May 27, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. She was barely 19 years old. Over 400 years later, she was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Between the goalposts of her untimely death and sainthood, her story unfolded: Born to a peasant family in 1412, Joan had visions, she said, from the archangel Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret who were all instructing her to support King Charles VII of France during the Hundred Years’ War and save France from English domination. Bravely, Joan lead troops into battle in Orléans, her hair short, her belief fervent in her chest. In 1430, she was captured and traded to the English and then kept in a dark cell in France for over a year until she was tried for heresy, dressing like a man and witchcraft. Then came her untimely and cruel death. Twenty-five years later, France repented and she was exonerated and, finally, revered as a martyr.
In the famous play, Saint Joan, by George Bernard Shaw, Joan gives a soliloquy I have been thinking about this week. Late in the play, chained and only given bread and water to eat and drink, the darkness impenetrable, Joan protests: “If only I could still hear the wind in the trees, the larks in the sunshine, the young lambs crying through the healthy frost, and the blessed blessed church bells that send my angel voices floating to me on the wind.”
Those lines have been ringing in my head since yet another terrible massacre of American children has occurred, this time in Uvalde, Texas. Those children will never again hear the wind rustling the Texas bluebells, the hummingbirds darting and buzzing through the sunshine, the bellows of long-horned cattle or any of church bells tolling their sad and untimely demise. There have already been 27 school shootings in only a 5 scant months of 2022. 600 years after the death of Joan of Arc, it seems the same ignoble cast of men in power stand by and let true evil run its ugly course, and children are still being martyred.
What can we do? Move to France? Perhaps. Frenchly published this piece yesterday, written by my boss, Emmanuel Saint-Martin, (in French on French Morning, then translated for you by me, this morning), that attempts to break down the connection between gun violence in the U.S. and the number of firearms we have here—compared to France. It seems that almost every other country in the world is safer for children than the United States. This piece in the New Yorker yesterday was about how other countries have found ways to prevent gun violence.
It’s hard this morning to find the reserves to tell you about recipes for a holiday weekend when my heart is heavy. 2022 seems to be a year of unending grief and violence which, over and over, I must address in this newsletter. I wish I were writing more frequently about sunnier topics. But. Even in grief, I am searching for beauty, for connection.
Because, to find the courage to make change—to charge into Orléans, eat and drink only bread and water in a cell and stick to our convictions–we must also have beauty, air and ideas. We must find every inspiration right now to summon all of the empathy we can find within our beings for those families who have lost their children in school shootings and we must channel it to make change–real change that we insist upon. We can’t be held back by an 231-year-old amendment signed by a bunch of guys who were worried about the English, not teenagers who need Prozac. The very heart of our democracy is at stake right now. There’s no one in this world who truly thinks children should be casualties. That basic fact should unite all of us.
So, before I go any farther there’s a beautiful song by Greg Brown called “Wash My Eyes”—I want to share it with you now as you think about the events of this past week and enter into a Memorial Day weekend.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
This rhubarb & onion chicken looks lovely.
There’s a piece in this week’s New Yorker by Lauren Collins about thermal springs in France. We published a list this past winter of affordable hot springs (all for under 20 Euros!) in France. Maybe it’s time to revisit our list after you read her piece and book a trip?
This week in Le Ciné by Andrea Meyer she gives us a list of movies that feature Paris monuments –she got the idea after watching the new movie, Eiffel, which she reviews in this list. We also have French gifts for newlyweds; weird and wonderful Airbnb’s in France; an organic pay-what-you-can grocery store in Paris; a French elections update and a vibe check on French cities other than Paris.
If you want to order the The Maine Community Cookbook, Volume 2, that I wrote about last week and features a recipe of mine for gluten-free pizza, the publishers are offering a more than 30% discount to our readers until June 1st—next week! Here’s the link and here’s the code: FRENCHLY15.
And, last week, I also wrote about a new collection of essays about food called Breaking Bread, which was just published by Beacon Press and was edited by author and Frenchly contributor, Debra Spark, and also author, Deborah Joy Corey, and will benefit Blue Angel, an organization working to combat food insecurity. Here’s some language from the publisher about how your purchase of the book will go to Blue Angel: “All Royalties from the sales of the hardcover of Breaking Bread will be donated to Blue Angel by the editors; All Net Proceeds from the sales of the hardcover of Breaking Bread will be donated to Blue Angel by Beacon Press.” Buying this book, or giving directly to Blue Angel, will help support children and families.
I leave you with an essay of mine called “Covid’s Moveable Feast,” that’s about my children learning French during the pandemic. A version of it is in Breaking Bread. I published it this morning on Frenchly to give you a sneak peek of the book. I am dedicating it to parents everywhere who love their children; hold them tight.
And, the first two of you who write back to me today will get a special gift box from Beacon Press with your own copy of the book, a tea towel, some lovely maple syrup, Walkers cookies and more. Check out my essay and the giveaway box here.
Those of you who want to order the book, use this link and this code: SPRING30. You will get a discount if you do it before June 30th! Father’s Day gift anyone?
Final Words: We need to overcome stasis. We need save our children. My rank opinion is that we no longer have the right to bear arms when we use arms to kill innocent kids going to school.
If you wish to donate to organizations trying to help the victims of Uvalde, Texas, the New York Timespublished this list.
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