October 29, 2021
Dear Frenchly Readers,
In France, pumpkins are eaten savory, not sweet. And Halloween is less of a thing today than it was in the 90’s. (We have a great piece here, on Frenchly, about that decline, with quotes by real academics on the subject!)
However one wonders today if this might be changing, as a quick gander at our Instagram feed yesterday featured lots of Halloween-ey sweet treats like pumpkin flavored macarons or ghost shaped confections wedged in between photos of fall sunsets with the La Tour Eiffel in the background. And, this morning, the Internet reveals several Halloween to-do’s in Paris from pumpkin carving to celebrating Halloween at the Paris Zoo with a program focused on educating children about strange and wonderful creatures.
In my family, we’ve carried in the 4 large, and brilliantly orange, potirons our garden supplied this year and they are ready to be carved tomorrow.
My older son went to school today as Montjoy, the French herald, or royal messenger, in Shakespeare’s play, Henry V. After the bloody Battle of Agincourt, Henry says to Montjoy, “I tell thee truly, herald, I know not if the day be ours or no.” And Montjoy replies, “The day is yours.” (Here is a clip of that amazing scene with the indomitable Kenneth Branagh playing Henry.)
My younger son went as some Dracula character, and his brother was going to paint his face blue at lunchtime and add some sort of horrible red gash.
Tonight a few of my kids’ friends will come over for a “Haunted Wood” we’ve created down along the river behind our house.
And I am hoping to try out three French recipes this weekend to celebrate fall and Halloween and all things orange. Because, honestly, when else can one really celebrate orange?
One comes from David Leibowitz, that American expat pastry & everything chef, blogger and author living in Paris, whose book The Sweet Life in Paris was a huge hit. In his recipe, he cuts large tranches (slices) of potimarron, a smaller, sweeter chestnutty flavored kind of pumpkin (or squash), and lays them across parchment paper and seasons them simply. Check that out here. Another is for a jam made with pumpkin!This looks amazing. I really want to try it to go with Sunday morning popovers.
But my favorite, and the one I’m going to go all in for this weekend, and will hope to have as our pre-trick-or-treating-at-the-neighbor’s meal on Sunday is this soup from Haiti, called joumou.
This soup has a really interesting and uncomfortable history: During the French colonial rule of Haiti, enslaved Africans were forced to cultivate squashes for this hearty and spicy soup that’s like a jazzed-up beef stew with noodles, pumpkins and root vegetables. But they were forbidden to eat it. When Haitians won their freedom on January 1st, 1804, the story goes, they ate joumou to celebrate. Now, on January first, Haitians traditionally eat joumou to celebrate the New Year and their own independence. I think it looks so hearty and delicious, I can’t wait to try it (though I might skip the extra step of dumplings as I see some recipes, like this one, without them!)
Here are a few more French pumpkin recipes for you to consider making if my three choices don’t appeal.
Now, you all probably don’t want to read a long thing, as you’ve got pumpkin bread to bake (I put chocolate chips in mine) and costumes to make and pumpkins to carve. But if you want some ideas for French inspired costumes, or might consider screening a festival on your couch of creepy French horror movies this weekend, or reading up about witches and witchcraft in Paris through the ages—and where you can get your witchy fix today–Frenchly has got you covered, here.
And now, without further ado, I’ll get right to it:
What I am watching ce weekend :
Frenchly has two amazing reviews today of two new movies:
The first is written by film reviewer Andrea Meyer and is about a new movie called Only the Animals and stars Laure Calamy (Noémi in “Call My Agent.”) Only the Animals sounds like an exciting, expansive and moving thriller that has some terrific performances.
The second is this absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious review Catherine Rickman has written about Julia DuCournau’s new movie, Titane— France’s pick for the Oscars this year.
And my youngest son (6) has left Johnny Duddle Land on the France Channel and we’re now streaming The Long Long Holiday. He loves it. It might be a good fit for your kiddos this weekend when you’re needing some time to chop vegetables for joumou.
And, finally, I’m really interested in this film, Between Two Worlds, opening the COLCOA film festival next week in Los Angeles. It’s starring Juliette Binoche as France’s Barbara Ehrenreich—a journalist who goes undercover to experience the lives of France’s most underpaid and disadvantaged workers. We have the trailer and more about the festival, here, on Frenchly.
What I am listening to :
Frenchly’s Anne-Fleur has selected three podcasts today for the season. One is about how children experience fear, another about those pesky autumn blues and the last is so easy to enjoy, even for a non-French speaker, because it’s bedtime scary movies all acted out—it’s like going to the theatre in your ear. But make sure you’re not home alone, Anne-Fleur warns, as some of these stories are quite scary. Check out her charming reviews with links to the podcasts here.
What I am reading :
I am really excited about some of the pieces we’ve been publishing this week on Frenchly. We have this wonderful personal essay from a writer named Philip Ruskin about biking around his neighborhood and picking up le dîner while he does it.
Also this Op-Ed from our writer Angelika Pokovba who decries Vogue Paris’ name change to Vogue France.
This week I finished Sally Rooney’s new novel, Beautiful World Where Are You—it’s at once titillating and also depressing. And I read this piece in the New York Times about raising feminist sons and patted myself on the back a few times; maybe you will, too?
This piece about the magician Ricky Ray is really cool, too.
Ok, that’s it for this week. Get out there and howl at the moon, dress up as Marie Antoinette, or just make some pumpkin spice cookies. Whatever you choose, enjoy it because Halloween is only once a year.
Have a good weekend.
It is no surprise that this novel has already won multiple literary prizes and was a bestseller when first published in France.