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Paris Meets Brooklyn: The Global Reach of Contemporary American Dining

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Melt Restaurant 75017

French food is a powerful signifier of French culture, inspiring tourists and international foodies to travel to France to taste authentic ingredients and enjoy exceptional dining experiences.  In the last fifteen years, food critics and tastemakers agree that the global food business, which permits the regular importation and exportation of regional ingredients and encourages chefs to experiment with new techniques, has challenged the hegemony of French cuisine and dining.  Fabio Parasecoli and Mateusz Halawa’s new book  Global Brooklyn: Designing Food Experiences in World Cities (2021) recently asked food historians around the world to discuss how these new food-ways, honed in Brooklyn, New York, influence today’s cuisine.  I was pleased to participate in this fascinating study and I am sharing a section of my essay dedicated to the advent of Global Brooklyn in Paris. 

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Surprising Stories: Les Champs-Elysées, from Allée to Avenue

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Les Champs-Elysées with Christmas lights, Photo: Wendi Halet/Flickr

This year the city of Paris will be ready for the holiday season: the colored lights will illuminate one of the most  beautiful avenues of the world, adding a special allure inviting strollers (albeit safely distanced and masked) along the festive avenue. The Christmas market will be virtual and the crowds will wait to bring encouraged to ring in the New Year with restraint, but the Christmas light are a Parisian traditions, like the Tree in Rockefeller Center, inaugurating a  holiday season unlike any other. Strolling the Champs is a walk through French history that entices Parisians and tourists alike at every season. But did you know it was inspired by garden design? Read more

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Les Potirons, France’s History and Love of Pumpkins

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While pumpkins are generally associated with the Americas, and rightfully so, the French have a particularly strong affection for this New World vegetable. Although you will never find a pumpkin pie served for dessert in a French home, in autumn the country’s markets abound in every shape and size of pumpkin. Here is how this fondness of potirons came to be and a recipe for the preferred way for the French to consume pumpkins, in a velouté, a thick and creamy soup.

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Surprising Stories: Monet’s Water Lilies, from Giverny to the Musée de l’Orangerie

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With the arrival of spring blossoms and warmer weather, it is all the more challenging to be confined to our homes. It was the goal of many Impressionist artists to capture this moment of nature’s splendor and few achieved this as gloriously as Claude Monet. Dreaming of his radiant gardens can offer some respite from our newly restrictive daily lives, especially his meditative water lily panels. These masterpieces have made the Musée de l’Orangerie one of the most famous museums in Paris, however, few know that the museum would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Georges Clemenceau; then the Prime Minister of France and friend of Monet. This edition of our Surprising Stories series reveals how Clemenceau, one hundred years ago today, succeeded at this impressive feat.

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Surprising Stories: Dining at Versailles: What happened to the Leftovers?

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Antichambre du Grand Couvert de la Reine ©Chateau de Versailles

Louis XIV was the most conspicuous diner at Versailles.  His meals represented the bounty of France, and his appetite was considered a sign of his good health and the well-being of the nation. Dining was a ceremonial occasion and was regulated according to a strict etiquette established during King Louis XIV’s reign.  In the latest of our Surprising Stories series, we join the Sun King at his extravagant evening meal and then see what happened to the leftovers of his copious feasts.

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