May 13, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
In France, the month of May makes some people grumble. Though there is the saying, “en Mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît” or “in May, do what makes you happy,” there are a couple of bumps in those Elysian fields of violettes.
For one, school children are home for vacation, which can be a mixed blessing, as any parent knows. Thank goodness, here in the U.S., we get most of that all done with in unsightly March and April.
Then, these days, there are the fuel prices, which, as the French might say, coûte la peau des fesses, or, “cost as much as the skin off your butt cheeks,” making it so that taking the kids to the beach for a day is as expensive as a flight to Madagascar.
And then, even if the French are a bit more “c’est la vie quotidienne” about the pandemic than we are, Covid still looms like a demented dementor over everything, even an innocent trip to the boulangerie.
Finalement, there is the énervant problem of the May holidays. In France, there are lots of May holidays. And though holidays are the kind of thing the French do really well –– no culture loves shutting up shop and having long lazy days eating several courses of a huge repas with friends, families and fromage (check out our piece on The Art & Customs of the French Sunday) as the French — the holidays in May are not often conveniently placed on weekdays that are close to weekends (think Fridays and Mondays), so that the French can “faire le pont,” or, “make a bridge,” and then have a lovely 4-day weekend. Some French even like to “faire le viaduc” which is a “really long bridge” and take off until Wednesday of the following week, according to Frenchly’s writer, Karen Karbo, who writes our amazing and funny Rue du Soleil column about expat life in The Town That Must not Be Named. (Alert! Karen has a new column–Philip Seymour Hoffman at the French Dump–which was just published today!)
This year, the French were unlucky: Labor Day was May 1st –– a Sunday — which would have been celebrated, if it weren’t on a weekend, with a day off. But like all Sundays (again, see French Sunday piece), it was already a holiday because it’s a Sunday already (how many times can I say Sunday and already in one sentence?)
May Day, by the way, is celebrated in France with lovely bunches of muguet, or lilies of the valley, gathered in the woods and given to loved ones as hopeful symbols of good luck (too bad they weren’t given on a Tuesday this year).
Next up: The Fete de la Victoire was on May 8th, also a Sunday. (The Fête de la Victoire celebrates the end of the war and the defeat of Nazi Germany.) Then we have Ascension Day on May 26th, a Thursday. Now this one might make French people grumble a bit less because Mother’s Day, in France, is the 29th of May, and this is a bonus because one might be able to slip away to do some faire-ing of le viaduc. (If you want to be more French this year and celebrate Mother’s Day late, our partner, French Wink, has made a sweet little “Maman” box for our Frenchly readers—check it out here.)
Back in the U.S., with Mother’s Day behind me now, I can focus on my jardin, which really needs some help. (By the way, that Lisbon Chocolate Cake I wrote about last week was amazing—I hope you made it; if you did not yet, then try it. Dan and the boys baked it and then we all hiked with silver, china and a tablecloth down to a nearby preserve where we sat under oak trees and ate the cake before hiking home, just like in a French pastoral movie.)
Every year I make the mistake in the flower gardens of pulling up flowers I planted in the fall because I think they are weeds. I spend hours standing out there trying to figure out what green thing is what and then, every year, in a fit of desperation, I yank. This year, I am trying to find a middle ground: I have identified one weed species (I think) to pull out, so far. The others I am watching. The bees are appreciating my method…or maybe they are swearing at me, who knows?
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
To read: As I said above, Karen Karbo has a new Rue du Soleil, which, in our house, is reason for doing some fête-ing. When she has a new column, even Dan stops everything and sits down to read my Le Weekend at 4:02 PM, as he’s dying to read what I’ve been giggling about. In this one, Karen goes to the dump and meets Philip Seymour Hoffman, reincarnated.
I’m sure you all are diligently reading our next book club pick: The Anomaly—details TBA.
And, on Frenchly this week, we’ve got some great stuff you might not have seen yet: a Black walking tour in Paris that moves people to tears; a review of the amazing James McAvoy as Cyrano de Bergerac; a Best Baguette of NYC Contest and Grand Finale; a guide to day tripping on a budget around the south of France and more.
To watch: Ok, so Catherine Rickman just reviewed this wonderfully strange sounding new French show on Netflix. It’s about time travel and a mysterious death. It’s also young and hip, so make sure you’re feeling less like Judi Dench and more like Emma Mackey.
And, if you haven’t seen it yet, my older son and I went to see The Duke the other night at a theatre—our first movie out together since March of 2020. Broadbent is amazing. Have you ever heard him read Winnie the Pooh? The best, no matter what age you are.
To cook: I was so moved by this piece about Emily Meggett, an 89-year-old chef and cookbook author from South Carolina. When I am her age, I am going to leave my side door open and cook for ten every day, too. Heaven knows, if I could possibly do it now, what with inflation costs and everyone’s struggle to put food on the table, I would. My friend Selina and I compare our food shopping bills every so often and we are in total shock at how much it’s costing right now to feed our families—and my older son eats two dinners, one at actual dinner time, another at 9:30 PM!! I buy two bottles of milk a week!
I am going to try Meggett’s recipe for Hoppin’ John this weekend. I love black-eyed peas. If I have some extra, I’m going to bring some to my (dear friend) and neighbor who just had Covid.
Ok, send me a line—I like it when you do, even if you tell me what a knucklehead I was in my last Le Weekend. Dialogue is always good. And I love hearing about what you’re cooking. Food can be our best way to faire the viaduc, after all.
Did you get forwarded this email? Sign up here on our homepage at the sign-up widget to receive this newsletter every Friday in your inbox–I’ll give you news, films, food, books, stories and more every Friday afternoon to help you plan and enjoy your weekend!
If Le Weekend is going in your junk or spam or promotions box, please add us to your contacts by clicking on the address and hitting “add contact” or by dragging “Le Weekend” into your regular box, so you don’t have to hunt for it each week.
If you have missed any of my Le Weekends or are new to this newsletter, or want to go find a TV show or a podcast or a singer or a movie or a recipe I had in one, they are (mostly, I am often behind!) all here on Frenchly.us.
And to advertise with us, contact our great sales team here.