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Speaking Street Art À Gogo

Inimitable street artist Bansky wrote in Wall and Peace, “Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” and up and down the rue Dénoyez in the twentieth arrondissement in the Belleville neighborhood, you get palpable sense of this idea. The street is one big moving mural—illustrations, tags and collages cover the walls of buildings […]

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The Keeper of Secrets on the Field

A couple weeks ago I got into a cab (grey 2008 Toyota, three hubcaps, broken air conditioning) and the radio was on and it was the World Cup match between Germany and Portugal and the commentators were commenting as fast as they could in French about the defense strategy of the Germans when, twelve minutes […]

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Get Your Salon On, Enlightenment Style

Long before salons were a mecca of hair care products, swanky swivel chairs, and cosmetology services with mysterious and complicated names, the salon (beginning in the sixteenth century in Europe) was a hot spot for philosophical debates, intellectual discussions and general confabs of all sorts and traditionally—and quite exclusively—hosted by women in their homes. Not […]

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Devilled Smelts & Violet Soufflé: In the Kitchen with Alice B. Toklas

In Chapter Nine of The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, “Little-known French Dishes Suitable for American and British Kitchens,” there are more than fifty recipes including one for devilled smelts, a fish dish made with two kinds of mustard and anchovy paste, and a violet soufflé dessert doused with a substantial tablespoon of Kummel, a […]

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What Writers Eat In Paris When They Are Not Writing About Eating In Paris

Just in time for lettuce leaves and diets, January is high season in France for enjoying a slice or three of la galette des rois, or King’s Cake, made with flaky puff pastry and a rich filling of frangipane (with some variations on the recipe). Although the cake is officially for the celebration of Epiphany […]

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From Canvas to Café to Crown: The Inimitable Kiki of Montparnasse

For all of the bohemian brouhaha of 1920s Paris, a woman still had to wear a hat to be seated in the main room of the popular and posh brasserie La Rotonde. It follows that climbing up on tables to sing bawdy, comic songs in cabarets or posing nude for artists might not be the […]

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That Serendipity Is In Your Glass

One question that has never haunted me is if there’s a specific season or reason for drinking Champagne. In general, it seems that writers, the French, and French writers totally get this idea. One of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters threatens, “I’ll drink your Champagne. I’ll drink every drop of it, I don’t care if it […]

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The Altering Perspective I Like: An Interview with Michael Ondaatje

It’s September and everyone in Paris is diving into la rentrée littéraire; much more than just a catchy, catch-all phrase, it is a way of life that roughly translates as “a specific time in very late summer when all of France comes back after summer vacation to present, celebrate and otherwise promote newly published books […]

Posted in Aperitif, Interviews

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Quenelles, Curling Pins & Commas: Gertrude Stein’s Paris France

“Gertrude Stein is so fly,” a friend said over a cup of coffee the other day. It was hard to know how to respond to her and the best way seemed to go for a second cup. A lot has been said about the brilliant and formidable grande dame of modern prose over the past […]

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I Am Something Of A Tumbleweed

I Drifted Into Bookselling “Like many of my compatriots, I am something of a tumbleweed drifting in the wind,”  George Whitman, founder of Shakespeare and Company Bookshop,  told The Paris Magazine (first published by the shop in 1967). “I drifted into bookselling for no better reason than a passion for books except for the classical […]

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Even Her Feet Were Ravishing

It takes a special kind of person for whom you can toss together in the same sentence the words “gambol,” “Les Folies Bergères” and “poor girl from Saint Louis who at nineteen charmed and otherwise seriously seduced the art and theater scene in 1920s Paris with her seductive combination of beauty, sensuality, whimsy and physical […]

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The Whiz Bang in Your Sidecar

 Cocktails in Springtime Paris kkkkk Long before destination drinking had a moniker, Paris was already a hot toddy hot spot in the 1920s and 1930s. Drinks like the Whiz Bang, Green Hat, Sidecar, Blue Bird and Fog Horn were in circulation among the haute cocktail crowd and local lushes at places like the Ritz Paris, […]

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Crib Sheet for a French Tryst

A little lexicon to keep your dance card full.

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Glossary for an Apprentice Cammorista

A post-Capodanno apocalyptic linguistic debrief of common Camorristi terms from Napoli.

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Sugar Beet Liquor

In Possum Living, Dolly Freed writes beautifully about a childhood spent living frugally with her father on a half-acre lot just outside of Philadelphia. During this time, she mastered the complicated task of distillation, providing her readers with a recipe for basic moonshine must, as well as variations like dandelion wine and sugar beet liquor. Our […]

Posted in Aperitif, General

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The (World) Famous Tin House Martini

A classic drink for your holiday season.

Posted in Aperitif, General

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What Writers Drink In Paris When They Are Not Writing About Drinking In Paris

My friend Krista and I had just left Shakespeare and Company for drinks on the Île Saint-Louis, a hop, slip and a pratfall from the bookshop. It was the night for Vespers, not prayers at nearby Notre-Dame, but libations, the potent James Bond-martini-kind of Vesper. Three parts gin, one part vodka, a dash of Lillet […]

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The Executioner Takes A Coffee Break

Calamity and coffee go together and late-eighteenth century France was pretty much swimming in both.

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How to Speak French Like a Courtesan

Much more genius is needed to make love than to command an army.

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I am Salute and of the Umble Ear

Looking for an essay woman, bed soon.

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La Bibliothèque Mazarine

Borges wrote, “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library,” and he may have imagined it to be something like La Bibliothèque Mazarine.

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Marie Antoinette Wasn’t Here

Legends, like books and liquor, can be dizzying, sometimes dangerous and often addictive.

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Conversations in Capri

Political Correctness was intended to civilize language and attitude, however its neutrality can lead to a serious pathology for every art.

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A Renaissance of Beautiful Little Things

Where was Hemingway in all of this, you may ask? After frequently contributing to most of these magazines, he could be found frequenting the bars near their offices.

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The Book Club at Le Carmen

The principle is simple: bring a book you love and swap it.

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