November 12, 2021
Dear Frenchly Readers,
Kamala Harris was in Paris this week, attempting to mend the rift the U.S. caused when the U.S. intercepted the lucrative submarine deal France had with Australia and royally pissed off France earlier this fall. President Biden, himself, admitted in Rome in late October, that the botched deal “was not done with a lot of grace.” And The New York Times reports that the U.S. is attempting to now throw “an entire olive tree” at President Emmanuel Macron’s feet in an attempt to smooth things over. My first week at Frenchly, I wrote this essay about the crisis, and as the fallout continues, it is a story that lingers on in French/U.S. relations.
My dear Uncle Jay, who is a real friend and comfort to me, wrote me an email about the rift yesterday. He wrote, “But Biden had a long talk in Rome last week with Macron, suggesting to me that sending the second team a week later is superfluous. France was the USA’s first ally but it is no longer as important as, say, Canada. Analysts here and in France suspect that the real reason is that VP Harris is positioning herself to run for President in 2024. She will need to show herself experienced in world affairs and to be personal friends with a dozen leaders.” I think this is a smart take.
In other political news, six politicians have announced their candidacy for the president of France, hoping to unseat the popular Macron next year. Frenchly broke the candidates down this week, including the bizarre run of the ultra-right author and lightning rod, Zemmour, and, on the left, the environmentally conscious Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. If elected, Ana María “Anne” Hidalgo Aleu, will be the first woman and third President to be born outside of France– she was born in Spain. The two men were Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Paul Deschanel. More on Deschanel another time. His behavior in office was so bizarre that he was committed to an asylum but later was elected to the Senate.
This week, Frenchly published some really interesting pieces, including this one about some tropical getaways where you can speak French and bask in the sun; this one about a melt-in-your-mouth pastry called a merveilleux; a piece we translated from French Morning about the U.S. travel ban that was lifted—finally–to the relief of French entrepreneurs and families; and this one from Anne-Fleur that’s got four podcasts that will transport you to a foreign land without even stepping on un avion. (I especially loved this piece of Anne-Fleur’s because she’s got a great selection of podcasts that will appeal to those who don’t speak French that terrifically, but want to get a little soupçon nonetheless. One, in fact, is all about a French guy’s travels through the U.S. trailing some “pilgrims” who follow in the footsteps on MLK Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, among others. Much of his podcast is in English and then translated into French, making it a fun voyage and a French lesson in one.)
Also, this week I’ve been working on getting all of my past Le Weekends up on our site. This is a work in progress, one I will be adjusting all weekend. On Monday, this Le Weekend will go up, too. Thank you to all of you who have become my citizen editors, grammarians and fact checkers! You will now find typos (mostly, I hope) corrected, faulty links reestablished (sorry that coconut kale last week was a dud—you can find it here.) And if you missed something and want to go back and binge read yours truly, you now can do that by clicking here.
What I am watching ce weekend:
In watching news, Dan and I have been hooked, like most of the world, on Ted Lasso. We were still faithfully watching “Le Bureau des Legends” (which I love so much I can’t even tell you how much I admire the incredible acting!) But then there’s a scene—I won’t spoil it—in the third season that freaked us both out so much, we had to detox somehow in order to go to sleep one night last week. The only thing we could think of was the clever and silly humor of Ted Lasso. Two episodes of Ted Lasso later, we were still freaked out, so it only sort of worked. We woke up the next morning still talking about, no joke, “Le Bureau des Legends.”
Now, Ted Lasso is certainly not in French, unless you invoke that old saying “pardon my French,” because every third word is the f-bomb. I looked up, by the way, where that phrase came from and found that it was originally used in England when someone polyglot impishly tossed off a French word (like, maybe Shakespeare, for instance), and the other person didn’t get it because they weren’t as polyglot as the first mec. From there the phrase, “pardon my French,” because of all that conflict between France and England, came to become a dig at the French, a belittlement. These nuances of language continually amaze and interest me.
What I am reading:
This week, I’ve been reading about kids getting vaxxed and I’ve signed my youngest up for next week; I’ve been reading about the logistical nightmare of breakthrough infections; this terrific-sounding new film from Kenneth Branagh, called, Belfast; a new Netflix film from Rebecca Hall about “passing” for white when Black; and this amazing 5,000-mile journey of a puppet called “Little Amal” that has been created as a piece of “life theatre” in order to highlight the Syrian refugee crisis.
And, I don’t know about you, but everyone in my family is anxiously awaiting the new Peter Jackson movie about the Beatles, Get Back —we hope to watch it Thanksgiving Day.
Speaking of Thanksgiving—we’re going to have some great reads for you and great suggestions from wines to films for that holiday weekend—so stay tuned. I’m pretty excited about what we’ve got cooking.
What I am cooking:
Speaking of cooking, as Thanksgiving approaches and I’m planning my cooking, I think of Julia Child, The French Chef. Here’s her recipe for pie dough. By the way, today is the release date for the new documentary on Julia Child–very exciting.
Before I sign off, we’ve been watching the baby sloth in the London Zoo here, and we enjoyed Billie Eilish on Sesame Street, and my mother sent me this Josephine Baker song this week, which can cheer even the grayest of days.
Ok, that’s my news for this Friday. Have a good weekend.