Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Yannick Noah vs. the "f" word...

It's hard to turn on the radio at the moment without hearing the newest song by France's most popular celebrity, Yannick Noah. "Hello", his duet with Asa, is the newest release from his album, Frontières. As I find myself singing along to the catchy, sentimenally PoPpy chorus, I'm once again struck by what it means to be a mother.

Is is just me or are there alot of songs on the radio at the moment that have the 'f' word somewhere in the title or lyrics? In France, nothing is censored, so instead of the more child-friendly version of Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight I'm lovin' you", we get the "Tonight I'm f@#$in' you" version. Pink weighs in with her "F"ing Perfect", and Cee-Lo Green says "F you" here in France, not "Forget You". I'm pretty sure these songs are censored or bleeped in the States, aren't they?

Anyway, the little ladies sing happily along whenever these songs come on the radio, blissfully unaware (hopefully) of what they are actually singing. Don't get me wrong, I've been known to use the "f" word in all of its glorious permutations on occasion(s). However, I come from an era where songs like George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" were banned or censored by most radio stations and where the only way you could hear Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" was to go out and by the album. God, am I old or what?

So although Yannick's new song may seem a little cheesy and not something I would normally have on my personal playlist, the mother in me finds it refreshing. In a world where, thanks to Rhianna, my kids think the saying goes 'sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me', a little light pop can't really do too much damage, can it?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Books for Francophiles....

Here's a round-up of new books all about France, some brand new, some new in paperback. This time of year there are also all the new guidebooks and accommodation guides coming out, and I was pleased to see that so many of my favourite books about France are now available in Kindle editions, like Almost French and The Elusive Truffle. Although I haven't taken the plunge yet (I'm still an old-fashioned hold-the-book-in-the-hand kinda girl), it's great to see the choices available now for those that have gone over to the other side.

As usual, let me know if I've missed any good ones!

Paris Was Ours: Thirty-two Writers Reflect on the City of Light by Penelope Rowlands

French Leave: An Irishwoman's Adventures in Normandy by Liz Ryan

Our Man in Paris: A Foreign Correspondent, France and the French by John Lichfield

Cycling, Wine, and Men by Nancy Brook

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious- and Perplexing- City by David Lebovitz

Friday, December 10, 2010

Guillaume Grand- Toi et Moi....

Usually at this time of year, it's Wham's Last Christmas that's stuck on constant replay in my head, but this year, it's this little diddy. Not Christmassy at all, but oh-so-lovely-French-Pop. I guess since I liked Gregoire and Raphael, it was inevitable that I'd like this....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wet, Wet, Wet...

Could be the 80's band or my local 3-day forecast. Rain Is All Around, Wishing I Was Dry, Hold Back the River, Feels Like I'm Walking on Water...

It's a rainy, grey day, and national strikes are looming... must be Fall in the Languedoc.

How quickly the days change from being sun-drenched and rosé-soaked, to wet, windy, chocolat chaud-like weather. I think the flip flops may have seen their last day in the sun.

The lawn is scattered with chestnuts and walnuts, a new leak has appeared in the roof, and my finger rests poised above the central heating 'on' switch. The cool tiles which are so lovely to walk on in the summer now make slipper wearing compulsory. Makes me almost yearn for carpet. Almost.

But still. The sun, as it has wont to do in this part of France, will probably put in another strong performance before the end of the month, making me AND the garden grateful for this abundance of wet stuff we are getting now.

That's my silver-lining mantra for today, anyway. And it is sweet to see how excited the little ladies get when they get to use their wellies and umbrellas!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomi Ungerer...

I fell a little bit in love this morning. While looking through the little ladies' library books, I came across a slim paperpack titled 'Emile' about a heroic octopus with nostalgic tendancies. The story was sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, the kind of story that's hard to find these days for my 8 and 6 year-old.

I found it hard to believe that this was just an ordinary children's book, so I read the author bio at the end, and lo and behold, this was not written by just any old children's author, this was written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, an award-winning author, illustrator and designer. So I opened the vast encyclopedia called Google to find out more.

As well as writing and/or illustrating more than 30 children's books, including The Mellops Go Flying, Flat Stanley, and Moon Man, he also produced illlustrations for The New York Times, Esquire, and Harper's Bazaar.

Ungerer also produced anti-Vietnam posters, wrote adult fiction with a heavy emphasis on eroticism, and designed various things, from film posters and political cartoons to an aqueduct in Strasbourg. Hellooo, over-achiever!

Born in Alsace, he lived through the German occupation of the region, and later moved to the States, then Cananda, and now resides in Ireland. Although I haven't yet checked out any of his erotic fiction or political illustrations, I think Tomi Ungerer sounds like an interesting man indeed.

If you haven't had a chance to read any of his children's books (although he is French, most of the books are written in English), I would definitely recommend them, as much for the sweet stories as for the illustrations. Ungerer has been described as 'the most famous children's book author you've never heard of', which I guess was true for me until today. It seems like alot of his children's books are no longer in print, so it may mean a trip to the library, but I promise it will be a worthwhile trip!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A village full of recipes...

You don't have to go far in my little village before you are offered a recipe of one kind or another. Whether it's in the boucherie while you are buying a cut of meat, or at the weekly market buying artichokes, or while you are having a chat with one of the local hunters you pass on the street, chances are somewhere along the line you will be given a recipe for something.

Like the weather in England, food is the subject that more often than not figures in almost every conversation I have with the locals. People talk about what they've eaten or what they are planning to eat as a matter of course. Who needs an online meal planner when a simple walk through the village will produce enough inspiration for a month of dinners?

I've just returned from my after dinner walk with the dogs. As I walked through the village with the sun setting on yet another sweltering day, I noticed the figs ripening in the trees and the towers of runner beans bursting in the alotment gardens. A few apricots remain in trees that haven't been harvested yet, and the smell of barbeques wafted on the air like Autumn chimney smoke.

But little did I know that further ahead there was a bikinin-clad, garden-watering grandmother lying in wait to give me inspiration for tomorrow night's dinner....

As I passed the grandparent's house of one of the little ladies' friends, I noticed Martine watering her borders wearing her lime green and black spotted bikin. She gave me a wave and made me promise not to tell her husband, Francois, that she was seen watering half-naked. We got to talking about swimsuits and bikinis, and how hard it is to stay slim, which of course naturally steered the conversation to food.

I mentioned that we'd just finished off our dinner with camembert with sage leaves cooked on the barbeque and eaten with a whole baguette, which of course prompted her to give me one of her recipes: half a baguette with tomato and camembert, topped with pruneaux, and grilled gently on the barbeque.

We both patted our stomachs, made little miam miam noises, and waved goodbye. Guess what we will be having for starters tomorrow night.....

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Rolling Stones in Cannes...

The Cannes Film Festival starts next week, and while I have been there, done that, I'd love to go this year to see the Rolling Stones, who are coming to promote their new documentary 'Stones in Exile'. The documentary covers the making of their legendary 1972 album 'Exile on Main Street', which is set for re-release next month.

The premier of the documentary is part of an add-on event called Director's Fortnight which runs in conjunction with the main festival. Almost like the Stones will be party crashing, how very fitting..... The album was made on the Riviera while the Stones were on a self-imposed exile from the UK taxman. Can't wait to see the documentary, but bummed I can't see them in Cannes, where rumour has it they may do a little impromptu performance.

Rock and roll on the Riviera with the Rolling Stones. I'll probably be mopping my floors. Oh well, a girl can dream, can't she?