Le Weekend, 2/10/23: Kissing Like a French Person, A Valentine’s Menu & Every Flavor Crème Brûlée 🇫🇷

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February 10, 2023

Dear Frenchly Readers,

The term “French kiss” entered the American vernacular in 1923. The reigning theory is that it came home with American men who had traveled to France in those heady post-war years of the roaring twenties and had kissed (tolerant and patient) French women with reckless, or maybe drunk, abandon. Apparently, those guys found that French women were ok with a little sloppy tongue action, or just more polite about it than American women. Fast forward through another World War, more American GIs are coming home from Europe and, all of a sudden, American men and women start kissing each other in a slightly more involved way than the usual puritanical peck. Remember the photo of the American sailor in Times Square kissing a nurse at the end of the war? That photo might have had something to do with it.

The Franks were slightly mystified for decades by the Americans’ definition of wet, open-mouthed kissing. In 2014, however, the Académie Française decided to add the old slang verb, “galocher,” to the dictionary, which means, “to kiss with the mouth open.”

Kissing is good for us, according to scientists. Whether you’re kissing your pet lizard, your toy teddy bear, or your loved one, there’s something about the action of it that can reduce blood pressure, make you happier by flooding your brain with oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, and while you’re at it, burn a few calories, boost your self-esteem and, even, maybe (can this be possible?), fight cavities. You can read more about it in this fascinating 2019 book, The Science of Kissing, by Sheril Kirshenbaum. (Email me and tell me who made the sculpture on the cover of her book.)

If you’d rather just go straight to the lab and make your own determinations based on empirical evidence, we have a few incentives this Friday before Valentine’s Day: A selection of 5 ingredient crème brûlées that will make hearts melt even if you just served scrambled eggs for dinner.

Or this super easy French Valentine’s Day menu complete with wine pairings that will impress even the most snarky of partners (and can be tweaked for the vegetarian or vegan). If you don’t feel comfortable spouting off French romantic poems while you whisk and braise, then here’s a  playlist for you to let the real crooners do the hard work. All you need to do is pop the corks of the wine.

If you want to really hit the ball out of the park, maybe curl up on the couch after dinner and dream about a trip to Paris in the next year to see this immersive Chagall exhibit before tucking into a bistrot for a lovely verre and steak frites. Nothing more romantic than dreaming, IMHO.

À cuisiner, regarder et lire çe weekend:

There won’t be any kissing in my house this Valentine’s Day as everyone but I (so far) have been felled by Covid. They’re all sequestered in various rooms while I shuttle around with cups of tea and glasses of various potions I’m whipping up with things like black seed cumin oil, vitamin D, quercetin and insane amounts of vitamin C. You can imagine how popular my knock at the door is right about now. Dread might be the best word to describe what I see on my family’s faces. On my end of things, I can’t believe I am wearing two masks again, but I am, each time I dive into the breach of their rooms. My hope is that by the time I get the plague someone will be well enough to take care of me, or at least make me a crème brûllée next Tuesday.

In the meantime, my mother suggested I try the old French cure of the elixir of long life, Chartreuse, to combat the virus. I took her up on it last night and had a tipple, or two.

And I am getting my romance from your 30 Word love Stories! This weekend is the end of the contest: SO…send in your stories because this is the last call for our “30 Word French Love Story Contest”—midnight on Sunday in the deadline.

There are prizes: 5 copies from HarperCollins Publishers of the advance reader copy of my forthcoming novel, Pete and Alice in Maine. And a bracelet from agnès b. Check the prizes out on the contest link above. We’d love to hear from you and see you win! Here are a few  entries I really enjoyed this week:

At the side of the Seine, I went to a soothsayer to help me sort out Sartre and Descartes. Finally, after an éclair, all became clear! —Madeleine

Il a dit, “Je voudrais passer les 50 prochaine années avec toi.” Il m’a proposé de nager avec lui. Nous avons nagé ensemble pendant cinquante ans. Puis il est mort.—Nancy 

Marrakech at sunset: the Moroccan tour guide spoke no English, the American tourist no French. Eyes locked; a spark ignited. Spoken words superfluous, hearts melted. Je t’aime pour toujours. —Elizabeth

And here’s a list of movies to watch for every kind of Valentine’s Day you desire. After a big meal, a movie may be all you have the energy for. Who said cooking and eating weren’t sensual? And here are three podcasts about what Valentine’s Day should be all about.

Not to kill the mood, but this piece on menopause in the Times Magazine last week is worth a read.

And, to get it back, Peter Nichols’ infamous piece about a clitoris stroking cult in Paris is always worth a read.

One more: Sam Sifton turned me on to this song by Sunny War called “No Reason” this morning in his “What to cook this weekend” NY Times newsletter. I loved it. But I loved this first song of hers at the Stone Church in VT even more.

Have a lovely, romantic weekend.

À bientôt,


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