I’m not ready to forego chocolates or long-stemmed roses. But a few new books can also get the endorphins going.
Last week I had opportunity to attend several book-related events in Paris. Earlier I described the talk given by Patricia Wells and Ann Mah at The American Library in Paris on the occasion of their new publications: The French Kitchen Cookbook by Wells, and Mastering the Art of French Eating by Mah. The authors interviewed each other and for the audience it was like eavesdropping on their conversation. They even disclosed their favorite comfort foods. For Patricia, it’s homemade pizza. And when she says homemade, she means it: not only do she and her husband make their own sauce, but also the dough and even the sausage. For Ann, it’s toast. It was fascinating to hear them answer questions ranging from important to mundane. Ann Mah wrote this account of the evening.
The book celebrations continued the next night when Robin and John Katsaros hosted a book signing for Kristin Espinasse and Ann Mah. Robin set a relaxed tone from the get-go when she conducted a short interview with the guests of honor. They spoke about the challenges and rewards of writing. Kristin Espinasse has earned a devoted following with her French Word-A-Day snippets about living, loving, and simply getting by in rural France. It’s a surefire way to have fun while learning the language. Sometimes she cleverly integrates vocabulary lessons with hot topics, such as when she referenced L’Affaire Hollande to introduce une braguette (zipper, fly) in the sense of Zipper Politics. Her anecdotes are often humorous and drawn from her own experiences. In fact Kirsten described the book celebration in an entry that introduced her readers to the term Café Littéraire. I’m looking forward to reading Kirstin’s Blossoming in Provence and awaiting her next book, First French Essais, which will be available soon.
I enjoyed talking with these writers and other Francophiles. Among the guests were Karen Fawcett, the tour-de-force behind Bonjour Paris, an online newsletter that’s chock full of useful information about Paris, Anne and Kirk Woodyard from Music and Markets, who had me wishing I could join the music and markets tour they’re leading to Aix-en-Provence for the Easter Festival, the French property agent Adrian Leeds, Jane Bertch of La Cuisine Paris who is cooking up a storm with classes and market tours, and Mary Winston Nicklin, Web Editor of France Today which is one of my favorite magazines. And these are just a few. A view of the Eiffel Tour glittering on the hour added sparkle to the already festive mood.
What made a deep impression on me is the friendliness of the writers and other Francophiles whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet. There’s an eagerness to share opinions, new discoveries, and the spots that remain unchanged to everyone’s relief.
I’m excited to start digging into the new books that I’ve collected. It’s a perfect activity for this wintry day, especially when accompanied by chocolate. Happy Valentine’s Weekend!