An Extraordinary Day

First upon arriving in West Chester, I found a parking spot near La Baguette. I had an excellent coffee and a brioche and a quiche. Catherine la Boulangere came over and we talked as we were leading double lives, as if there was an echo in our stories so much alike they were! We parted, promising to meet again.

I walked over to the Acorn Cottage, an elegant shop recommended to me by a friend of mine. I walked into the world of my grandfather’s furniture and the eclectic taste of my apartment. I met a beautiful charming lady called Zena from Lithuania and we were transported through our similar experiences in a magic world of sharing and feeling close. She has beautiful slippers like tapestry samplers from the Chateaux of the Loire Valley, as if La Princesse de Cleves had walked in the night into her store and dropped her slippers as well her Dames de Companie.

I left feeling so rich in my heart and smiled. I came out of the door and a man noticed my earrings so I told him the story of my rickshaw earrings in honor of the children of Cambodia. He and his wife love food so we promised to meet again and off I went, quickly back to La Baguette Magique to buy a pear almond tart to have before I go to a champagne tasting, to satisfy my stomach.

I drove for about an hour to J. Maki Winery in Elverson, Pa. I had some difficulty finding the place but finally here I was in the tasting room when Janet, the owner, came up to me and started bringing different bottles of wine and Champagne. I enjoyed the Viognier 2008, I enjoyed very much the Blanc de Blancs 2003. Again we talked and talked about my change of career, though I very seldom use this word. I think more of a continuity and growth. We promised to meet again!

To show my gratitude for such an amazing rewarding day, I went to a fundraising party for a gentleman who used to do my hair many years ago, though I had not been there for years. He has terminal cancer and the bills are so enormous that his friends and customers put a big party together to raise money to help him out.

I heard about the party in a strange, sad, and indirect way. I was bothered by the fact that we were thinking of the French situation and the people in France but were not thinking of the people who lost their loved ones in Lebanon or Russia. I paid my respects to Russian friends of mine and I was trying to remember whom I knew who was Lebanese.

Suddenly I remembered my Lebanese hairdresser, who is not the one who is sick, but someone who worked with him. When I went to the hair salon, my Lebanese friend told me about the party for this sick gentleman (whom I will call R.)

So I finished my day at a party in South Philly with hundreds of people dancing and singing. R. was amazed and looking very different, smiled at me and was glad to see me. I ate macaroni salad and meatballs. I sat alone in a crowd of people I do not know. I felt good and sad but serene.

Thank you, my new friends.

Très sincerement

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Fashion and Terrorist Act

The NYT was supposed to have their Luxury Conference in Versailles last Tuesday but it was postponed. Many glamorous events were postponed or canceled. Chanel did not cancel.

Of course we feel guilty in front of sorrow and think we should not splurge… but the NYT makes a strong point “gold chains and handbags represent jobs, heritage, taxes and national identity.”

“In France 16,500 people work for the luxury industry.”

“The French luxury sales in 2014 were 25 billion.”

“The taxes on that can build many roads”

“The luxury items are sold in 6,500 stores around the world, making them ambassadors of French culture.”

“The conference which was postponed was the site of the extraordinary meeting of both The House and the Senate, called by the president. It had not happen since 2009 at the time of the financial crisis.”

“History, Luxury, Crisis, an ironic juxtaposition?”

“No, in this case, a meaningful one”

In addition we must not let the terrorist change our ways of life, our sitting at sidewalk cafés, our laughing in the streets hand in hand, our love of art, music and fashion. Of course it does not mean that we must forget security, safety, pain. We must share this traumatic experience and support each other, care for each other.

Path of Escape

An amazing article “Retracing a Mother’s Path of Escape Along a Wintry Merrimack” about a trip taken by Jay Atkinson to relive the journey made by Mrs. Duston in 1697 after her village, Haverhill in Northern Mass., was destroyed and the people massacred by the Abenaki warriors, in service to the French.

She was made captive with a few others and her week old daughter. Her daughter had her head smashed against a tree later on. They were moved to an island near Concord Mass. called Tiny Sugar Ball Island where they would be transferred to Quebec to be sold as slaves to the French.

But Mrs. Dunston and her companions moved with tomahawks and knifes to the sleeping Abenaki and killed them and scalped their victims and escaped, in a stolen canoe, through treacherous waters, to the French settlements in Quebec.

“Mrs. Duston’s ordeal is the story of the frontier: an incursion by European settlers, the forceful response by the original inhabitants and a solution perpetrated by the newcomers that led to the near eradication of the Indians.”

This year, on the anniversary of Mrs. Duston’s escape and journey, the author has taken this harrowing trip down the Merrimack River in freezing conditions and unforgiving nature very similar to the conditions in which Mrs. Duston traveled.

It is a very interesting story from a moral point view?

How to judge the massacre she inflicted?

We must go deeply in the circumstances and the historical context of the time, the religious wars and political conflicts between the English and the French, the Protestants and the Catholics.

I liked reading the article also because of the wording, the precision of the words of Mr. Atkinson. I love words.

The Merrimack roared along, and we shifted our weight back and forth, trying to remain afloat in crosscurrents that were pushing us every which way. Veering to port, we knifed through some wavelets until the river slowed again, and I could drink from my water bottle and scarf down an energy bar. It felt as though we were sliding forward on a gigantic swell when two reports erupted from the near bank, startling us.

“It’s calving like a glacier,” Chris said, indicating where a slab of ice had broken from the shore.

My Interview with Food Network and My Time in Hawaii

While in Hawaii where I’m cooking, I was interviewed over Skype to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for Food Network. I fit the criteria since I’m a chef as well as a grandmother. They loved me, it went well! They want me to fly to LA to do the demonstration but I will be in France unfortunately. I cannot change it because I’ll be with my mother. It’s not officially over yet – they said they’ll see what they can do!

I love it here in Hawaii. I prepared bouillabaisse on the beach for Slow Food in Honolulu.
We went to the Farmer’s Market in Waialua. We live in Hauula by the sea but we will return to Honolulu on Monday.
I’ve prepared bisque, chocolate mousse, crepe, harissa and more. Tomorrow is the feast!!

Crab bisque moravian bouillabaisse crepe aux fruits creme chantilly honolulu slowfood

Tours, May 2015

When I get to Tours, I always like to take my mother out for lunch in a place that will obviously please her, but also will be interesting. Somebody suggested the Chateau de L’Aubriere in a small village called La Membrolle. It rang a bell to me – it reminded me of trips I took with my grandfather in a cargo motorcycle (triporteur) on our way to the chateau of Madame Cousin. The chatelaine of le chateau de l’Aubriere. I called them up wanting to make reservations for lunch because it is more suitable for my mother, who is 94 years old. Unfortunately they only serve dinner and only to their guests since it has become a fancy hotel. I told the new chatelaine my story about my grandfather being a cabinet maker and antique dealer and selling and restoring beautiful pieces for the original owner of the chateau. The new owner replied, “In that case Madame, it would be an honor to have you and your mother for dinner.” My mother was very moved when I told her the story and so we went by taxi with Madame Rose while she pushed my mother.1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10

On a beautiful evening, we arrived in the park, walked around while I pushed my mother in the wheelchair. The waiters came and lifted up my mother to take her up the stairs leading to the terrace where we had aperitifs. We were led to the main dining room where we were the only guests. Not only did she make an exception for us, but she opened up just for us!

The meal was excellent and so was the service. Unfortunately there were no furniture of my grandfather’s time but the feeling of the place was there with the tapestries, mirrors, and the old wainscots.

Dior and I: Movie Review

I just saw a superb movie if you love the cutting of material, the brisling of the cloth, the creativity of the atelier, the passion of the designer, the flow of colorful silk, taffetas, organdi, tulle lying on the table and down to the ground. Suddenly
the scissors cut into it and give these new forms and shapes like parts of a puzzle.
I love the embroidery all done by hand and the sewing of pearls and beads one by one.
“Dior and I” worked for one project in Dior’s beautiful house in Trouville which is a museum now.
It overlooks the sea, it smells of flowers, it is elegant, intimate, calm and restraint.
No noise, no effusion of temper!
It’s Dior; it is his ever lasting presence!

Dior