Nov 28, 2018

Maltese Days & Knights: Pecura Corsa


"Napoleon Bonaparte slept here" may not be the most unique thing a Mediterranean port of call could claim, but at least it's a small claim to French heritage. Such is the case for Malta, the tiny nation of three islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) at a very strategic spot in the Mediterranean -- between the northern tip of Africa and Italy, basically standing guard at the narrowest point between the eastern and western halves of the sea. Napoleon's forces occupied the small nation for two years, and since then it's mostly been under British rule/protection or, more recently, independent, but some of the effects of that two-year occupation can still be seen.

Nov 13, 2018

Angélique -- Lover and Fighter: Saint Angel


My French friend is about as shocked to learn that I've never heard of Angélique, Marquise des Anges, as I would be if she told me she'd never heard of The Sound of Music (which she has) or The Brady Bunch (which she hasn't). You grow up thinking certain cultural references are universal, then realize that's only true within your own, limited universe. But if you were alive in the '60s and '70s (and pretty much since then, too) in France, then you're part of the universe that knows about this classic TV movie-series.

photo from: https://actu.orange.fr/societe/people/article-5-secrets-sur-la-saga-angelique-marquise-des-anges-CNT000000zPpje.html

Oct 31, 2018

Good Things Come to an End (But Not This Blog): Tomme de Corrèze


Is it true that all good things must eventually go the way of the bidet, the beret, and the street-corner mime? Not everything, but certainly, there seem to be a lot of sad endings in France recently.

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...

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