*OrgaGinal* Show in Luchon – France

From June 1-30

*OrgaGinal* : intallations/show/performance

Organic /Organique
Deriving from all and any living matter and primarily characterizes a continuous development between encountered elements.
Vient de toute matière vivante et surtout caractérise un développement continue entre des éléments rencontrés.

Deriving from living tissues or from transformations undergone by the products of living organisms.
Qui provient de tissus vivants ou de transformations subies par les produits d’organismes vivants.

Concerning, producing, favoring organization while inherently belonging to this organization.
Qui concerne, produit, favorise l’organisation et est inherent à cette organisation.

A person whose fantasy is in some way organic” Jean Cocteau.
”Personne dont la fantaisie est en quelque sorte organique” Cocteau.

Original/Original
Deriving from something that exists since its origin.
Vient de quelque chose qui existe depuis son origine.

Raw, initial, native, primal, primitif.
Brut, initial, originaire, premier, primitif.

Which comes directly from its author and its source.
Qui émane directement de son auteur et de sa source.

Created for the purpose at hand.
Qui a été créé pour les besoins de la cause.

Behaving in a manner that belongs only to herself and that may appear eccentric, extravagant, particular, singular.
Qui se comporte d’une manière qui n’appartient qu’à elle et qui peut paraître excentrique, extravagante, particulière, singulière.

My “origin” lies, here (written June 2016) in Luchon — where I was born in 1960 and where I lived until 1982. I have been in the US since 1987. First in San Diego and now in Brooklyn. My work as a pluridisciplinary artist leads to much travel, and thus to very varied works: performances, drawings, paintings, texts, voice work, film & video, cooking… I am not attached to one specific form or genre, I use what I need.
Mon “origine” se trouve ici (écrit en juin 2016), à Luchon, —j’y suis née en 1960 et y ai vécu jusqu’en 1982. Je suis aux USA depuis 1987. D’abord à San-Diego et maintenant à Brooklyn. Mon travail d’artiste pluridisciplinaire me conduit à voyager, d’où des travaux très variés: performances, dessins, peintures, textes, travail de la voix, films, cuisine .… Je ne suis pas attachée à une forme particulière, j’utilise ce dont j’ai besoin.

*OrgaGinal* is the portmanteau word which defines my in/quest to communicate with the ancestral female unconscious, but also with everything that permits heuristic discovery. That is to say, the art to search for what one finds; thus this mantra that has been following me for quite some time and that is also the title of my next film: “Things fall where they lie.”
*OrgaGinal* est mon mot valise qui définit mon en/quête pour communiquer avec l’inconscient féminin ancestral, mais aussi avec tout ce qui permet une découverte heuristique. C’est-à-dire l’art de chercher ce qu’on trouve; d’où le mantra qui me suit depuis longtemps et qui est le titre de mon prochain film: “Les choses tombent où elle reposent.”

Event with the exibition: Concert avec/ with Connie Crothers

Article in La Dépêche


Summing up & Coming up

Above is a 3 minutes résumé of Nicole & Pierre’s last three months!
Thank you so much to all the friends we met, reconnected, showed & performed with  during May June July 2015 — they were truly inspiring times!

Back in NYC after super exciting, intense & rich times in Sète, Bourg d’Oueil, Marseilles, Cannes, Tourves, Celles, Chateauvert, Aix en Provence, Paris, Germ en Louron & finally Durango Mexico —see slideshow résumé below. And now looking forward to the next gig with magnificent Michael Bisio on bass, we will explore some Champs/Songs on Saturday July 18th at 6 PM at Cornelia Café. The brick vaulted cellar is the perfect place to cool off, the food is tasty, good wines & cocktails available.

Saturday July 18 2015
6PM (ends at 7:30) $15 w/a drink
Nicole Peyrafitte & Michael Bisio
at Cornelia Café  — 29 Cornelia Street – New York City

“Poetry Chansons Improvisations accross continents & languages with Nicole Peyrafitte’s nourishing, sensual, campy and scintillating multi-layered vocal range & texts, & Michael Bisio’s extraordinary tonal beauty & intensity of the very personal musical language of his double bass”

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Summertime/ C’est l’été

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Adishatz, Hello!
Our spring was busy & rich with a great tour of the UK. You can find videos & pix on my facebook page, Pierre Joris’ blog & more links below. We are now almost ready to embark on a long summer transhumance filled with many exciting stages — see short & longer term dates below. Meanwhile, let me fill you in on our publications.Bi-Valve : Vulvic Space I Vulvic Knowledge — which includes a cd, texts &17 colors plates of my paintings & digital photographs — is OUT! The recording features Michael Bisio on bass & we had a jolly good time recording it at FastSpeaking music w/ Ambrose Bye. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result & koudos to Lori Anderson-Moseman (Stockport Flats), who not only made it beautiful but was ever so supportive thru out the process. Get your copy while they last: here.

Also out, Pierre’s Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj —for which I designed the cover— is just out from Chax press, you can get it here, & in case you had missed the announcement: Poem for the Millennium Four: The University of California Book of North African Literature is also out and available here.

 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
July 19-27 

Poetry Festival in Sète, France
NP: Voix Vives de Méditerranée en Méditerranée
Daily performances throughout the festival.
See detailed program here

July 29-August 5
Gascony

NP & PJ: Artists in Residence in Gascony for the NY’OC Trobadors project.
NY’OC Trobadors, is a collaboration between artists based in France and New York.  Save the date — Saturday November 23rd 2013 — for a full day on/of Occitan culture that will bring the riches of southern France’s troubadour tradition to the American public. This unique gathering of bi-continental poets, musicians, singers & translators will present panels, a fully staged bilingual (Occitan-English) multimedia performance and talks about the bilingual anthology of Occitan poetry we are working on. Texts, poems & song lyrics spanning the 11th century to the present will be presented. This event will be at Poets House co-sponsored by City Lore & d’Artagnan. We still need funds to make this event possible. City Lore is taking donations here)

 

August 5-31
Bourg d’Oueil 
(our Pyrenean base)
NP: Continuing work on a series of paintings & writings specific to the location
PJ: This is the first summer in 10 years he has no deadlines so he will write new work!
& together we will start editing our documentary project on poet Gerrit Lansing.

 

September 1-15
Paris
September 5th:  NP & PJ Feature readers at Paris Lit Up series
more readings TBA

October 10-22
Southern California Tour:
Los Angeles:
October 16th : PJ reading at Otis
October 17th: PJ Round table on Translation at USD
More TBA

November 6-9
Brussels- Belgium
University of Brussels Symposium on Alice Notley & Pierre Joris.
Details TBA – Readings by both PJ & NP

LINKS:
CCA Launch of Diwan Ifrikya – Glasgow Scotland (Photo Monique Lemos)
DOMOETICS – Edinburgh Scotland (Photo Chris Donia)
Nicole at Tibor de Nagy Gallery – NYC
Nicole at The Huntarian Gallery  – Glasgow Scotland
Pierre at Dia Foundation – NYC
Nicole at MoMA – NYC
Pierre at Walt Whitman’s house  – Huntington Station NY
Fortino Samano (the Overflowing of the Poem) review – by Belle Gironda & NP

IN PROGRESS:
IMG_7522.1
Working on a short documentary on poet Gerrit Lansing .
Here, filming in Gloucester in June 2013 with Miles Joris-Peyrafitte as cinematographer.

 

Infinite Views

This summer has been very wet & overcast in the Pyrenees. I love being here no matter if it rains or shines, but some hikes require clear skies to be able to experience the 360 degree panoramic view of the Pyreneen mountain range. My friends Lori & Tom were visiting from Ithaca for a week, the skies were scheduled to be crystal clear for two days — perfect timing to get out & to the summit!

To be able to see the sun rise over the mountain range, wake up call is at 4:30am  so we can leave the house by 5am. We are on schedule, a thermos of hot coffee, goat cheese, bread & a nice croustade from my favorite bakery in Luchon (rue Nérée Boubé) are all in the backpack. Hiking shoes & stick on hand, I slam the door shut, start walking towards the car when a sharp pain enters my foot: a roof nail punctured my sneakers and my foot!

Back to the house to remove shoe, nail, socks and notice that the puncture is not too bad. Once thoroughly disinfected, bandaged and foot secured in the hiking shoes I’ll be fine and can begin the journey. We drive to the port the Balès, park the car and start the hike in the night. The moon is already gone,  the sky still very bright with stars. I am granted 3 beautiful shooting stars that I truly welcome as a healing omen after the nail in the foot!  We will not make it on time on the top to see the sun break over the mountains but still I want to get to the top to get the full view. Lori is more eager to take picture of the rising sun from the Peirahitta (you can listen to the song I wrote about that place here) plus she is concerned about my foot — which is a bit sore, but the overpowering drive to get up there and experience the view that my ancestors have been looking at for thousand of years is irresistible.

 

We are on top of the Mont Né mountain at 2147m or 7049 feet high. The sun is just above the horizon the colors on the peaks are spectacular, the sun diffuses strokes of light slowly revealing the contours of the  mountain range’s layers. A true sense of infinity.

Tourin or Quick Open Fire Soup

 

The night before I left for a workshop with rhythm master Bernard Lubat in Uzeste, I made a tourin in our fire place. This soup of humble origin is mostly known as tourin à l’ailsopa de ajo in Spanish or garlic soup in English. Many variations are possible & in this case I used the ingredients available in the house: 1 tomato, 1 head of garlic, 1 onion, old bread & goose fat.


In a cast iron dutch oven I thoroughly sauteed the thinly sliced onion in goose fat. Meanwhile I crushed 3 cloves of garlic & a sprig of fresh rosemary in the mortar. After adding them to the pot, I removed the latter from the heat to avoid bitterness — over-sauteed garlic becomes bitter. I crushed the tomato in the mortar & added it to the onion garlic mixture. With no stock available, I added plain water to obtain the desired consistency. Coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper & a dash of piment d’Espelette are added for seasoning & then the pot is returned to the open fire for about 15/ 30 minutes.

With thick slices of old country-style bread rubbed with garlic & drizzled with goose fat lining the bottom of the plate, hot soup is poured in et voilà! le tour est joué & you get a magnificent & most satisfying soup. A beaten egg is often added before serving; this is especially enriching if you have only garlic to make the soup. Whoever needed canned soup? Pas moi!


Photos Pierre Joris & N.P

Méchoui or Whole Lamb on a Spit

Cooking on a spit was the theme of Pierre’s 65th birthday. After the cake on the spit (see previous blog here),  voilà the lamb on the spit a.k.a méchoui! According to the Robert historique de la langue Française the origin of the word méchoui is: “Borrowed (1912) from the Arabic maghrebien mešwi “roasted, grilled; lamb roasted on a spit”, past participle of šawa (شوى ), to roast, to grill”.   This dish is very popular in North Africa where  Pierre lived several years.

As we still are in the village of Bourg d’Oueil, in the heart of the French Pyrenees, the lamb will be  provided by no one else than our neighbors & friends, the Jamme family.  The 17 kgs (37,5 lbs) lamb, fetched from the nearby mountains a few days before, is “un broutard” or a “grazer”; that is a lamb that had passed the nursing stage and is already grazing. And now the photo log of an another amazing communal food experience:


The day before our friend André brought very dry wood he had split for the occasion & the spit that Marc had fetched from Yves the butcher. In the late afternoon I went to the Jamme’s house to rub the lamb with a thick marinade of olive oil, garlic, wild thyme, salt & piment d’Espelette (chili pepper from the basque country); then we returned the lamb to rest overnight in the walk-in cooler.

Now we went to the village hall multipurpose room to set up the tables. The meal will be inside, since we knew the weather was not going to be warm enough. As no rain was forecast, so the aperitif will be served outside. With Sylvia Gorelick —who made all the bouquets with wild flowers she had gathered in the fields near by— Marie Jeanne Jamm, — who brought additional sheets to cover the tables— Maïté & Michou — Pierre’s sister — set up a beautiful banquet table for 50 people. The event was becoming more elaborate as I had planned.  As we got closer to the date the eating of the birthday lamb as a casual outdoor buffet turning into an elaborate banquet.

On d-day: I am up at 7:30 am to set up for the méchoui. My neighbors Robi & farmer Roland Jamme (remember him from the cake) arrived shortly thereafter. Together we start the fire, strategize and go get the lamb prepped as best as we can to avoid any complication during cooking.

That’s it! it is 9:45am the beast is on the spit, as we have a manual spit, it is going to be crucial to have someone monitoring, turning & basting —w/the same marinade as above— the lamb & adding coals to the fire. Robi & Roland have set up a second fire next to the méchoui were they burn logs to turn them into charcoal, which they add under our lamb in order to keep an even fire.


I had nothing to worry about as Robi, Roland & now Pierre were fully in charge of the lamb. Accompanied by the same crew as last night we are setting up for cocktail hour & hors d’oeuvres. Joseph Garcès, who was Maitre d’H at the family hôtel for 14 years, came right on time to slice the magnificent bellota ham —acorn fed pig—  shipped to us by my nephew Vincent from a small Spanish farm. I had also prepared salads of heirloom tomatoes and organic haricots-vert that we set up on the table along with the ham. The fragrant cantaloupe from the Gers will be passed around once people are seated.

 It is around 12pm and guests are filling in. They are “appetizing” on cherry tomatoes, patés, salamis, radishes —here my 89 year old father is particularly enjoying them— while sipping the pleasant Marquisette, a cocktail make by Maïté & Robi — wine, vanilla bean, lime & seltzer, served by Marie-Jeanne Peyroulan an old time friend who came from a near valley with her son Teo who played a lot of “Quiller” —an ancient version of bowling— with my adorable niece Lou.


It is now 1 pm and the lamb is cooked! My brother Jean-Louis will assist Roland, Robi & Marc for the carving while my nieces Mag & Isa will pass the cut meat to the guests. To serve with the lamb, my friend Paulette made the most tasty Pistache Luchonnaise ever—a white bean & lamb stew with pork rind — a specialty of the Comminges region— Paulette’s Pistache almost stole the show from the Méchoui and the cóca! Unfortunately no pictures were taken as every body was too busy eating. We had seconds & some had thirds. We took a little break and had a cheese course. Not any kind of cheese, no, a Poubeau cheese if you please! Read about it here. It was a perfectly aged one; Joseph Garcès is on a “cheese plan”; that is that he reserves a full wheel six months in advance and lets it age in the cheese maker’s cave. Joseph offered his reserved wheel to Pierre for his birthday party!


It is now about 4pm and about time to present the birthday boy with his very special cake. After singing Happy Birthday, we serve the cake with crème anglaise, all the details about the incredible ancient cake are here. More singing was done by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Sylvia Gorelick, and a special tribute to Pierre by Joan-Francès Tisner & family who had come all the way from the Béarn. After coffee, Armagnac & Mirabelle —Thank you Michou & Julien for bringing the real stuff from Luxembourg! — it was about 6pm when the last guest left!

All of this could not have happend without the  amazing help of the family & a tight community of friends. Special thanks to the Jamme Family, Joseph Garcès & Paulette, Robi Castebrunet & Maïté, Conso, Michou, Marie-Jeanne, Domenja, Marie-Jo,  my parents Jean & Renée Peyrafitte, the Toucouère family, André, Marc & my brothers: Jean-Louis for his carving assistance and Pierre for the pix, Miles, Sylvia, all the wonderful guests & last but not least to Pierre whose birthday gave me a great opportunity to throw a party. MERCI!

Photo credit: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte & Nicole Peyrafitte

Coque or Gâteau à la Broche

This was a dream come true. Since I was a little girl I have admired & loved this cake.  It is made for very special occasions like weddings, christenings, special birthdays or anniversaries. I found an entry for “coque” in an old Gascon dictionary that says “qu’èm invitats a la còca” meaning “we are invited to the christening.”
It takes hours to complete this cake and needless to say it is a very special present to be given one. When I spoke about Pierre’s birthday menu to my friend & neighbor Roland Jamme I couldn’t believe he offered to make one with his wife Simone. Not only were they going to make it, but I could be there the whole time! This incredible ancient cake takes over 5 hours to make and requires the constant participation of 2 people who will endure intense heat. As you will see below, someone has to sit in front of the fire at all times.
After consulting with Simone, Roland they set up the cake making date for Saturday July 9 at 8:30 am., i.e. 6 days before the party,  which would be perfect as the cake needs to age before being served.
I was instructed to show up in Garin —where Simone’s family home is— on time and with all the ingredients .

Thus I showed up very excited and armed with 72 eggs, 3 kgs of flour, 3 kgs of sugar, 3kgs of butter, 15 packed of vanilla flavored sugar, 1/2 litre of rum Negrita & a roll of parchment paper. I was finally going to see the gâteau à la broche made from scratch like it as been done for hundreds of years! So, voilà le photo-reportage of the making –and do not miss the short video. I want to thank Simone & Roland from the bottom of my heart for this incredible day.

  

All the ingredients are placed on the table in order not to forget anything.
Then all the 72 super fresh eggs are carefully separated.

  

I was entrusted with slowly melting the butter in a pan while Roland started whipping the egg whites.

Simone hand mixes all the ingredients expertly; the rum is the last one to go in.

Roland had started the fire before I arrived. Once the batter is done, the ancient wooden mold is warmed up then wrapped in parchment paper.

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The wrapped mold is warmed up again and lathered with butter. Now the cooking part can begin. Simone takes her position in front of the hearth and starts pouring the batter while Roland turns the handle. Simone & Roland have mentioned several time that the starting of the cake is a crucial moment in order to make it sturdy. The main fear is always to break the cake and this fear is only lifted once it has been delivered to the party place!

Slowly but surely the pouring & cooking continue. Closely supervised, I anxiously got to relieve Simone at pouring a few times and Roland at turning. As the cake becomes heavier the turning/cooking  gets trickier. The conversations are continuously interrupted by comments or commands like: “Il faut mettre – put some on,” ” tourne plus vite – turn faster,”  “attention le pied – watch the bottom,” “attend!  les piques brillent encore – Wait, the peaks are still shining.”

Roland keeps feeding the fire with long logs that he and his nephew Fabrice have cut for the occasion. Each log is carefully picked as the fire needs to be highly controlled. Logs & embers are moved according to where most heat is needed.  Here we can see the cake shaping up. The “peaks” are starting to form. One of the conversation around the fire was about the length of the peaks, the pride of the cake makers, though Simone points out that she favors the taste over the shape and I agree.

As the batter in the basin diminishes slowly, Simone is wiping the sweat off her face more often. I try to relieve her as much as I can, but her expert hand is needed to “mettre” properly as it is getting more difficult; due to peak formation the batter sticks less and less so the spooning over has to be more frequent and the batter dripping in the pan needs to be quickly collected —that is before it cooks– and spooned back on too the cake (see video below).

 

Here we go! many hours later finally the last spoon of batter! The cake is perfect, just a little more cooking to give it the final golden look.

The cake is brought inside to cool off while resting between two chairs. After lunch Roland, with the help of Simone’s brother Jean-Claude, the mold is removed with a mallet! That part is very scary and you can sense the how everyone is tense in order to execute the appropriate move in order not to break the cake.

The cake was delivered by Roland & Simone on the morning of the party on July 14. We served it for dessert accompanied by crème paysanne —aka crème anglaise— that my mother, Marie-Jeanne Jamme & Robi Castbrunet made.  What a gift! I am so thankful to Roland and Simone for their generosity, time, expertise & hospitality at her family home. Watch the video and stay tune for the rest of the menu!

For your information a very similar cake, called Šakotis, is make in Lithuania, another close cousin is the German Baumkuchen.

Photos Credit: Nicole Peyrafitte & Roland Jamme
Video: Nicole Peyrafitte
Flower arrangement on the cake: Sylvia Gorelick

Fire up 2011

BONA ANANDA   GLÉCKLECHT NEIT JOER   BONNE ANNEE
HAPPY NEW YEAR  새해복 많이 받으세요

Switching year is always exciting and this is how we  FIRE UP 2011!


Poem Pierre Joris—Video N.P.

Thank you for reading the blog and the most read pots of the years are:

Charles Bernstein Poetic Birthday Buffet

Ninkasi: “The Lady who fills the Mouth”

Three Sisters Soup

Lo Magret goes to Paris!

29000 years ago…and Paleo Lunch

Fast Poulet

Squids Part I: Clean & Keep the Ink

Squids Part II: Kept the Ink ? Now Cook with It!

What was your favorite? Love to know. Merci & Bonne Année!

In Pétéram We Trust!

In the county of Luchon (where I was born and raised) we are really serious about Pétéram. Pétéram is an ancient local dish made from a combination of tripe (intestine & pluck), lamb  & veal feet, ham, carrots & onions. During my last visit  home I had to have my fix of Pétéram; so one Sunday, part of the family took off to the village of Oô, where the restaurant “Les Spigeoles” serves one of the best Pétéram. Jean-Pierre Oustalet, a friend & the chef-0wner of the establishment, is a very creative man always up to something fun. Recently he printed a series of t-shirts  with  the motto he coined himself: “In Peteram We Trust!”.

peteram t-shirt

This summer a Flemish  TV from Belgium came to film Jean-Pierre’s Pétéram for one of their shows. Though the video is in Flemish & French I urge you to watch it: Touristique: de pétéram.
Tripe dishes are cooked around the world (list here), and as we know
these less desired cuts were left for the poor. It was the same for Pétéram, I don’t think it appeared on restaurant menus in Luchon until the 20th century and my family restaurant was certainly one of the first to offer it. Though I don’t know the exact etymology of the word, one can read its the humble origins through the Gascon language  : petar— French translation: “crever” or in English:”to die” or “to be famished” and hame— in French “faim” or in English “hungry” Thus Pétéram can be interpreted as “a dish for the famished” or as a dish that will kill hunger! Then again this may be an invented etymology (much work remains to be done on the Gascon language, and especially certain of its regional versions, such as that spoken in the Luchonais.) On the other hand, to quote my husband, the poet Pierre Joris, “are any etymologies really ‘false’?”
I used to make Pétéram when I was working at the family restaurant (other posts related to the family hotel here) and though we received “clean” tripe from the butcher, the smell was still strong and the tripe would require extensive blanching in order to get rid of the offensive smell. I got used to it and it didn’t bother me, except this one time. In the late fall of 1981, I had to cut a big pile of intestines and honeycomb for my Pétéram and  that time, for some reason I was to discover a few days later, I couldn’t bear the smell. T
wo days later I found out I was pregnant with my son Joseph. Throughout my pregnancy I had to stay away from tripes.

Jean Pierre Oustalet’s Pétéram is as good as it gets. He achieves the difficult task of making a tripe dish light. The texture of the tripe still firm but tender. The sauce, in which the tripe have cooked for over twelve hours, release the rich and comforting aromas of all the ingredients. The creamy potatoes that have been added late in the cooking provide the perfect starching effect. Some places serve it as a first course, though we had it as a main course. We had soup to start with, then a plate of artisan salamis & cured ham, followed by the Pétéram as the main course. Then we had a slice of delicious mountain cheese, a slice of apple pie and voilà! we sure were full and happy! Below are a few pictures of the fun outing where you can see my parents : Jean & Renée Peyrafitte ( 88 and 81 years old!) in the gorgeous village of Oô. This village is also very dear to me because I premiered my performance The Bi-Continental Chowder /La Garbure Transcontinentale there in 2005. One of the reason is that one of the main Romanesque female figures featured in the show is from the village;  you can hear the song related to it here.

The recipe is a translation of the family recipe transmitted by my grandfather Joseph Peyrafitte & typed by my mother Renée Peyrafitte:

for 5/6 people:
1 lamb stomach & 6  feet 1 kg veal honeycomb & 2 feet
3 carrots whole
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 ham bone
1 bouquet garnis of thym, laurel & parsley
1 cup of ham prosciutto like— diced
2 onions
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 kg potatoes
Hachis (50 gr garlic & 50 gr fatback grounded together)
1/3 cup Armagnac

Blanch and scrape the tripes thoroughly. Cut the stomach & honeycomb in trips of about 1 x 0.5 inches. Place is all in a stew-pot with a ham bone.
Add 3 whole carrots, the bouquet garnis, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 cup of ham, 2 onions whole, salt, pepper & a touch of nutmeg. Add wine wine & chicken stock so tripes are immersed and “swimming”.
Bring it to a boil, cover the pot and let cook for 10 hours, one hour before serving add potatoes peeled and quartered.
When ready to serve add hachis and the Armagnac.



Stade Jean Peyrafitte


Luchon’s Mayor Louis Ferré & Jean Peyrafitte

On Saturday November 13th, 2010 the soccer stadium in my hometown of Luchon (French Pyrenees) was named the Stade Jean Peyrafitte. Jean Peyrafitte is my father and today he is a dashing 88 years old. His political career lasted for a span of 24 years.  Among many mandates the most significant are: mayor of the town of Luchon (1974-1995); Conseiller Général —county executive— (1977-1992) & Senator (1980-1998).

He was of course touched to be honored during his lifetime but the real thrill was to have the soccer field where he played as a young man named after him. Dad started his soccer career while he was in boarding school in Toulouse; during that time he finished second at the regional best young player contest and therefore was qualified to participate in the final in Paris.  Unfortunately his mother, who was a control freak, didn’t allow him to go; her excuse was: “You are too young to go to Paris”, at that time parental authority was not challenged but I still can feel today how sad he was .

Team Bagnères Luchon Sport 1942

When he was done with school he came back to his hometown and integrated the lead soccer team (équipe première) despite his young age. In 1942 the team won the division championship and managed to play up to the 32th final of the Coupe de France — the French National Soccer Cup. After an intense and dramatic game they lost against Toulouse, a pro team. It was only in the last part of the second half that the then international player Mario Zatelli scored twice.

After being requisitioned for STO — that was the Compulsory Work Service during the German occupation of France — and spending a couple of dreadful years in German factories, my father got drafted in 1946 to serve in  the army. His battalion was stationed in the town of Menton. There he got to join the town soccer team where he once again excelled.  He got noticed by the Monaco managers.  At that time the Monaco soccer team, very close to Menton, was trying to reach professional status. On Mondays during the soccer season they organized friendly games against professional teams in order to prepare for promotion.  They needed better players and they invited my dad to play. At the end of the year they reached promotion to pro level and they offered dad to join the team for good. He seriously considered; he was done with the army, loved the area but once again his mother thwarted his dreams and pressured him to come home. Many times I heard the story of my grand father showing up in Menton to convince him to come back home. Dad was an only child, and they were able to pressure him by claiming  they needed help with the family business; once again he obeyed and returned.

Other offers to play in professional clubs came, but he turned them all down, returned home for good and threw himself into many successful ventures. Before getting into politics, he coached the soccer team, created a night club —where I got to listen to great jazz!—, wrote for local newspapers, promoted Southern French Tourism and food, created an independent hotel chain with friends…well the list would be too long to name them all.

Team Bagnères Luchon Sport 1942

Anyhow, back to the naming of the stadium: Dad being concerned that his voice would not be strong enough since he is struggling with light bouts of Parkinsons that have an effect on his throat, and as he is also concerned with getting over-emotional, he asked me to read his speech. I also typed it for him and that was interesting. When I arrived at his house on Tuesday the dining room was cluttered with boxes, old files, envelopes filled with photos, articles and various dossiers. My mom said: “And that is only a small portion of what we have”! We sat down and started sorting and organizing. We kept all the soccer related documents at hand so dad could refresh his memory to write his speech. We only started typing the speech on Thursday, because we got caught up in looking and filing photos of his night club in the 50’s. I will have to do a separate post on that because there is way too much to say.


So on Thursday we sat side by side and he started dictating me what he wanted to say. I had to listen to many of my dads speeches over the years so I know his style pretty well. I helped trying to keep it concise and focused as he had about 5 minutes to respond to the mayor’s speech. It went pretty well despite how opinionated we both can be. One of the keys was to keep it only between the two of us. He wanted my mother around, for details and dates, but their constant fighting mode of communication would have been too much for me, so I agreed to go consult with mom every time we needed details. He worked on the speech everyday until Saturday. He is a perfectionist and completion comes when there is no more time for revision! Anyhow, everything turned out great. It was a very sweet moment, both my brothers where there too and in his speech my dad mentioned  that his three children had played on that field. Pierre played goalie, he actually had a bit of a carrier in Paris, Jean-Louis played forward and I was part of the first woman’s team of the town! Dad also mention that his father Joseph Peyrafitte had been at the origin of the stadium.  He had been a team manager when my dad played and in the thirties it was he who actually had facilitated the transfer of the stadium to this location and part of the land had been his at some point.

Team BLS 2010 with Jean Peyrafitte Family & Louis Ferré & Serge Santiveri


Below are many pictures of the moving ceremony with all of us. The ceremony was followed by a soccer game where the local team (now playing in a lower division) won 3-0. It looks like they felt inspired by the brillant history — may they begin their rise to a great future. To conclude as my dad did: Vive le Bagnères-Luchon Sport (the name of the team!) —Photo
© Domy-Luchon