French language and culture commentary from the U.S. capital

‘Bon App’’

Finding Red in a White Wine Capital

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In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, a cocksure Ewan McGregor turns down a nice-looking pour with, “White wine — never really seen the point of it.” Despite its cheeky air, the quip conveys a preference that many probably find forgivable. Measured economically, on a global basis red wine outweighs white in terms of both volume and price. Yet the Loire Valley turns this law on its head. Along the banks of… Read More

Gender Confusion in French Nouns

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As an anglophone, the whole idea seems murky and overcomplicated, but you’ve accepted the facts: knowing which words are masculine and feminine in French is a pain in the fesses. Little did you know the heads-is-feminine-tails-is-masculine coin you’ve been flipping has a third surface. One that means the noun in question can be masculine or feminine. Fun, right? Depending on which article you choose, the word’s definitions are entirely different. The full list… Read More

“Diamonds” in the Rough: Unearthing French Truffles

Truffles in the market by KimonBerlin

As the cold settles over France every year, an intricate forest game of hide and seek goes on in France — and the target is a fungus. Extending from November to March, la saison de la truffe produces every gourmand’s dream: Périgord Diamonds. The shy but enormously sought-after prizes come from the southwestern region of Dordogne and are the most famous of France’s black truffles. When harvested, le truffe noir de Périgord may be shaved,… Read More

Sourced from France: the Single-Vineyard Cabernets of Diamond Creek

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In Washington, you don’t see many bottles of Diamond Creek. This Napa Valley estate only produces about 2,000 cases per year, and many either stay out west or are sent to Europe, Russia, or East Asia. To put this in perspective, a large Bordeaux estate like Léoville-las-Cases may produce nine times that amount in any given year, and some Napa estates clock in at even larger multiples. According to Phil… Read More

Rise and Shine for Coq au Vin

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When considering the most famous — and one of the most loved — French dishes, it’s hard to argue with coq au vin. Like many timeless meals, coq au vin emerged from humble beginnings, springing to mass popularity during the 20th century as a rural meal prepared by peasants in the countrysides of Burgundy, Alsace, Auvergne, and Champagne, but, although it is believed to be an almost 400-year old recipe, its exact origins are rather mysterious. Various… Read More

It’s Not Them, but It May Be You: Understanding Service à la Francaise

rude french

Perhaps the most pervasive stereotype about the French is that they’re rude, an apparently widely-held belief that probably stems in large part from a difference in one particular element of cultural practices: customer service attitudes. While in France and many other countries, customer service is highly valued, the ways in which it’s practiced aren’t always comparable, meaning that foreigners often perceive French customer service agents — particularly waiters — as rude. The… Read More

Les viandes rares d’Amérique du Nord

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Il y a tant de choses à goûter pendant l’hiver: du filet de bœuf, de l’épaule d’agneau, du civet de lapin. Chacun a son air délicieux et son saveur particulier. Au cours d’une longue soirée froide, leur goûts riches s’entendent bien avec le chaleur d’un petit groupe réuni au coin du feu. Mais pour ceux qui cherchent quelque chose de différent, il faut essayer les spécialités de la chasse dont… Read More

Culture Meets Confection on Rue de Rivoli

Angelina Tearoom

Nestled steps from the Louvre, just across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries, the Angelina Tearoom on Paris’ rue de Rivoli provides the perfect home for tourists and locals alike. Boasting an impressive Belle Époque interior and a host of former patrons including Coco Chanel, Marcel Proust (who, undoubtedly treated himself to some tea and madeleines), and a parade of former aristocrats, there are plenty of reasons to visit this exquisite salon… Read More

Janvier’s Favorite Cake: La Galette des Rois

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The Christmas season in France certainly does not end on Christmas day. In fact, this is only the beginning of a joyous celebration that continues up until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. Historically, the Epiphany has its roots in the Eastern Christian tradition, but has since been adopted by the Western Church as well. In a religious context, January 6th is the feast day when Christians celebrate the… Read More

Christmas Delicacies in Francophonie

buche.de noel 2

As the Christmas season approaches, Francophones around the world prepare for the holiday in various ways, and food plays a major part. With countries ranging from tropical islands to the colder climates, the variation on Christmas dishes within Francophonie is stupendous and, of course, delicious! France The feasting  in France begins on Christmas Eve, when families return home after midnight mass and enjoy a meal known as the réveillon. The traditional Christmas… Read More