Dec 22, 2013

Paris, A Book Report: Bethia Blue de Brebis Basque


Even though the girls are reading "chapter books" now, there's still room for breaking out a picture books for a quick bedtime story. They've heard it a million times, and it's really too "babyish" for them, but the girls still love to hear Madeline. What's the draw? Well, it's the drawings. The pictures mean so much more to them now. The words on each page take about two seconds, but we analyze each illustration. Have we been there? Have we seen that angle? How does it look different today?


We can play the same game with Eloise in Paris, and Téa Stilton: Mystère à Paris (Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris, but we have the French version), and any other illustrated books set here.

Drawing vs. Photograph, Fact vs. Fiction, Then vs. Now: I can come up with the following guide without even having to break out my camera, because all of these are photos already in my existing files:

Notre Dame (Madeline):

Jardin de Luxembourg (Madeline):

Les Invalides (Madeline):

Sacré Coeur (Madeline):

Pont Alexandre III (Eloise in Paris):

Arc de Triomphe (Eloise in Paris):

On the subject, my friend Sue sent me this T-shirt which is both à propos and très chic. It's Madeline at the Arc de Triomphe.

Tour Montparnasse (never heard anybody call it the Tour Maine-Montparnasse, whether that's its official name or not, from Téa Stilton: Mystère à Paris -- part of the Geronimo Stilton series):

Le Grand Escalier (the Great Staircase) at l'Opéra (Téa Stilton: Mystère à Paris):

And, of course, each book has its own views of the Eiffel Tower, such as this one with fireworks and balcony view (Eloise in Paris):

Eiffel Tower as seen from across the Seine, at night (Téa Stilton: Mystère à Paris)

THE CHEESE: Bethia Blue de Brebis Basque
Sometimes also called Fromage Blue de Brebis Bethia, this blue cheese is a rare blue from Basque country. It's a relatively new cheese, invented and produced by one  farm: la Ferme Béthanoun, who produces this blue-veined beautiful log from raw sheep's milk.
The edges are a little too tough to eat, but the inside is somewhere between crumbly and creamy, with a middle-of-the-road strength blue. That is to say, if you love super-strong blues, you'll find it mellow but not bland. And if you find blues too strong, this will still be too strong for you.
A random sample of a page in the Geronimo Stilton series:
I was tempted to go with something that looked like the stereotypical cheese mentioned in a children's book -- the allusions to and illustrations of Emmental, perhaps, or something piled mile high like a Brillat-Savarin. But in the end, the temptation to go with a blue in honor of Geronimo Stilton (who is of course named after a blue cheese) was just too irresistible. Also, Bethia Blue de Brebis Basque has such fabulous alliteration and is so much fun to say, it sounds like a character in a children's book.


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