May 7, 2014

Pop-up Theater: Joséphine


If you're in San Francisco or New York or are simply an impossible hipster, you know about pop-up restaurants -- those fleeting eateries (fleeteries?) that pop up temporarily, in random places, just one step ahead of the law. Or, at least, the health inspectors and licensing bodies.

Well, now I bring you pop-up theater. For one afternoon, my apartment is home to a performance in which a wonderful Italian woman reads (in English) the love letters of Napoléon to his great love, Joséphine, against the backdrop of classical music.

Despite the fact that Napoléon loved Joséphine and made her Empress in 1804, when he had himself crowned Emperor, Napoléon said, "I am not a man like others and moral laws or the laws that govern conventional behavior do not apply to me. My mistresses do not in the least engage my feelings. Power is my mistress."

In 1809, he divorced her, after she was unable to bear his children (she had two from a previous marriage, and he subsequently had two with two mistresses).

THE CHEESE: Joséphine

Like the cheese Napoléon, Joséphine is a hard sheep's cheese from Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, in the Midi-Pyrénées, in the department of Haute-Garonne. Southern French Pyrénées are the country's heartland of sheep. And, therefore, the sheep's cheeses here are some of the finest.

It's a crumbly, dry sheep's cheese -- not too salty or strong. For a hard cheese, Napoléon is on the creamier and milder side. While Joséphine is not gamey or overly strong, by any measure, it still packs a little more punch. This is ironic, given that Josephine was reputed to be gentle, while Napoléon was anything but.


When I decide to write this story, I am originally so frustrated because I have already used the cheese Napoléon. So imagine my delight when I discover that the producers of that small-batch artisanal cheese make a sister cheese called Joséphine. But of course!


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