Bastille Day!

Edith here, enjoying full summer north of Boston. Today is the day when, well, I’ll let tell you:

“Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress and prison that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie-Antoinette, were executed.”


The famous Prise-de-la-Bastille painting by by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

However, another history site gives a rather different take on the storming. “Back in July of 1789, France had already experienced a rough summer that included food shortages, high taxes (as a solution to King Louis XVI’s debts) and the militarization of Paris. Sensing distress, the king called upon the Estates-General—an assembly that hadn’t met in more than a century—to deliver a new tax plan. That resulted in the Third Estate, the non-noble/non-clergy portion of the assembly, breaking from the clergy and nobility, and demanding a written constitution from France….Weeks later, … fears that Louis XVI was attempting to quash any political revolution began to boil.

“That fear culminated on July 14 in a march to the Hôtel des Invalides to loot firearms and cannons, and a resulting (and far more famous) trip to the Bastille for proper ammunition. That hunt for gunpowder—not the hope of freeing prisoners—was the main reason for the storming of the Bastille. The events that followed—the freeing of the few prisoners that remained at the Bastille, but also a deadly battle and the brutal beheading of the prison governor and his officers—were more of a side effect of chaotic uprising, rather than its intent….A year later, France would host the Fête de la Fédération on July 14 to celebrate the France’s constitutional monarchy and to honor France’s newfound unity. “

Vive la Resistance! Every year two widely traveled friends of mine throw a Bastille Day party. They fill their back yard with tables and chairs and decorate with red and blue. They make a big Coq au Vin and all the guests bring French-themed side dishes or desserts. At the end of the evening we all stand to sing the “Marseilles” – yes, they pass out the words to the song.


My salade composée from last year

This year I’m bringing Chocolate Raspberry Clafoutis – the party is tomorrow.

Readers: Do you celebrate Bastille Day? If not, what’s your favorite revolution?



Wicked Wednesday: Who is Your Favorite Celebrity Chef?

MurdermostfinickyWe are celebrating the release of Murder Most Finicky today. The wicked question of the week, in keeping with the theme of the book: Who is your favorite celebrity chef? The cooking show you like to watch?

Liz: I’m probably going to be the worst at answering this question because I don’t watch cooking shows! I’m going to go with Kris Carr. She’s not a traditional celebrity chef, but her Crazy Sexy food revolution is helping people use food as their pharmacy. Via her blog and cookbooks (Crazy Sexy DietCrazy Sexy Kitchen, Crazy Sexy Juice), Kris offers tips on how to eat way better without sacrificing enjoyment. Her recipes are yummy, vegan, and offer gluten- and dairy-free options.

Jessie: I don’t watch cooking shows either. I do love to watch Anthoy Bourdain travel the world and experience other cultures through food. Does that count?

Julie: Jessie, we’ll let him count. I have three favorites. #1, of course, Julia Child. #2 Martha Stewart. #3 Emeril Lagasse.

graham-kerrJuliachildEdith: Ha. I don’t watch cooking shows, either. So Julia Child gets my vote. And does anybody remember Graham Kerr, the handsome Galloping Gourmet? I watched him in high school. I was so impressed that he would pour some wine into his cooking, and then some into his glass (my parents did not drink) and drink it right there on air. Now I AM him. (Look, I found a picture of Julia Child and Graham Kerr together!) And congratulations, Liz!

Sherry: It’s ironic that I’m probably the worst cook of us all and yet I love to watch cooking shows. One of my favorites is Chopped on the Food Network. I love the judges on the show but have a new favorite, Chris Santos. There was a recent episode with military vets, one of them (the first runner up) was having a particularly hard time in life. Chris said he was opening a new restaurant and offered him a job adding that he didn’t do it lightly and thought the vet was a great cook. It touched my heart because I’ve never seen a judge do that before.

Barb: I have to go with Tom Colicchio and Top Chef. It was eleven years ago that I spent Tom_Colicchioa snowy Saturday wrapping Christmas presents and watching a marathon of the first season of Project Runway. I had never watched reality TV before, not even American Idol or Survivor, but Project Runway spoke to me. I’m not into fashion, but I loved watching creative people solve problems to compete in interesting challenges. When I learned the same production team was doing Top Chef, I had no interest. “If you can’t smell it or taste it, what’s the point?” I said to my husband. But nonetheless, around the second season, they got me. I have to say I’ve learned a lot about cooking and a lot about food from Top Chef.

Readers: Cooking shows or no? Who’s your favorite TV chef?