Whatever little time I have at the moment is spent almost exclusively drooling over the thought of calissons. That no doubt someone in my family has just eaten or is about to eat (if it’s my father as a side to coffee) because it’s Christmas time and calissons flow freely this time of year.
It’s more than six years since I’ve eaten one… Can’t… take… much… more!
(Image from here)
A few nights ago and without any reason apparent, I felt the most irresistible urge to read ‘L’écume des jours‘ again. I have read it only once before, when it was on our study list from French literature class – yikes, some fifteen years ago.
I loved the book at the time – it grabbed me from the first page: the name of the hero is Colin (which is very rare in France, maybe because it’s also the name of fish?), and the world he lives in is quirky, on-its-head, and fantastical. The kind of world you want to live in even if you’d have to have a daily fight with the eel that lives in your plumbing to stop it from eating all your toothpaste.
We studied ‘L’écume des jours’ in the same year as classic, beautiful (and let’s face it, often depressing and bleak) works by Victor Hugo, Balzac, Maupassant, and Zola. After those dinosaurs of French literature Boris Vian felt like the cheekiest breath of fresh air – the playful creator of a crazy world where two people fall madly in love and even death comes about more poetically (dying from a water-lily growing in your lung… Beautiful no?).
Wanting to immerse myself in Colin’s world again, I hunted for the book – easy to spot: white with a giant water-lily on the cover (fitting).
After two sweeps of our bookshelves I had to conclude I hadn’t in fact thieved my parents’ copy like I thought I’d done before moving here. And I was very disappointed with myself for not doing it.
I wanted to read a beautiful story of love, friendship and death by water-lily, and nothing but Boris Vian will do (internal dialogue as I shuffled away empty-handed feeling stroppy and despondent). But then I thought: I’ll just swipe it next time I visit… And sniggered a little bit. Would Boris Vian have condoned my behaviour? I’d like to think so.
PS: He also sings quirky funny songs. I love him.
(Image from here)
I am typically not very fond of anything taken from French and adapted into English (song or movie). I don’t really see the point: I got what ‘made it’ in its original form and why I liked it, so I am typically biased and assume I won’t like a remake or cover.
Part of it is indignation, part of it is snobbery (but it was so good in French! Why would you change it? Can’t people watch dubbed movies?). I know, it’s close-minded. I’m working on it. And I have to admit that despite my prejudice, my socks have been knocked off a few times by song covers (movies, maybe not so much). The Rakes’s taking on ‘Le Poinçonneur des Lilas’ is one perfect example. I love love love it, and the evocative poetry of 1950s underground Paris having morphed into London’s Piccadilly Tube station just works. Not even a shred of indignation I feel.
Now they just have to make a video as good as Serge Gainsbourg’s, because I’m afraid his is still hands down better.
My little nephew Scott just turned 5 (and it seems like yesterday I was on the phone with his father at 1:30AM Melbourne time getting updates on his birth, dancing around the kitchen in excitement/sleep-deprived delirium – does it go even quicker when they’re your own?). We’re working on a little project for him and we need the weather to seriously start cooperating because we can’t do it in rain, cold and wind.
Speaking of birthdays, it’s also my mother’s today. But I’m not working on a project for her involving paper and scissors… I know, I’m playing favourites… Sorry Maman…
So ‘Chemical Yeast’ in French translates to ‘Baking Powder’ in English. And when recipes call for half a packet (it’s understood it’s a packet of Alsa, which is a kitchen staple in France), it’s 5 grammes-ish.
The lightbulb just went off in my head. It’s a bit embarrassing considering I’ve lived here 9 years and brought home baker’s yeast countless times (direct translation, see?) and didn’t bother to investigate on Wikipedia until this morning, even when the resulting cakes and biscuits tasted a bit too much like bread.
(Image from here).