Monday, June 02, 2008

Food and thoughts

I did a little compilation of your contributions [thank you very much for that] for the CNN survey and it was really interesting to see how, for most of you, what best defines France's reputation is... food! I then could not help but posting what I had for lunch today when I met Elisabeth - one of the earliest visitors to PDP - who is currently in Paris at the moment (see a photo of her with Michael on the making of). Yes people, in Paris, on the Place des Vosges, at La Guirlande de Julie's, red snapper is served with its head! I did not eat the latter, but enjoyed the dish very much. Have a nice week.


  1. Ooh, don't you just love it when your food looks back at you??
    This looks likes a fabulous meal, Eric.

  2. Although this doesn't at first glance look all that appetizing, I will study it further to see what exactly it is! Like that glass plate especially!

  3. Hey Alexa -- congrats on GF!

    What a dramatic looking dish. Another beautiful shot Eric.

  4. Ooooh my goodness, Eric - that thing's looking at me! That is so Ew.

  5. I think I can make out some zucchini in the snapper "stuffing" but not sure what else is in there. And I'm still at a complete loss as to what the food is on the left side of the plate.

    Earlier today I happened to check Elisabeth's blog and was excited to hear that she was going to meet Eric and Michael for lunch! Really nice photo of Elisabeth and Michael. Eric I hope you had a stranger take a photo of all three of you!

  6. Hello Elisabeth! And Michael too - a lovely picture. I'd have preferred that on the main one instead of being given the 'evil eye' by a fish.

    Just heard really sad news that Yves St. Laurent has died in Paris today. I have loved the perfume and i still have some favourite shirts from many years ago, just gorgeous they are.

  7. Stop to speak about food Eric! I'm putting on weight just by looking at your pictures!! After confectioneries, a whole meal...I'm not hungry anymore.

    It looks so good. I hope you had a nice time there.

  8. Alexa, FUUNNNYYYY. On another subject, how many times have you won GF?

    Elisabeth, You are adorable. So happy to see you.

  9. That is so sad. I am really going to miss Yves St. Laurent. I loved his womens' Smoking (in Enlish: tuxedo). I always have one. I like to wear it to the opera. Didn't someone say in the CN survey that the big fashion houses in Paris are no longer run by French designers? I guess Yves St. Laurent is leaving behind some big shoes to fill.

  10. The house was bought by Gucci i think? I'll miss him too.

  11. Thanks, Carrie.
    Lois -- Not sure, but perhaps I have never mentioned my little OCD problem . . .

    Guille -- what do you mean, you're putting on weight? Haven't you heard? French women don't get fat. There's a whole book about it. :~}

    But I am so sad to hear that St, Laurent is gone. I am never without his Paris eau de parfum. Does anyone remember my May Day memory of him, when mon copain gave him a brin de muguet and he was so sweet about it? I have liked him from that moment. I think he was a genius in his way and can't imagine who will fill his shoes. Lois, I am absolutely green with envy over your smoking.

  12. Eric, I'm not a big fan of food that looks back, but sometimes you have to go with the flow. What interests me most about this photo is the plate - its shape and colors are so interesting and the shadow that it casts on the table is unique. David

  13. As long as you don't look him in the eye, he looks delicious. (I mean the fish.) I like that plate shadow, too, as David mentioned.

    I remember your story about St. Laurent and the brin de muguet, Alexa. A sweet story about one of the famous French artistes many of us were speaking of just the other day.

  14. His eye looks right at you -- don't eat me, don't eat me, chop! goes Eric.

    I know a former middle weight boxer from the Polynesian Islands. I have seen him eat many fish heads. We leave them on our plates, and he asks, aren't you going to eat that -- that's the best part. We tell him, be our guest.

    I remember your story about YSL Alexa. He sounds like a very nice man. I would have loved to have met him. You were very fortunate -- lucky girl.

  15. Okay, I can try lots of new things, but dinner that looks back at me. Ummm, nope!

    Thanks for sharing though, Eric! ( I think!) :)

  16. I probably shouldn't say this, but when I first saw the thumbnail of this, I thought it was roadkill - broken auto glass, scattered bits of creature parts, the works. Glad to see it's just lunch.

    That all says a lot more about living in Mendocino county than it does about Paris, I realize.

  17. Katie, in fact this is what we translate to red snapper but looks nothing like the real red snapper found in Florida (can you tell my bias?)! The stuff on the left is an aubergine tapenade if I remember correctly.

    Eric, it didn't strike me then, but if I've translated correctly "La Guirlande de Julie's" is "Julie's Garland"? A play on words perhaps associated with "Judy Garland"?

  18. Hi Petrea! You must be getting ready for bed as I get ready for work?


    I had to do a little more investigation on this Guirlande de Julie thing and discovered this in English from our friends at Wikipedia (French version here):

    The Guirlande de Julie is a famous poetic French manuscript.

    The salon of Madame de Rambouillet was one of the most important place of the middle of the XVIIth century. It was frequented by famous writers, dukes or "robins".

    One of those, the marquis de Montausier was in love with the daughter of Monsieur and Madame de Rambouillet. To charm her, he decided to give her an extraordinary present. He asked people who used to frequent the salon to write poems where each flower would sing the praises of Julie de Rambouillet. These poems were composed by people as famous as Georges de Scudéry, Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin, Valentin Conrart, Chapelain, Racan, Tallemant des Réaux, Antoine Godeau, Robert Arnauld d'Andilly or Simon Arnauld de Pomponne.

    Then the text was ornamentally written by the calligraphist Nicolas Jarry and the flower quoted in each poem painted by Nicolas Robert to make one of the most extraordinary manuscripts of the century and one of the hightlights of the "précieuse" society.

    It was offered to the young lady in 1641 but she only got married with Montausier in 1645.

    The manuscript is now conserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (département des manuscrits). It was first published in 1729 but several poems had already been published in several collections.

  19. I think the story is romantic, but I still prefer the Judy Garland reference instead...

    For those who are interested, here are details about the restaurant:

    75003 PARIS
    Tel : 01 48 87 94 07
    Situé dans le 03ème arrondissement.

  20. The table is beautiful, the glass plate fabulous, the presentation lovely.

    And, hey, I've had things looking at me that tried to totally consume me, so... I guess was just a little faster than Eric's dinner: I ain't dead yet!

    (By the way, Reine Guille la Petite, is it even possible for you to put on weight?)

  21. I really like the colors: the dark and light oranges with their shadows and the various shades of green., and yes, david and Petrea, me too, the swimming-pool-bottom-like patterns of light.

    I could see working on some of the skin on the head with chopsticks. To my lasting shame I was once served a large fish head (in an Asian country) but I wasn't too clear on what it was. "Hmm. What's this marble-sized, shiny-white, perfectly spherical thing down in here? Some kind of bone?" Then my horror as I discovered it was an eye as large as a human's that had turned milky white from the cooking. I left it uneaten in spite of it probably being "the best part." I wonder if I could succeed in working it out and lifting it past my lips today. I'm not too sure about that still. Salted squid guts? Not my favorite but doable. Crab brains? Also not my favorite, but, yeah, OK. Huge eyeballs? Nope (he writes, shuddering).

    Ah, Place des Vosges. It always brings to mind, as do so many places in Paris, Eunha Park (sorry for the inside reference). Speaking of which place (Place des Vosges) it looks like in the "making of" photo that Elisabeth had the pleasure of a kind of little, three-person PDP picnic complete with PDP I.D. tag. Lucky kid!

    Thanks Michael for the research. Romantic story indeed for a romantic place. So which one of you is Elisabeth going to walk down the aisle with in four years do you suppose?

  22. Now THAT is a wedding I must attend!

    (Hmm, I'll need a date, I suppose...that may be possible in four years...)

  23. Yes, Michael, we're winding down as you wind up. (Tall Gary, too, I'll bet. I think he and I are neighbors, but I don't think we've met. Have we, TG?)

    Michael, I love the poetry. A romantic story to contemplate as one strolls the cloister-like walkways of Place des Vosges.

  24. Jeff, you're up late. Spring fever?

  25. It's still early for me but I won't tell you what time I get up in the morning. Did I say morning? Hah!

    No, I don't believe we have met, Petrea. I would have certainly remembered you if you had stumbled against my cardboard box. But then, that might have depended on how much Sterno I had been drinking. (You can make a pretty good drink out of a portable heating can of Sterno, I had heard). Just joking.

    Perhaps we will someday have a chance to rectify what seems to be our unpardonable omission to yet meet.

    Jeff cracked me up with his date comment, although I can identify painfully well.

  26. Actually i'm not squeamish enough that i don't prepare fish - i do! I'll happily cut off their heads and remove their innards - yes me! There's something about serving it with the head on though - ugh. Once cooked, those eyes glaze over with an opaque, accusing stare....ugh.

  27. Eric - You forgot to mention that I also ordered the red snapper, but that I ate the whole thing! (JK) - It was a real pleasure to finally get to meet Eric and Michael face-to-face. We had a great time, good food, good wine, great conversation, and a fun photo session on Place des Vosges after lunch. Again, a very huge thank you to the two of you, Eric and Michael! And, Michael, thanks for all the good background on La Guirlande de Julie!

  28. Good morning Paris. It is 1:30 am in San Francisco and I am going to bed. I was watching three French films (recently released in San Francisco): "The Model Couple", "Flanders" (Festival de Cannes Winner), and "Innocence". They were all good and completely different from one another.

    Good morning UKLynn, I hope you are feeling better dear.
    I left out something from my "fish head" story:

    I know a former middle weight 'Polynesian Islands Champion' boxer, 'Keliti Finau', from 'Tonga'. I have seen him eat many fish heads. We leave them on our plates, and he asks, aren't you going to eat that -- that's the best part. We tell him, be our guest. BTW, He is also close friends with the King and royal family of Tonga. Those are other stories.

  29. Morning Lois! Thank you yes bit brighter today.

  30. Looks good!
    Never mention the price, ja, ha and what wine you drank...
    Just tasted a Chateau Petrous Gaia with 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon that put to nap. Good berry taste but strong.
    Wesbri from Miami

  31. Quite a striking photo, Eric! It reminds me of another difference between France and America -- presentation of a meal! Even in the markets, there is a difference. In France, it is not unusual to see meat that, shall I say, still looks quite like itself. America takes a more visually antiseptic approach, with meat neatly cut and packaged, minus eyes staring back or other features to remind one that this intended meal might have been Daffy, Nemo, or Wilbur. Of course, more food in France also tends to be fresh (not frozen or processed), and I highly suspect that the French are healthier for it.

    With all these thoughts I enjoy discussing, I can hardly believe that I missed the "deadline" for answering the CNN questions on one of my favorite topics -- France! I had to force myself to buckle down and do my writing for work first. But hey, tonight I may go back and answer some of those questions just for the fun of it. ;)

    Oh, and the meeting with Elizabeth and Michael sounds fabulous! Again, the way PDP brings people together is remarkable.

  32. It sounds like you had a wonderful afternoon, and I am very jealous - minus the fish head. I like the play on words explanation best too, although the story about the poetry is quite beautiful.

  33. Oh dear - I'm afraid I'll show my "unfrenchness" by saying that I don't find the snapper appetizing at all! I prefer my fish without heads, tails or fins, filleted, breaded and fried - in essence, looking nothing like a fish at all. Sigh. Sad but true. Perhaps I should eat with my eyes closed, and only TASTE the fish!

  34. Elisabeth you brave girl, I hope it was tasty! The colors in this photo make the whole scene bearable, otherwise it's just too scary...

  35. I have to give you a hard time now ... I believe there is a book out about blogging called "Nobody Cares what you had for Lunch"! I, on the other hand, will always want to know what someone had for lunch, especially you! Great photo. If that was crispy on the outside, I want some now.

  36. I m lucky I guess because heads, tails and fins don't put me off!

    Please don't talk about wine...I am dying for a glass but still have to drive my son to Jujitsu...

    You leave us no choice but fight for the SF (Silver Finger) now, because unless we elevate the first person to comment to PF (Platinum Finger) no one stands a chance of geting another GF.
    How do you do it? With a time machine :)?

  37. m.k. and Parisian heart, I have been watching "The French Chef with Julia Child" early films. The one called "The Whole Fish Story" teaches all about fish. She goes to a market in France (the meat was displayed as you have said) where she introduces us to a woman who has a Doctorate Degree in Culinary Arts and who specializes in fish. The doctor names all the fish on display for sale and demonstrates all the different ways you can fillet them and make them into creative designs, such as, pulling the fishes tail through it's mouth. I know it sounds weird -- it was a very unique design though.

    Eric, I love the way you photograph food. It is really out of the norm. If I ever wrote a cook book, I would definitely want you to photograph the food -- it always looks delectable.

  38. Rose...I'm thinking of a cool Pinot Grigio right now as I correct the 63rd student essay of the morning [final exams]. If I wasn't at school, I'd have a red "pen" in one hand and a Pinot in the other. :-)

  39. Oh, yes, and now that I am thinking relatively clearly, I'm glad Elisabeth and "les garcons de Paris" met and had a good time. I'll need to remember that restaurant. (Michael's Judie Garland fun is a good mnemonic! And the romantic story is great, too. A 17th century Heloise and Abelard saga.)

  40. I love seafood! :) I cant wait to go back to Paris someday!

  41. Lois, serving the fish with tail through its mouth is called "en colère" ou "enragé", angry or furious. Certainly because of the crazy look it gives.
    I have never been able to enjoy eating such a fish, wathever its taste was, silly, isn't.

  42. Completely irrelevant to today's post, but recalling previous comments about the passing of Yves St. Laurent: I just read that Bo Diddley died Sunday as well.

    Bo Diddley sang "You can't judge a book by looking at the cover."

    Yves St. Laurent perhaps expressed the exact opposite.

    Two very important figures in their own art forms.


  43. Here's one from my elementary school days: (cue music please):

    "Fishheads, fishheads, roly-poly fishheads

    Fishheads, fishheads, eat them up, yum!" Sorry... ;)

  44. Jeff -- I sincerely hope the hyper-romantic marquis de Montausier did not end up missing his good bits like poor Abelard! (Oui, Guille, c'est etudie pour que j'utilise le mot "bit")

    Where are you anyway, Guille?

    Michael -- thanks very much for that lovely piece of French literary lore.

    Rose -- can't account for GF (am the world's worst typist). Can see that it could easily become an obsession, though. Gorgeous here today, so will force myself to quit computer, leave work before midnight Paris time, and enjoy some fresh air.

    And Jeff -- your comparison of the great YSL and the equally great Bo Diddly was so well put.

  45. He he Pont Girl - that made me laugh out loud!

  46. BTW, I wonder if it's possible to buy these fab plates.

  47. did it again...two consecutive days of GF first and last! You are working hard at this GF thang! Go for the hat trick! ;-)

  48. Glad I made you giggle, Your Grace :)

  49. Pont Girl, I remember that. Dr. Demento used to play it on his radio show.

  50. It's a pity that chocolate or bacon can't look me in the eye while I'm about to eat one of them, as I'd be down a couple jeans sizes if they could.

    Amy :)

  51. well everything is food is gonna be so delicious and this picture looks like