Monday, June 28, 2010

Fente: Femme The idea

The "fente" which means slit or crack in French was a series I started while working on the larger theme of "L'intime" or the "intimate" . I found the plaster walls of my studio crumbling off and I found the flaking pieces really kind of beautiful.

I started in the direction of the "beauty of the old and useless object".

I have always liked the aged surface on a wall, a house , the soft colors and the wabi sabi of decay. (Of course, it is seen differently when it is happening to YOU). Yes, I am of the "belle age" as we euphamistically call it here.

Nevertheless, this series has to do with the "invisibility"of women of a certain age... but also to do with the symbol of women: the "opening" . I will show this idea in several series to come.

Funnily, after I completed this series, I realized that I saw a 'standing woman" in almost every piece, but that had not been my intention. Do you see her?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mangoes, Mint and the Raptor

My husband who is really interested in having "real" food, found this idea in one of Nigel Slater's books, the one that's called THE KITCHEN DIARIES.

This is an idea for a really simple summer meal with lots of flavor. When I say "real", we are talking food as you find it, not mixed with additives. I know that is hard to do these days but do it , you'll be proud of yourself!

Here is how it goes:

Cook a cup ( 2 servings) of bulgar wheat in boiling salted water. Nigel says to just soak it in cold water but I was skeptical about that and cooked it like I have always done. Then I drained the bulgar under cold water to use as a cold salad.

We then chopped up the leaves from about 8 sprigs of mint from the garden and some parsley. A ripe mango was diced and added to the mix along with a few slurpy slugs of good fruity olive oil. Next and last, some salt and pepper.

We ( husband and wife cooking team today) served it with a couple of kinds of ham we were trying for comparison, one italian and one french ( I still like the cured ham from Italy better than cooked ham but it is personal preference.)

Of course, a really crusty bread is a welcome addition to the meal.

While we were sitting on the terrace a sparrowhawk came down and plucked a small bird right out of the olive tree on the hill behind us.

Talk about fresh food!!....

I suppose ,every creature has his own take on what makes a good summer lunch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perroquet and Dem Bones

The tool we use for trimming the trees is called a "Perroquet" because the end of it looks like a parrot's beak. It's a handy dandy tool and it saves hundreds of euros in gardner's fees. Today was bay tree number two's day for a haircut. It is sort of a summer ritual, and then I saved some good leaves to put in the sauces of winter.

Hey Ho, what's cooking?

Well here is the best idea I have for today. Eat the chicken, save the left-overs( if there are any) for chicken salad the next day and boil the bones and left over bits to make the best broth in the world.

Let the chicken carcas simmer on the stove for two days until all the tasty goodness leaches out of "dem bones". Keep topping it up with enough water to cover it.... but you know all this. Now use the broth before you even have to freeze it for your risotto on day THREE.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Treeless Mountain: the film

I am still haunted by a quiet minimalist film that I saw last week called "Treeless Mountain"by director So Yong Kim.

Kim,born in Korea (and probably raised in the states), takes us back to her home town in Korea where she has found the most astounding non actor children (5 yrs and 7 yrs. old) to play two girls who are abandoned by their mother. The mother must leave them to live with relatives while she looks for a means of support.

The director doesn't always dwell on the story line which is a simple enough plot.... but the development of the characters was enough to keep us mesmerized. And these two young actors are just simply unforgettable.

Sometimes Kim showed us an evocotive scene of clouds or a "still" landscape to set the mood and help us pause in the story,to set the sense of time passing.

Once, she filmed the girls and their grandmother at a side angle so we missed the action almost entirely. But that somehow was enough to let us in on the intimacy of the situation... as if we could see them without them seeing us. This was arresting....almost a documentary style which I have never seen done.

There are many original, sharply observed details like this throughout the sensitively cadenced story.

Because of the techniques the director used with the children (see" the making of" in dvd), the girls performances were skillfully unsentimental and we could distance ourselves a tiny bit from the ache of their situation.

Despite their circumstances, this film left me oddly hopeful, and I am still, days later... with those little girls.

Fête de Musique

The Fête de Musique in France takes place all over the country on the night of summer solstice.

Anyone with a voice, a musical group and/or an amplifier can take to the streets to try to find an audience. To me this sounds like a nightmare.. but this year I went with a few pals to sit in Place Garibaldi and sip a few glasses of rosé and have a listen.

Suddenly, coming down the street , an amazing thrill of drum rolls and a motley group appeared out of nowhere, 20 or so youngish drummers male and female all pounding away to the signals of an energetic and charismatic leader.

I wanted to follow them ANYWHERE.

They were captivating. What is it about the trill of drums that is a primordial call to us all. Feet just won't stay still.

They passed into the distance with a pied piper trail behind them.... and the children continued to spin cart-wheels in the square.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer

I spent all morning trimming the "Sauce Lauriel" or bay tree. I have two more of these to do in the garden. There is still one spike sticking up from the meter the trees have grown this year. I will undoubledly have to get the ladder.

....a simple lunch today of penne mixed with fresh chopped mint from the garden, broad beans (favas) cooked till tender and mixed with olive oil, garlic and big dollops of fresh ricotta. In France you can eat really well , very inexpensively if you think about it ahead of time and eat in season. The favas and mint are summer fare. It was bliss sitting on the terrace. So far this June we are graced with a little breeze.