Thursday, November 28, 2013

Child of the Universe

Great signs to greet your #thanksgiving guests
(Photo via Pinterest)

In my grandparent's dining room
hung an old copy of the Desiderata. 
Every year during Thanksgiving,
my grandfather would read it out loud to us. 
And at the end, he always took his glasses off
and wiped his eyes. 

Today I'd like to share it with you. 


"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."~ Max Ehrmann, 1927.

No less than the trees and the stars! 
Happy Thanksgiving to you, Child of the Universe!
You are perfection 
I am so grateful for you.
Now go eat pie!

Monday, November 25, 2013

ALP Presents: Chris Boïcos lecture~ Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo

This Wednesday, November 27th, 2014 at 19:30,
Chris Boïcos presents a lecture and slide presentation 
on the art of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Art in Fusion, 
timed to coincide with the exhibit happening through January 24th, 2014 
at the Musee de l'Orangerie

Chris Boïcos teaches Art History at various institutions in Paris 
and lectures on Paris Art Studies at the Galerie Beckel Odille Boïcos. 
If you love Frida, or have never seen her work together with Rivera's, 
and are in Paris, don't miss Boïcos' lecture or the exhibit. 

American Library in Paris  is located at:
10, rue du General Camou
(Just off the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60 
Tues-Sat: 10h-19h, Sun: 13h-19h.

(Frida Kahlo image via American Library in Paris: HERE.) 
(Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera, L'Art en Fusion banner from the Musee de l'Orangerie: HERE.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Triple Truth~ Buddhist thought for the day

"Teach this triple truth to all: 
A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service 
and compassion are the things which renew humanity." 

Sometimes in the presence of other egos,
especially those vexatiously engaging mine,
I lose my way and need this reminder. 

I'm still working on being loving, kind, compassionate and generous
in the face of such egoism.  

I cannot just remove myself 
because they are clearly my life lesson
so will find me wherever I go. 

So I continue prayer and meditation
in the hopes that something will one day work;
that my thin skin will bolster up;
that offense will not be taken
(no matter how aimed),
and that my heart will be generous and compassionate. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Vaux de Cernay Abbaye, France)

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Delicacies' of France~ Missing Paris Day

File:Gonadi Paracentrotus lividus riccio di mare

Just saw a list of  "The disgusting French delicacies that Anglos won't eat (but should)"

Having spent enough time in France (well, never enough), I've heard of nearly all of them though not tried every one. 

At the top of the list is one I've tried but don't care for (sort of): 
1.) Langue de Boeuf (or Beef Tongue)~ This is my French nephew's favorite dish and one that his Grandmere makes for him every visit home. While I've tasted it, it's one of those pieces of meat whose texture never lets me forget what it is (and where it came from.) (This must be where he gets his love for lettuce!) However, I'm mad about the Sauce Gribiche that goes on it (an egg yolk and mustard sauce with capers and parsley and more.) I'll keep the Gribiche!

2.) Lapin (Rabbit)~ Another of my nephew's fave's, his father's Lapin a Moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard Sauce). Have to say I've grown to like this one though I remember trying rabbit as a 5 yr old and the taste (and thought) bothered me so much, I couldn't try it again until I started traveling to France and it was served to me at a dinner party. Eat it or... don't eat! 

3.) Tetines (Cow's Udder)~ I'm sorry but I don't even recall seeing this on a French menu. And I don't think you could get me to try it! The Chef says even he might not try this. 

4.) Ris de Veau (Calf's Pancreas)~ Often mislabeled as Sweetbread.  I've often seen this on a menu though did not realize it was the pancreas. Not interested in brain or pancreas unless eating them will increase the vitality of mine. 

5.) Pigeon (You know)~  Pretty sure I've tried it but this one's not so bothersome because we've grown up on poulet

6.) Tripe (Stomach)~ While The Chef loves this, the entrails and walls of the stomach of ox and sheep are not on my list of things to ever try again. 

7.) Rognons (Kidneys)~ We've been advised to have the Grandmere make them for us rather than eat them in a restaurant, just to be safer (which doesn't inspire much confidence for me.) 

8.) Andouilette (Sausage of Pig's intestines)~ While we're used to sausage, I can't get used to the flavor of this one. Sort of that latrine finish going for it. 

9.) Steak Tartare (chopped raw meat)~ I've tried one bite of this and...not ready again. 

10.) Foie Gras (Goose liver)~ My all-time favorite French delicacy! I know people have trouble with the raising (and methods of feeding) geese for this purpose but served with an onion confit and a sweet white wine, it is to die for! (Sorry, no pun intended.) 

11.) Tete de Veau (Head of Veal)~ The Chef's favorite, not mine. 

12.) Oursins (Sea Urchin-- in photo above)~ I don't even recall seeing this on the menu but I can tell you from looking at the photo, I won't be trying it. Escargot (which is my 2nd favorite) is the only slimy I can do, mainly because of the sauce with all that butter and garlic and parsley. 

Now go out and try some Tripe. You know, at that French restaurant downtown. And leave the sea urchins on the beach!


To see photos of each, click on TheLocal list below. 
(List from
(Photo from Marco Busdraghi from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pacific Seafood endangered?

We're not eating much seafood these days 
after recently reading a blog about the frightening and so-far unexplained carnage
of Pacific ocean seafood and wildlife
(possibly due to radiation from Fukushima.) 

I've read several different articles
from Oceana, NOAA and even the FDA's faq's
but so far, not feeling assured
especially after witnessing my own bizarre scene of wildlife carnage
on the beach at Manzanita last month.

I love seafood and am missing it.
So I'm enjoying photos of fresh fish from Greece's Mediterranean. 

What are your thoughts about radiation
from Fukushima
reaching our seafood?

(photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, November 4, 2013

He said, She said and Haute Cuisine~ Missing Paris Day

After seeing this sweet French film recently, Haute Cuisine, (which I loved and recommend if mainly for Catherine Frot's beautifully strong leading performance and the delicious culinary scenes), I couldn't help but take a peek at the article on the new book out by the head man in the main kitchen of the palace.

Chef Bernard Vaussion, who's been employed in the Elysee Palace's main kitchen since 1974 and is retiring Wednesday, has published a memoir: La Cuisine de l'Elysee: a la Table des Presidents.

According to the film (based on the true story of a country woman from the Perigord, real name Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch, sought after by Francois Mitterand to be his personal chef in the palace's smaller, private kitchen), the men of the palace's main kitchen (so Monsieur Vaussion?) caused her some grief.

In an interview with Mazet-Delpeuch in the New Zealand Herald, when asked how difficult it was to work in such a male-dominated arena, she replied, "When I am in the kitchen, I am the boss and some people didn't like that." About the film, she states that it was well done and that "the atmosphere of the palace kitchen was portrayed in a very real way; hard but also very enjoyable to be the president's private chef." 

Mazet-Delpeuch has spent time this year touring for promotion of the film. But lest you think she is self-serving in her pursuit, when asked about her next adventure, she answers that she is considering "a project that has been presented to me that involves teaching young, orphaned Indian women to cook so that they may have some hope for their future and be able to support themselves." 

"Cooking has never been a career for me--it is a passport for adventures." 


In his book, Vaussion details the eating habits of each of the six French heads he worked under from Georges Pompidou to the current Francois Hollande.

In case you're interested:

Pompidou (1969-74) preferred traditional French cooking, heavy and rich like Boeuf Bourgignon.
Valery Giscard d'Estaing (1974-81) was partial to lighter, healthier fare and loved scrambled eggs with truffle sauce.
Mitterand (1981-95) adored Breton oysters, the finest foie gras and caviar.
Jacques Chirac (1995-2007) was famous for his love of veal's head (or Tete de Veau).
Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-12) also preferred healthy food in keeping with his trim figure. But with the recession, he took it upon himself to remove the most expensive caviar and cheeses from the menu (except when Angela Merkel came to visit!)
Francois Hollande (2012-present), a chocolate and wine lover, has put cheese back on the menu. Apparently also a huge fan of the American cheeseburger, maybe that's just been too much for M. Vaussion.

(Article by Catherine Viette from
(Interview by Nici Wickes in The New Zealand Herald)
(Mazet-Delpeuch's book Here)