October 14, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
A little over a year ago, I wrote my first Le Weekend. It was an idea I brought to the job: a weekend newsletter that was chatty, warm, had ideas for the weekend and where I could find a way to coalesce and celebrate what we’d been publishing all week on Frenchly. I also wanted to start to give Frenchly a voice, a person behind the screen. Luckily for me, my boss, Emmanuel Saint-Martin, liked the idea. Though he was a little shocked that I wanted to start it my very first week on the job, he didn’t stand in my way. Thanks to him and you, my readers, what started as just an idea has become a dialogue, a place where we can share ideas and thoughts, music, art, films, recipes and a thorough love of France and French culture.
Looking back now, I can’t believe that I have written, in just over a year, 51 editions of Le Weekend. Today is my 52nd.
I took a moment his past week to sift through the past 51 pieces and I was stuck by the events of the past year: The illegal war in Ukraine, the reelection of Emmanuel Macron, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Uvalde school shooting, the death of Godard, a first French female Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Annie Ernaux. And through it all, Frenchly was providing smart, interesting and new voices like the Rue du Soleil column from Karen Karbo, about life in the small southwest border town of Collioure; Bouffe from author Kate Christensen, which features French recipes retooled by Kate with panache and grace for the American home cook; Bouquin, all about French books in translation, from novelist Debra Spark; Andrea Meyer’s Le Ciné all about movies and TV, often featuring interviews with French directors and actors; reliably fun, smart, witty work from staff writer, Catherine Rickman, who covers anything from Emily in Paris to French baby-naming trends; regular French foodie and culture pieces from Paris-based Philip Ruskin; the start to a series, “Love in France,” with personal essays from a variety of contributors—this one, here, made us infamously famous. And so many interviews and discoveries week after week—the amount of work produced by our small team in just a year is truly staggering.
So, this week for Le Weekend, I am going to include, below, five of my favorite Le Weekends from the past year in celebration of a year gone well. They are not necessarily my best written, but they are the ones I had the most fun writing…I know I have grown a lot, Frenchly has grown, and you, my readers are the reason we are growing and learning from each other. Thank you for the dialogue, the inspiration, for being there for me to write to—I have loved getting to know you and am excited to get to know you better.
In celebration of you, I have a trivia question and my own giveaway: what is the name of the special baguette from Bordeaux my friend, Lorin, makes in his bakery in Davis California? My first responder will get a signed copy of my 2011 memoir, Made for You and Me, which I will mail next week.
Now, before I switch over to cooking watching and reading, I need to take a minute here to broaden out from our little universe and mention the protests in Iran. This primer from the BBC will tell you more about it; they have broken it down very simply. Together, let’s breathe in the courage it is taking for women in Iran to rip off their hijabs and say, “enough.” They are being joined by men and teenage boys who are bravely also saying, “enough to the subjugation of women. These are our sisters, our mothers, our friends.” This is a serious and important challenge to Iranian authorities. When I think back through the last several years, I do believe change is happening. Women are getting their voices and they are owning their right to be angry. This matters—inside families, inside marriages, inside offices, states, countries.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisiner, regarder et lire):
Read: We have two new pieces today—one from Catherine Rickman about immersive art shows in New York, which has inspired me to share this piece from Le Monde about protestors throwing Heinz tomato soup at Van Gogh’s sunflowers in London…supposedly to protest the UK use of oil and gas….(I don’t get it, either.) And another from Sophie Dodd about how to go to France…for free! (Just get ready to roll up your sleeves.)
I don’t know about you, but my weekend is going to be partly about sitting down to read this piece in The New Yorker about Tom Stoppard’s new play, Leopolstadt. I might not get to NYC to see it, but I can at least read about it. My friend Craig, a playwright and sometimes Frenchly contributor, who wrote this hilarious piece called “The Play and the Andouillette” for us last fall about having a play of his produced in Paris, called me after he saw Stoppard’s play and told me all about it. Sharing art that way, together, even if I can’t see the work itself, is almost just as good.
Cook: I made this chocolate self-saucing cake last weekend for dessert. I thought it was amazing. The sauce and the warm molten quality of the whole thing with ice cream on top—wow. My only suggestions: add some vanilla and sprinkle the top with a little fleur de sel if you’ve got it before baking (I have some I got last summer in Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse ). I am also really interested in this cauliflower soup. I might skip the harissa to make it less spicy and use, instead, just a few chili flakes and throw in a bit of parmesan because I want the creaminess of the cauliflower to be the focus. Let me know what you plan to cook this weekend?
I watched this sixteen-minute documentary this week about a young Native American man who is running to not only stave off his own desperate depression but also to raise awareness for depression. I was moved and haunted after watching it. I will hold his face in my mind forever—his courage and vulnerability.
I will be back next Friday with a new Bouffe, a new Rue du Soleil and more!
PS: If you like these Le Weekends, please forward them — Frenchly is growing and improving and we want as many people to know about our writers and interesting subjects as possible!
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I think of those deer every time I jump in the water now.
Marie Antoinette is famously remembered as having said, “Let them eat cake.”
When all else fails and the world is upside down, as David Bowie says, “Just Dance.”
We no longer have the right to bear arms when we use arms to kill innocent kids going to school.
Fearless flights of courage and fancy.