Posts Tagged France

Salade Niçoise

8 September 2011

Salade Nicoise

The Salade Niçoise [nee-SWAHZ] originated in Nice, a Mediterranean city in Southern France. So it’s probably no surprise that it’s infused with subtle reminders of Provence and the sea. There are dozens of ways to make this salad, so the information below should be used more as a guideline than as a recipe. Adapt the ingredients in creative ways according to your personal taste — but do at least try the anchovies! Serves two.

Ingredients

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 TBS minced shallot

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 TBS fresh parsley, minced

2 cups mixed young greens (or any salad leaves, liked Boston lettuce), washed and hand-torn into large pieces

2 small waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold), boiled, peeled, cut into wedges

1 hard-boiled egg, cut into wedges

1 cup cooked green beans (can be from a can, in a pinch)

1 large tomato, cut into wedges

1 can (8 oz) oil-packed tuna, drained

6 oil-cured olives (preferably niçoise, but Kalamata would work)

6 anchovy fillets

 

Directions

In a small bowl, make vinaigrette by combining vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper and whisking together while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Toss the potatoes in the vinaigrette until coated. Arrange a bed of lettuce in a couple of shallow bowls or on a platter. Divide up the ingredients and add potatoes, egg, green beans, tomato wedges to the bed of lettuce. Top with tuna, olives, and anchovies. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on top of salad and pass around the rest. Voila! Bon appétit!

PrayerWalk Paris — Walk 1 (Sneak Peak)

7 September 2011

Notre Dame, ParisThe Historic Heart of Paris

Ile de la Cité & Ile St. Louis

Summary of Area

It is thought that Paris began around 250 BC as a primitive Celtic fishing village on Ile de la Cité, a little island in the middle of the Seine. Ile St. Louis, the other island in the Seine, is tree-lined and picturesque these days but was a swampy pastureland prior to development efforts in the 17th century. Today, Ile St. Louis houses one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods of Paris. Enjoy centuries of natural and man-made history as you walk from the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame to King Louis IX’s intimate royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle.

Key Facts

      • Starting Point: Point Zéro (metro: St. Michel; Cité)
      • Finishing Point: Palais de Justice (metro: Cité)
      • Days to Avoid: None
      • Length of Walk: 1 mile 1/2
      • Time Needed: 3 hours

1. Point Zéro

Point Zéro (also Kilomètre Zéro) is a circular bronze plaque on the ground about 30 yards from the central doorway of Notre-Dame that marks the geographical center of Paris. It is also the spot from which all highway distances in France are measured. The equestrian statue to the right as you face the church is of Charlemagne (“Charles the Great”), known as the first Holy Roman Emperor. Catholicism was the “politically correct” religion of the French people until the Revolution in 1789.

 

2. Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Free admission; church open daily; hours vary depending on day of the week: 8:00 am-6:45 pm weekdays, 8:00 am-7:45 pm weekends. Free English tours available. Visit early in the morning when the cathedral is at its brightest and least crowded. Free organ concert on Sunday afternoons. Website: www.notredamedeparis.fr

It took 170 years to create the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame de Paris, with its flying buttresses, rose windows of stained glass, 295-ft spire, two massive towers and host of gargoyles. The colorful windows were designed to tell Bible stories in pictorial form to an illiterate populace.

Kings and emperors were crowned and blessed in Notre-Dame. It was here in December 1804 that Napoleon took the imperial crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII and laid it on his own head, as depicted by Jacques-Louis David in his painting Coronation of Napoleon, which now hangs in the Louvre.

Notre-Dame is designed in the shape of a Christian cross, with the altar where the crossbeam intersects. The cathedral can hold up to 10,000 people and often does so when hosting classical music concerts. The South Rose Window depicts Christ in the center, surrounded by virgins, saints, and his twelve apostles while the North Rose Window pictures the Virgin encircled by figures from the Old Testament.

Prayer Points:

  • For the warmth of the Gospel to envelop Parisians who have only known the coldness of an impersonal religion.
  • That a genuine, transforming encounter with Christ would replace ritual and religiosity.
  • That the complete story of Christ would be preached: that the hope of his resurrection might replace the sadness of his death.
  • That the spiritual walls of stone and gates of iron that have separated a “religious” people from their Savior since the Middle Ages would be broken down.

Point to Ponder: Sitting in one of the hundreds of wooden chairs in the nave, feel the coldness of the stone and how far away God seems among the gilt and statuary. This is the god of millions of Parisians: a distant, cold and impersonal deity.

Take a Break: The café directly to your right as you exit the cathedral is a wonderful place to sit and reflect on what you’ve just seen. It’s called Aux Tours de Notre-Dame and though pricey – as are all cafés in Paris – you can enjoy a good cup of coffee and a sweet snack that will help you through the rest of your sightseeing. And you’ll need energy, especially if you plan on climbing to the top of the towers. This side street is a great place to buy postcards, too.

Tip: Candles in Churches. In visiting the many churches of Paris, you may be tempted to buy some candles to burn. Before you do, consider that – though they look pretty – Catholics consider candles an integral part of their sacred ritual of praying to saints and to Mary.

3. Towers of Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Admission: €8 adults, €5 ages 18-26 (must meet certain conditions) and seniors, children under 18 are free. Tower entrance covered by museum pass but no bypass line for pass holders. Open daily 9:30 am-7:30 pm, with seasonal variations. To avoid crowds, arrive before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm.

To get to the top of the towers of Notre-Dame, you must climb 387 spiral stone steps that get narrower as you get closer to the top. The reward for such painful labor is a breathtaking view of Paris. The towers are 246 feet high and the main bell, called the “Emmanuel” was last rung in 1944 to celebrate the liberation of France.

Gargoyle Fact: As you look out over Paris, notice the eerie stone creatures that are also gazing down on the city and have been doing so for centuries. These gargoyles are meant to represent souls caught between heaven and earth. Their main practical function, however, is as rain spouts.

Take a Break: Square Jean XXIII, behind the cathedral, is a delightful place to eat a picnic lunch, to read, or to watch people.

4. Ile St. Louis

Charming, enchanting, and picturesque, Ile St. Louis is quintessential Paris. Among the attractions of this quaint little island are the 17th century hôtels, cafés, chic restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques that line its main street, St.-Louis-en-l’Ile. The wealthy and the famous have resided here for centuries. The best way to view this tiny island may be to wander through the streets without any specific trajectory.

Lines at Berthillon can stretch around the block

Tip: There’s a post office here that may be a convenient place to buy stamps for your postcards. Ask for stamps for the United States:“Des timbres pour les Etats-Unis, s’il vous plait”. Show them your postcards so they know what the stamps are for. Try your French but they will probably respond to you in English.

Take a Break: Berthillon, an ice cream parlor on Ile St. Louis, is famous for having the best ice cream in Paris. Their selection includes over 70 varieties. Order a single-scoop (“Un cornet seul”) or a double (“Un cornet double”). Note that eating ice cream in-house is usually more expensive than ordering to go. Berthillon, 29-31 rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 75004; Open Wed-Sun 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Closed Mon, Tue, and August.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

7 September 2011
"Point Zero"

Point Zero in front of Notre Dame

In celebration of this blog’s one-year anniversary, here is a reminder of the site’s reason for being. This post was first published on September 1, 2010.

I looked down at my calloused and blistered feet and thought with a bit of sarcasm, “So these are the beautiful feet of those who bring good news! God has a sense of humor.” I’d just walked and prayed over what seemed like every inch of Paris.

Paris was no stranger to me – it was the land of my birth and childhood. My missionary parents had moved to France from the States before I was born and we’d lived there until I relocated to the U.S. for college. Now I’d returned to France for the summer not just to see old friends and enjoy the food but to spend some time praying over the city I loved so much. My goal was to walk and pray in each of Paris’ cultural and historical districts over a two-week period.

As I walked the streets of Paris, I felt the Lord directing my thoughts and showing me how to pray. I met God in strange places there: I thought I would find Him in the magnificent cathedrals, but He was made a beggar there – a statue with downcast eyes and upturned palms, with a sign asking visitors to spare four euros for the upkeep of the sanctuary. I thought He would be far away from the red light district, but that is where I felt the need for Him most strongly. He is close to the broken-hearted.

This prayerwalking journey was the inspiration behind PrayerWalk Paris, the first in a series of Christian guidebooks that weave a spiritual dimension into the act of sightseeing. Prayerwalking changed the way I see Paris and Parisians, the way I see God, and also the way I see myself. I was hooked. When I “prayerwalked,” I looked like an ordinary person on the outside, but inside I felt like a superhero.

Other (Sinfully Delicious) Uses for Ganache

16 April 2011

Chocolate Truffles

Got leftover ganache from the French profiteroles?

NOT A PROBLEM!!!

Once ganache has cooled and solidied, roll an amount the size of a large marble into a ball. Then dip in your choice of topping: bitter cocoa (traditional), crushed nuts such as almonds or walnuts, shredded coconut, cocoa and cayenne pepper — let your imagination be your guide!

Leftover truffles can be refrigerated up to a couple of weeks or frozen for about a month.

 
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry

If ganache has solidified, bring it to a liquid state again by putting it in a “bain-marie” or water bath. Simply take a small pot and fill it about 1/4 of the way with water. Then place a heatproof bowl or other container in the pot, being careful that the sides of the bowl are high enough that the water from the pot will not boil up into the bowl. 

Turn on the heat to medium-low, bringing the water slowly to a boil. Stir the chocolate regularly with a whisk until it has melted completely. The water and chocolate should never mix. Hold each washed strawberry by the stem, and dip! Place dipped strawberries on a sheet of wax paper for a couple of hours so that chocolate hardens. Bon Appetit!

Lentils and Love

22 March 2011

I wish I could attach a “scratch-n-sniff” plug-in so you could get a whiff of the heavenly aroma wafting through our kitchen right now.

Mom and I are making lentil soup. Athough this may not sound very exciting, we are cooking up memories to last a lifetime. The windows are open for the first time this season, letting in the fresh spring breeze, birds are chirping cheerfully, our Korean neighbor is kneeling over her vegetable garden, and I’m enjoying learning from my mother how to fix this simple and delicious dish.

As the lentils simmer on the stove, I’ve been thumbing through the 456-page tome on French cooking that I received yesterday and came across this beautiful quotation by Chef Henri Faugeron:

“If the science of nutrition is an act of the mind, the art of nourishing one’s neighbor is above all an act of love.”

An example is given of a prominent French chef of the early 1900s whose friend, author Marcel Proust, often came to dine. The chef would fix grand meals for the writer in exchange for one of his fabulous stories. And once, when Proust was out of sorts and had no appetite, the chef made it his mission to entice him by making a special omelet stuffed with fresh, minced truffles cooked in cream sauce. It worked: Proust devoured the meal and was full of gratitude towards his friend.

What a wonderful concept! Food as a way of sharing love with a friend, a neighbor, a loved one. Those of us who love cooking sharing with those who do not or have not. Those who love eating filling our hearts with contentment as we watch them taking pleasure in the food we’ve prepared.

How blessed we are. Every day we have the opportunity to share this little act of love with one another.

Lord, help me cherish today. Help me to be thankful for a nose that can smell, a palate that can taste, ears that can hear, eyes that can see, and a mind and hands that can work together to make something nutritious to eat and to share.

(Click here to see our French lentil recipe)

The Perfect Cheeseboard Series: Selecting the Cheeses

18 January 2011

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” asked Charles de Gaulle, French general and president.

It’s true: the French are nuts about their cheese. They’ve elevated the humble cheese almost to the state of national religion. The “cheese course” in a French meal is a source of pride for the hostess and sometimes a way of subtly showing off.

And because I’m part French and mad about cheese, I’m going to blog on the art of creating the perfect cheeseboard (and creative ways to use the leftovers). Here are the four essential steps: (1) Selecting the cheeses, (2) Choosing the breads, (3) Picking the accompaniments, and (4) Presenting the whole.

Clockwise from lower left: Blue, Brie, Boursin, Cheddar

1. Selecting the Cheeses.

Picking cheeses for a cheese board is not unlike arranging a bouquet of flowers. You should decide your theme or strategy before you start. Typically, you’ll want to display several cheeses in a variety of different colors, textures, tastes, and smells: a soft cheese such as Brie or goat, a firm cheese like an aged cheddar or smoked cheddar, a spreadable cheese like Boursin, and a nice old veiny cheese like a Roquefort. But you could also try:

  • a single theme cheese, like a blue, from different parts of the world
  • fewer types of a more expensive cheese or more varieties of cheaper cheeses
  • cheeses from different animals like cow cheese, goat cheese, sheep cheese and (if you’re up for an adventure) yak cheese
  • highlighting interesting local varieties

Selecting cheeses takes art and skill. Tempt your guests’ taste buds. Avoid boring.

Additional thoughts on selecting cheeses:

  • Typically a pound of cheese will feed about 5 people
  • Cheeses you would never see on a cheeseboard: parmesan, mozzarella, American, Colby, pepperjack. These cheeses are used more for cooking and office parties
  • Don’t worry about keeping the cheese cool. It’s best at room temperature
  • Unwrap the cheese before displaying it on the board

Whistle While You Rest?

20 October 2010

The French are striking again. Aaaah, ze French!

I remember one Christmas when the Eiffel Tower workers went on strike because they claimed the staff parking lot was too far away. The rest of the world would say, “Hey, you have an allotted parking space in Paris!” (If you’ve ever driven in New York City, you can relate) But, considering the Eiffel Tower is their #1 tourist attraction, the government said: “Voila! You may have ze new parking spaces!”

And there was the time when farmers went on strike because of wheat prices or tariffs or the price of French bread and “planted” an entire wheat field in the Champs-Elysees. Vive la France!

The current issue? The French government has considered moving retirement age from 60 to 62.  French workers feel that this action would violate one of their fundamental rights. What? Did you just chuckle? Ah, but you must understand that the French take their time off very seriously.

We work at work and we work at play.

In the United States we pride ourselves in our Protestant Work Ethic, typified by the “3-day weekend” – the power nap equivalent to a vacation. What do we do with this day subtracted from our workweek? We work. We do our spring-cleaning or attack projects in our yard and then “relax” by holding a cookout for our neighbors and playing football.

We work at work and we work at play.

The concept of a 3-day weekend is as foreign to the French as Wal-Mart, garage sales, or wearing deodorant.

I remember my childhood in France as a cycle of 7 weeks in school followed by 2 weeks of vacation. France is at its core a Catholic nation and every religious holiday must be celebrated. No objections from me and my school friends! Each holiday was a chance to get away, travel, relax, unplug and spend time with our family and friends, mostly over long meals.

What would Americans do with 2-week vacations every couple of months? Probably get bored. We’d have no idea what to do with so much down time – except perhaps get a second job.

Yet perhaps we should be better “resters.” The American Psychological Association says that one-third of the U.S. population experiences extreme levels of stress. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans experience high levels of stress 15 or more days per month.

Severe stress takes a toll on both body and soul that can only be countered with rest – true rest.

Two-hour lunches, 6 weeks of paid vacation per annum plus innumerable holidays may seem frivolous to us. We think, “Those French people – it’s a wonder they ever get anything done!” Yet they have an enjoyment of life virtually unparalleled in any other society.

Perhaps we can learn a little from their joie de vivre.

Prayerwalking: Becoming a Person of Secret Influence

1 September 2010
"Point Zero"

Point Zero in front of Notre Dame

I looked down at my calloused and blistered feet and thought with a bit of sarcasm, “So these are the beautiful feet of those who bring good news! God has a sense of humor.” I’d just walked and prayed over what seemed like every inch of Paris.

Paris was no stranger to me – it was the land of my birth and childhood. My missionary parents had moved to France from the States before I was born and we’d lived there until I relocated to the U.S. for college. Now I’d returned to France for the summer not just to see old friends and enjoy the food but to spend some time praying over the city I loved so much. My goal was to walk and pray in each of Paris’ cultural and historical districts over a two-week period.

As I walked the streets of Paris, I felt the Lord directing my thoughts and showing me how to pray. I met God in strange places there: I thought I would find Him in the magnificent cathedrals, but He was made a beggar there – a statue with downcast eyes and upturned palms, with a sign asking visitors to spare four euros for the upkeep of the sanctuary. I thought He would be far away from the red light district, but that is where I felt the need for Him most strongly. He is close to the broken-hearted.

This prayerwalking journey was the inspiration behind PrayerWalk Paris, the first in a series of Christian guidebooks that weave a spiritual dimension into the act of sightseeing. Prayerwalking changed the way I see Paris and Parisians, the way I see God, and also the way I see myself. I was hooked. When I “prayerwalked,” I looked like an ordinary person on the outside, but inside I felt like a superhero.