Le Weekend, 10/20/23: Président Macron Won’t Rush to the Middle East, French Apples, and a New Movie


October 20, 2023

Dear Frenchly Readers,

Président Macron has not gone—yet—to the Middle East. And that’s ok. He has said that he may go in a few days or weeks. But finding the moral ground and his struggle to determine how he can be helpful clearly weigh on him. He said in Paris on Tuesday, “My desire is to be able to travel [to Israel] when we can obtain a concrete agreement either on non-escalation, or on humanitarian issues and, more broadly, on everything.”

I respect the French president taking time to weigh the options, think through how to do this in a way that respects not only what his own people will be sensitive to, but also what the world may need. France has a large Muslim population and also a large Jewish population—the largest of both in Europe, according to Reuters. Macron must weigh France’s domestic peace and security and what being a moral international leader must look like–and be– right now.

My last Le Weekend about the Israel-Palestine conflict and the French history surrounding it got me more letters than any other Le Weekend, ever. I read every single letter. Here are a few things some of you said that helped me learn or meant a lot to me or made me laugh out loud:

“…starting around 1915, the Sykes-Picot agreement in the spirit of colonialist collaboration between France and the UK, secretly carved up the Middle – East region from the Ottoman Empire which the land of Israel was part of as a neglected outpost.”

“Btw; there is no country named Palestine; only during the British mandate, right before 1948, when Christians, Arabs & Jews were all called Palestinians.”

“‘Know thyself, and to thine own self be true.’ If you followed this advice, from Shakespeare’s Polonius to Hamlet, you’d realize you are a pampered, privileged housewife, writing from the comfort, security, and privacy of your little piece of heaven in Maine, and have no place couching Hamas apologism in saccharine euphemisms and distorted ‘historical’ analysis.”

“Last week I read thousands of words of commentary on the events in Israel-Gaza.
Your essay here is better than anything I read. Thank you.”

True dialogue, and then figuring out solutions, are not always easy or speedy.

À cuisiner, boire, regarder *WIN* et lire ce weekend:

Ok, so where I am in Maine it’s going to pour this weekend. Once again. Last weekend, my older son and I went and picked 100 pounds of apples. I’ve only made a crisp, muffins, and two Dutch Babies with cinnamon sugared apples on top this week, but we have eaten so many fresh, delicious apples. I have a bowl of them which I have been replenishing in the back seat of my car and I love hearing my youngest and a friend just start munching as they discuss their books and soccer.

This morning, I combed the Frenchly website for apple recipes and found a Tarte Normande and these beautiful French apple recipes from a cookbook all about apples, along with my favorite, Kate Christensen’s easy take on the one-pan Provençal apple tart. 

Then I talked to Cat and she told me we were publishing Philip Ruskin’s new piece about a great new pastry cookbook called Voilà Vegan from the incredible Amanda Bankert, who is the genius behind Boneshaker donuts. (See article below.) I challenge you to make those apple fritters this weekend! (What? You might want the cookbook?! OK! Guess what? We are giving away two copies to the first two people who email me with the correct answer to this question: What two sweeteners do vegans eschew and why? 

This weekend, Dan and I are going to MASS MoCA and staying at the Porches Inn as an anniversary celebration. This is the first time we have gone away without our children for 15 years. I cannot believe that is true. But it is. They have a year-round outdoor heated pool there, which is why Dan chose it, because I love to swim.

I am already planning Sunday night dinner back home with my boys. I picked some beautiful new potatoes yesterday and I plan to boil them with butter and chives and serve them with a roast chicken. I already want to make this apple cake, from Smitten Kitchen. 

We are bringing books. I am just about to finish My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin, which I have read in a white heat this week. It is amazing and unputdownable. So unputdownable, I had to peel myself away from it to get to work this morning! It’s actually sort of annoying–I should be packing, working, folding laundry. But I want to read MLIY–I need to know what happens. I am being interviewed by Daisy about my novel, Pete and Alice in Maine, in Connecticut at Elm Street Books in New Canaan on November 2nd, if you care to come meet me! If not, her book is fabulous. And it’s got lots of French in it–French class, French literature, pretentious college students speaking French, as many of us (yours truly, included) once did.

I am then going back to my project of tandem reading Demon Copperhead and David Copperfield. I wrote here about this project and how it’s really hard for me to read during the year before a book pub. But I am back to writing and reading and I love it!

Watch: Anatomy of a Fall, the new French movie everyone is talking about. It received the Palme d’Or for depicting the fictional story of a women on trial for the suspected murder of her husband.

I am watching a new French show with my older son on Netflix that I absolutely adore. I will have a full review of it next week. In the meantime, I can tell you: It’s about a youth center leader in the banlieue of Paris who suddenly gets thrust into the Presidential race. He’s Black and outspoken and fresh. This show can be fresh, in the other sense of the word, and even rude at times, but my son and I have been laughing so hard we have to hit pause to contain ourselves.

Get off the news this weekend. And go for a walk. Choose to laugh when you can.

À bientôt,


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