September 08, 2023
Dear Frenchly Readers,
It’s fall, even though where I live in Maine you might not know it. Though it rained the entire summer long, now it seems that Maine will finally experience a belated July. While I transpirer comme un cochon, I notice that school buses are going by in the morning and my children are no longer home, and I don’t seem to need to pick them up at random times in the middle of the day. Which gives me time to contemplate important things like, What are the hot hairstyles in France this fall? Or, What are the French wearing right now? Is it hot there, too?
The answer to the third question is that, yes, in both Maine and France it’s hot—well above 80 degrees and into the 90s. To the first, the haircut thing came to me because I read this really interesting article on Atlas Obscura about French mustaches. In 1907, waiters in France went on strike in order to be allowed to sport mustaches, which were banned for servants, priests, and waiters, who were all required to shave for their jobs. Working class men, it was decreed, must be clean shaven, or else they might sprinkle ickiness from their facial hair.
After watching this YouTube video from the dapper “History Guy” about the strikes, I then started to think about mustaches in general and French mustaches. With such insightful Google searches as, “do French men have mustaches,” I find experts, like this one on the site Beardoholic, telling me that “Most French men wear a mustache. The French mustache has become an iconic fashion symbol for them. This mustache even serves as a distinctive feature that immediately signifies their French heritage.” OMG did they write that in all seriousness? And Beardstyle has “20 Best French Mustache styles to Grab Attention” for this fall. If you follow their recommendations, you can sors your pied-à-terre looking like a spiffy if spittle-twisted Dali or Cyrano de Bergerac and, apparently, be in style and ridiculous at the same time.
Once you have the mustache thing down, you will want to get on to your hair. Bien sûr. The hairstyle that’s most of the 2023 dude moment (and does not seem to go amazingly well with that twisty thin mustache look that Beardaholic tells us is all the rage in France) is the French Crop. Essentially a neat, shorn haircut on the sides, with a tuft on top that falls forward, this is the haircut of le moment (and other moments, too, as it was first sported by Caesar who liked that extra bit of fluff on top). Now, Cat is going to Paris tomorrow and I’ll get her to report back on this, and all other things fashion, when she is home, but this is what I learn from such reliable sources as The Trend Spotter which tells me what the “15 Sexy French Crop Haircuts for Men” are these days. I’ll let you know if my almost-15-year-old son has this style by next week. Not that he reads my Le Weekend. (He doesn’t.) When I was 11, I went to Hairbenders in Ellsworth, Maine, and asked for a haircut almost exactly like the one on Trend Spotter’s above list called the “Textured French Crop.” Instead, I came out with a buzz cut. Which was more like a buzz kill.
Women get it a little easier, for once, as the haircut that is all the rage in France, I am told by sources like Deavita, is the French Bob: Long on the sides, to just below the ear, blunt cut, with bangs. A lovely look for curls, sleek, or windswept, the site informs me. Here at Frenchly, we were already promoting this haircut back in 2018. The Internet seems torn about whether French women go gray or not, which likely represents the fact that most women are torn about it in general. I wrote an essay about my author photo and choosing my gray this summer. A French Bob, with some gray, IMHO would be lovely and perfect. I’m tempted. For those who can’t decide, there’s always Le French Cop Bob Mop. This is even more rare, even trendier.
Now that you have your facial and scalp hair all sorted, let’s get on to clothes: Much of the classic adult woman style never changes in France, it is iconic. But the French are now favoring high waisted jeans that taper, just when you finally got the right pair of wide legged jeans. Oh and pleats on pants, the usual blazers and trench coats, and, voilà, the ankle boot is back. All, obviously, after the heat has passed. It may be the period called “la rentrée,” which means back-to-school or back-to-life, but in France, as in Maine, everyone is still in summer. Just look at this photo from Paris this week: tennis shoes and short dresses because it’s so darn hot.
(Dudes can get help on Frenchly, here.)
À cuisiner, boire, regarder et lire ce weekend:
I have recently become obsessed with sheet pan ratatouille. A neighbor told me about how she was making it one night when I saw her swimming off a dock some of us locals frequent, and since then I have been making it with alterations. Sometimes I throw in a hot pepper or two. A sprinkle of sugar to sweeten the entire thing. Fresh oregano instead of basil. Anyway, the basics are always the same: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, garlic cloves, onions, herbs, a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar, and some great quality olive oil. Melissa Clark makes it with goat cheese, lemon, and olives over on the NY Times site. This one from Simply Recipes features summer squash and gives you not only some knife techniques, but also mentions the Provençal origins of the dish as a way to chop up, use up, and “stir up,” as the word is translated, the produce from overflowing late summer gardens. No zucchini bread for those French folks! (Tip: when you do it on the sheet pan it all becomes so easy, it’s ridiculous.)
Or, if you want to stay true-ish to the French origins of the recipe, then stick with Frenchly’s Kate Christensen who made us this recipe for Tian, a Provençal veggie casserole, last summer!
I do love a salad with it, and I like my goat cheese there, not on the ratatouille. This warm goat cheese French salad of Melissa Clark’s is terrific. Or this one from a new site I recently found, Mad About Macarons, which uses beautiful little Crottin de Chavignol cheeses, walnuts, and the tenderest lettuces and bacon (my family doesn’t eat pork, so we would leave that off).
Speaking of eating, I recently started watching The Bear, the Hulu show about an award-winning chef who has gone home to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop. Though it’s mostly Italian food, at one point a chicken dish is made that made me think of Chicken Meunière, the lesser known cousin of the sole dish of the same name, but just as delicious. The Italians call it “Chicken Francese,” or “French chicken.” It would also go great with ratatouille.
To read: This piece in Le Monde about the paper’s Prix Litteraire 2023, is in French. (But easy French. I promise.) Check it out and read about this book. Though it looks heavy, I hope it comes to us in English and Debra Spark will review it for her Frenchly column, Bouquin.
And, lastly, I found myself very moved by this painting of Magritte’s, A Variation on Sadness, which I saw in a new book called Bird: Exploring The Winged World…which is all about birds. Yes, on the surface the painting is about the chicken and egg conundrum. But it’s also about motherhood and the powerlessness of animals that have no voice.
Have a wonderful weekend. Fall is here…well, not really.
PS: I have a correction to my Le Weekend from last week. I said that the only Michelin starred restaurants in Canada were in Toronto. I am wrong! A reader set me straight. Check out Vancouver as well as Toronto, here. Canada is full of Michelins!
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