March 25, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
This afternoon I am dusting off my cowboy boots and packing up my sunglasses, sunblock, and Levi’s. I am singing Lyle Lovett in my head, “You can have my girl, but don’t touch my hat,” and Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Lyle Lovett’s got his hand right up on my thigh.” Why? Because this weekend I am flying to Texas for a retreat with the entire Frenchly and French Morning Team. We are going to a dude ranch outside of San Antonio where we will get together in person for the first time since Covid began and talk about the ever-evolving topic of how to improve our work for you, our readers. We will also ride horses, eat enchiladas, swim in a pool and engage in some suspicious “western activities” which may or may not involve doing the Texas two-step. What I might not be doing is the 6:30 AM runs behind my boss, Emmanuel, who ran the NYC marathon last fall.
This will be the first time I have been on a plane since Covid began and my second time in south central Texas. The last time I was there was 2008, when I was driving across the country to move to Los Angeles with my new husband. We ended up moving back to Maine when the recession hit, after the birth of our first son, in 2009. I blogged about that journey and then wrote about it (and how much I loved Texas) in my book, Made for You and Me.
Years ago, I was once on a dude ranch with my mother outside of Tucson in the Chiricahua Mountains. We flew from NYC together and, once we arrived at the ranch, it became quickly apparent that it was all wrong: Denny, the cowboy who rounded up the guests and horses, was drunk all of the time, the horses mistreated. Soon, we beat it back to Tucson where we ate prickly pear syrup on crêpes and went to Saguaro National Park. I do remember one thing from both that trip and being in Texas in 2008: the light in the western part of America this time of year is unlike anything anywhere else in the world–the way it hits the mountains and dry scrubby landscape, the way the nights get cold, the days hot and dry. My inner cowgirl is stirred just thinking about it.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
Over the last month, as the war in Ukraine has erupted and continued, Frenchly has endeavored to bring you two things: both a French perspective on the war, and, also, we have given some space to our writer, Angelika Pokovba, who came to America from Ukraine when she was eight. First she wrote about rediscovering her Ukrainian roots; then she wrote a piece that named the western city of Lviv the “Paris of Eastern Europe.” And, today, we published her essay that posits that Ukraine may now come to be recognized as the heart of Europe. Taken together, these pieces are a personal portrait of the war and how it’s affecting one person’s family both back home in Ukraine and in this country. They are worth a read.
This week, we’ve got this fun interview with American expat food writer, David Lebovitz, about moving to France and assimilating into French culture; this really smart and shocking piece about how much less women in film make in France and the USA than men; a list of ten things to do (or dream about doing) if one were ever to go to the town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; a profile of a French expat actress I’d never heard of, Odette Myrtil, who had her own bistro in Pennsylvania; and a really helpful piece about some basic outfit changes for spring, inspired by the simplicity of French style.
Many of you were on our terrific book club Zoom meeting for The Art of Losing on Wednesday night. It was so great to see you. If you missed it, here is the video. I loved learning all about how a novel gets translated, from author and translator and Booker Prize judge, Frank Wynne.
If you want some lighter fare, these two videos, parts one and two, made by Andrea Meyer and Dan Davis captured some funny moments when Americans in, what is arguably America’s brainiest city, Cambridge, MA, were asked what they know about France. They are sweet diversion from the news and the faces of the people are just priceless.
And if you’re in the mood for more laughs and some binge watching this weekend (hello laundry folding!), Standing Up may be your ticket: From the creator of Call My Agent, Netflix brings us a new show about stand-up comics in France. Here’s Catherine Rickman’s review of it. In my opinion, it’s worth it just for the wonderfully fresh young actors.
My husband, Dan, has been turning us all a little Indianish on Sundays of late, spending the afternoons filling our house with the most amazing smells of chaat masala and coriander and turmeric as he cooks up paneers and dals. I’m on puri duty each Sunday. I won’t be around this Sunday to drop the little round flatbreads into the hot oil, but he is undaunted. He’s plans to forge ahead and make this Green Masala Chicken and some Indianish baked potatoes.
While I am gone, I have set up some cool pieces for you on our website next week: one funny one about the creative ways Harry Potter was translated into French (translation is now so fascinating to me since our book club this week); another about the French board game, Kapital; and another about the spring-green drink, chartreuse, and a gin cocktail to make with it. Check those out next week at Frenchly.us.
When I get back from Texas, I will have bluebells on my brain and some dusty boots to unpack. And then I will get back to the task of delivering the world to you, through a French lens.
But before I go, so many of you loved that Lili Boulanger piece of music I wrote about last week, “d’un soir triste,” that I want to give you one more from her. This one, appropriately for the vernal equinox, is called “D’un matin de printemps”—or, “a spring morning”—also written in that last year of her all-too-short life.
And if you need that Lyle Lovett song one more time before bed tonight, this video of the Texas Ballet Theater dancing to it is pure joy.
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