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

‘Bon App’’

La Cornuelle: One Cool Cookie


If you thought French pastries solely consisted of croissants, beignets, and éclairs, then think again! It turns out that these culinary French staples are not the only ones to get excited about — each region of France has its own specialty. Today, however, we are looking at one traditional baked good hailing from the commune of Villebois-Lavelette in southwestern France: la cornuelle. La cornuelle (also known as la cornue due to… Read More

Chefs: What to watch on French TV


France 2, one of France’s public television networks, is not necessarily well-known for producing cult TV series; instead, it tends to air dubbed American series with a delay of a few series behind the American counterpart. However, its new breakout hit, Chefs, is set to change that. The show stars Clovis Cornillac as the head chef at a high-end Parisian restaurant that risks going under as he mentors his troubled sous-chef, Hugo Becker, who is… Read More

A Taste of Senegal – Just in Time to Savor International Francophonie Month!


March has been a month-long celebration of La Francophonie and there is little else that better defines French culture than the tastes, smells and flavors of French cuisine. From the most refined to the more provincial and traditional dishes, the influence of La Francophonie is incontrovertible. Senegal shares France’s emphasis on the importance of good food and good company. Teranga – Wolof for ‘hospitality’ – is the spirit and art of camaraderie that brings the… Read More

Le Pineau des Charentes


Take some lightly fermented grape juice (or ‘must’), mix it with a young Cognac, put this mixture in an oak barrel, and keep it there for at least 12 months. What do you get? A drink called Pineau des Charentes. What is Pineau des Charentes? Pineau des Charentes, or simply known as Pineau, is a sweet apéritif that is only produced in the Charente and Charente-Maritime regions of western France. The… Read More

Wringing Blood from the Proverbial Stone

Image courtesy of Paul Kiernan

“You can’t get blood from a stone.” This saying may have 17th-century origins, but it still manages to sound convincing. With an aura of immutable truth, it conveys concisely the impossibility of extracting from a thing that which is not there in the first place. In law school lecture halls, it serves as a plaintiff’s justification for selecting a defendant with deep pockets. After all, to seek compensation from a… Read More

Famous Parisian Cafés

Enjoying one a Ladurée's charlotte aux fraises et à la menthe with some tea / Photo courtesy of Ashley Estes

There is perhaps no place more beloved or revered in French culture than the café. For the French, the café is more than a simple spot to grab coffee – it’s a meeting point for discussions with old friends, an opportunity to read Le Monde and reflect, a corner table to work on your developing novel, or just a venue for a café au lait and people watching. Everyone has his… Read More

Top 5 Viennoiseries

Image courtesy of iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve ever been to any town in France, you’re familiar with the warm, sweet smell that fills the streets around 8am: the boulangeries have been hard at work for hours, and now it’s finally time to open for the day. In addition to being home to that emblem of French food, the baguette, and the delicate pâtisserie confections, the boulangerie is where the French pick up their daily viennoiserie. The… Read More

Le bourru est arrivé!


Beaujolais nouveau, the short-fermented red wine released just weeks after the grapes are harvested, is increasingly becoming known in American tradition thanks to the widespread marketing push behind this Gamay wine as the first new French wine of the season. Long celebrated with great amusement and fanfare in France, its release at 12:01 on the third Thursday of November is rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. as well. Beaujolais’ white counterpart, le bourru, on the other hand, remains… Read More

Les vignerons puristes


“A ‘rustic’ wine is one that can be described as hearty, earthy or rough-edged.” – @AskDrVinny @WineSpectator Flavor Delivery Vehicles In the south of France, well away from the limelight that shines on organically certified wines and biodynamic vineyards live the two arguable greatest adherents of a stern oenological philosophy. Premised on simplicity, respect for natural circumstance, and non-intervention, Domaines Gauby and Gramenon craft some of the world’s darkest, most enveloping… Read More

5 French Pastries That Will Make Your Mouth Water


Buttery flakes of tender, delicate pastry that melt in your mouth, with a gush of warm chocolat that evokes the very spirit of France — a perfect, just-out-of-the-oven pain au chocolat is a near life-changing pastry, it’s true. But as iconic as it is, it is by no means the only French pastry worth salivating over. La patisserie and  la boulangerie are essential fixtures of any French town, whose daily commerce in croissants and baguettes is often their… Read More

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