Chantons Les Cornichons!

Sunday afternoon I was at the The Tenth Annual NYC International Pickle Day where  pickles from around the world were featured, celebrated and sampled—list of participants here. The event is organized by the New York Food Museum & The Lower East Side Business Improvement District. This year the Umami Food & Art Festival curated the first performance and art event at the festival where I was invited to offer some pickle poetry. My origins demanded that I focus on the cornichons a.k.a gherkins.

The video above features my cornichon poem written for the occasion and set to the music of the well know composer and  famous gastronome Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). The title of the composition is: Hors d’Oeuvres III : Les Cornichons — and this is not a joke.  Quatre Hors d’Oeuvres et Quatre Mendiants are part of Rossini’s last sets of compositions called “Dernier Pêché Mortel, de Vieillesse” or in English:  “Sins of Old Age”. These unpublished late compositions (1857-1868), now compiled in 14 volumes, were meant to be performed at private occasions in the composer’s drawing room.  Below are the details of Volume/ Book 4:

Quatre (4) Hors d’Oeuvres:
[The Hors d’Oeuvres here refer to appetizers]
I- Les Radis –
radishes
II- Les Anchois –  anchovies
III- Les Cornichons-  gherkins
IV- Le Beurre – butter

The Quatre (4) Mendiants:
[Mendiants refer to dried fruits and one of the Thirteen desserts of the Noel Provençal. Each fruit is supposed to represent the robe color of four monk orders]
Les Figues sèches – dry figs  — Carmel order
Les Amandes – almonds —Dominican order
Les Raisins- raisins —Franciscan order
Les Noisettes – hazelnuts
Capuchins order

This occasion lead me to reconnect with the marvelous Franco-Italian  singer-song writer Nino Ferrer (1934-1998). I learned his “Les Cornichons” and even if you don’t know French, do listen to it. Nino Ferrer was a very interesting artist who had quite a successful carrier. His background included studying anthropology with André Leroy Gourhan and accompanying jazz musicians like Richard Bennett & Bill Coleman. Voilà — and merci beaucoup to  Françoise Bevy for the photos. Enjoy!