what you imagine. That is to say, it's not all wild abandon and mistresses and promiscuity, no matter how much the movies and jokes -- and occasional politicians -- embody that. I'm not sure whether this proves or disproves my point, but the French even have a new law, introducing for the first time in the country's history a legal age of sexual consent.

Jun 12, 2018

Of Corset: La Miche Gavotte


The tortured history of French dresses is, let's face it, mostly tortured because of the corset. However, it's also partly due to the paniers -- those enormous hips created under the ball gowns -- as well as the bustles behind. And yet, no matter how god-awful they must have been to wear, my girls and I continue to fantasize about them, and "ooh" and "aah" each time we see one.

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