New-Orleans — Temps/Oralité #2

New-Orleans — Temps/Oralité #2

A couple of years ago I submitted a project for the 21st Joint Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) that was going to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana in June 2008. My project was: From Toulouse (Occitania-France) to Toulouse Street (New-Orleans). The proposal got accepted but I had to withdraw as scheduling and funding didn’t work out. However, I haven’t given up this idea  and I keep adding elements to my files. The idea started when I found out that in 1850 there was a restaurant called : “Le Toulousain” on 732 Toulouse Street, next to Bourbon street, in the French Quarter in New Orleans .

731 Toulouse Street

Café  Toulousain is long gone and is now an Irish Pub called Molly’s Bar. I stopped for a drink, but didn’t see any apparent vestige of the old restaurant. The top picture  is a drawing of Café Toulousain circa 1850 where you can read the name of the owner : J. Loubat. The name is common in New Orleans and so it is in Southern France.  Toulouse is a city in Southern France though Toulouse street was not named after it, but after Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse (1678-1737). He was one of the many children of Louis XIV born out of wedlock (17 are accounted for). Le Comte de Toulouse was the 8th child born out of the king’s relationship with La Marquise de Montespan, whose husband was from Gascony and never recovered.   The Comte Dumaine was the second born from that “bed” — as the French say —  he also got a street named after him in the French Quarter. Toulouse & Dumaine streets run parallel  two blocks apart and are oriented South-Est to North-West.


I am looking forward to dig more into the history of 732 Toulouse Street and I am determined to find out what was on the menu. Were they serving cassoulet? I bet they did!

Another intriguing piece of information I gathered while digging for the Augustus Saint Gaudens project at the New York library, was that a woman named Elvira Peyrafitte (also my last name) was buried at the St.Vincent de Paul Cemetery in New Orleans on December 5th 1915. My mother who keeps our family tree had no records of her. It turned out that the name was most likely Peyrefitte and not Peyrafitte, as mine is. One  thing is sure, both names have the exact same meaning:
peyre,peire/a —from the latin & occitan : stone;  and hitta/o/e (gascon) or fitta /o/e (eastern occitan) : raised.
Yes! my name means:  raised stone or menhir!  Anyhow, even if Elvira was not closely related I decided to try to find her grave.  I traveled by street car & by bus  to the non-touristy neighborhood of Bywater/St.Claude.


The neighborhood was deserted and the cemetery had no living soul except me. Not many graves were kept up. The only flowers were artificial and discolored. It is an old cemetery and here is some info gathered on the website  www.nolacemetaries.com:

These cemeteries [there are 3 Saint Vincent de Paul cemeteries next to each other] were laid out by Pepe Liuia, the famous fencing master of old Creole days. He was connected with the famous Dueling Oaks in city Park [showed in my last blog]. He was well known for teaching New Orleanians fencing skills and encouraged them to engage in mortal combat just for the sake of showing the art. He eventually settled down in the old farm section of New Orleans of what is now known as the St. Claude neighborhood. Some residents still refer to it as St. Vincent De Paul Parish. 6 years after the erection of the parish church, St. Vincent De Paul in 1838, Pepe cut his ground into cemeteries and named them after the patron saint of the parish. The tombs are built in the same order as those of ancient French cemeteries. Pepe Liuia, his wife, and his only daughter are buried here. His home bounded by Clouet, Louisa and Urquhart streets is still overlooking the cemeteries.

I often visit cemeteries alone and abandon myself to the particular energy  that emanates from them. But this one was triggering some awkward and a tad spooky feelings, especially when I entered the “oven vaults” section shown above. There was  long rows of graves, sometimes as much as one hundred of them, with four “ovens” stacked on top of each other up to a height of about 10 feet. I was literally surrounded by long time dead people.  I had to rethink my whole relationship to cemeteries and realized that in most cemeteries we look “down” on the dead.  Here they were all around and looking down to me! I adjusted and surrendered to the new experience and  I got quite excited when deciphering several graves written in French with names  that were very familiar to me.



I couldn’t locate Elvira —the grave location was not very clear so I might have missed it or her tomb stone  was missing, this area had been severally flooded during  hurricane Katrina and some “oven vault” stones are missing— but I sure found some other fellows from my beloved Pyrenees!
There was André Dupuy, born in Lespitau —canton de Saint Gaudens— on November 27, 1837  who died on October 10, 1867. Was he friends with Eléonore Fréchède, born on November 5th 1838 who died on December 20, 1867? She was  born in Betplan in the Canton de Mielan about 50 miles away from Lespiteau. Did they go dancing with André Ibos?   André was born in Villeneuve de Lécussan and died November 19th, 1868, he was 40 years old, about 10 years older the other two. André & Eléonore died the same year, André Ibos the following year. Did they travel together? Did they work at the same business? Did they hang out at Café Toulousain?
Where they friends of J. Loubat? All I can say is that is was another inspiring & humbling time to think of their journey. And if their graves were marked so consciously with their place of origin it was for a reason: they wanted their “paìs” to be remembered. I can relate to that, I like calling myself a Gasco-Ricain, to give a better indication of where exactly I am from. My identity doesn’t come from a “country” but from my geography as (etymologically) “earth describe-write.”
I can smell a performance project on my stove;  The Transcontinental Étouffée / Eth Estouffat Transcontinental! To be continued…
The sky was darkening, rain drops started marking the ground.  I made it in time to the bus stop to catch the bus right before the downpour began. I got off at Esplanade and Nth. Rampart, it was still raining so I stopped at the first restaurant/bar in sight. It was Buffa’s Restaurant & Lounge, the place felt like a neighborhood hangout. The TV, blasting some series or other, kept the waitress and the two customers riveted. The waitress brought the menu keeping an eye on the suspense. The menu had regular bar food offerings and I was about to settle for a salad when at the bottom I read: Rice & Home made Beans $8 add a sausage $10 — perfect! That is what I needed, beans and souls are so closely related!
Had I known how much pork was already in the beans I might have skipped the sausage, but I ate my entire plate, except for the bread! I also ordered a glass of red cab from Oregon to complete my communion. I felt so satisfied and so content. An immanent sacrament where a visible sign of an invisible reality occurred. As I said in the first post:  if one is attentive & tuned in,  a timeless, boundless & profound journey is all yours in New Orleans!




The D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show

The D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show

Wow! Since I returned from Chicago I have not had a chance to post to the blog. It has been insanely busy:

There is the ongoing work on Augustus Saint Gaudens with the documentary script writing advancing slowly but steadily.  I am trying  to clarify some aspects of his father’s life —Bernard Saint-Gaudens— in their early years in NYC. It is quite fascinating to dig into the history of this period and  discover that there was a lot of French political immigrants in NYC. They all mingled at a German tavern called Pfaff’s. I found some evidence that Bernard was among the patrons. A famous client of Pfaff’s was Walt Whitman! Chances are the two men crossed paths. Now that is exciting to me! But this week I had to put Augustus and Bernard on the back burner as I prepared to hang a painting show for the D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show.

Ariane Daguin, president of D’Artagan, is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of her company and it is quite a grand affair. 200 native Gascons have flown over the Atlantic to assist in the celebration.  It all started by a beret toss contest on 14th street an 9th Ave on Thursday at noon. The passersby had never seen such an event. Two festive bands —we call them bandas in the south of France— animated the competition. I was proud to participate and tossed my beret really far …we all took gold, silver and bronze and that was a glass of delicious and crisp Colombelle white wine, tasty Saucisson & hearty paté — provided by d’Artagnan, of course! Ariane and her company have brought a whole new line of food products to the American table. In many ways she is a role model both as a friend and as an entrepreneur.


Photo 1: Nicole tossing the beret.
Photo 2: Ariane Daguin directing the strict contest sponsored by Saint Mont Wine

I can’t really get into the details of all the events, but the one I am most involved with is the art show. I am honored to be one of the Three Gascon Musketeers of Art picked by Ariane. I am also honored to show in the company of celebrated sculptor and rugby player Jean-Pierre Rives and famous Toulousain painter Michel Calvet.  I will show large canvases that have never been exhibited in the US before. I  hope to see you at the public opening on Tuesday February 23rd from 5-7 pm at:

The Musketeers Are Coming!
D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Exhibition

You are cordially invited to a reception with the Gascon artists
Michel Calvet Nicole Peyrafitte Jean-Pierre Rives

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 23
5:00 PM until 7:00 PM
at
THE WORLD BAR (reception)
& DAG HAMMARSKÖLD PLAZA

Complementary appetizers by d’Artagnan & Cash bar

MICHEL CALVET & NICOLE PEYRAFITTE PAINTINGS AT:
WORLD BAR AT THE TRUMP WORLD TOWER
NEW YORK CITY’S PREMIER INTERNATIONAL COCKTAIL LOUNGE
845 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

JEAN-PIERRE RIVES SCULPTURE:
DAG HAMMARSKÖLD PLAZA, Sculpture Platform
“THE GATEWAY TO THE UNITED NATIONS”
47th Street and Second Avenue, South East Corner

Michel Calvet
Nicole Peyrafitte
Jean-Pierre Rives

MERCI ARIANE AND D’ARTAGNAN
“UN POUR TOUS, TOUS POUR UN!”

Lo Magret goes to Paris!

Lo Magret goes to Paris!

André Daguin, chef/owner of the Hôtel de France in Auch (Gers) until 1997, tells how he gave a new life to the tasty magret de canard — and made it famous in the process:

magret

“The magret was served only as “confit” in soups, cassoulets and everyone would find it dry. The only way to avoid that was to cook it less, but no one dared. I had arguments with my customers; they couldn’t believe it was duck meat! Bob Daley, the New York Times journalist, reported on the discovery of this ‘new’ meat.”

In Occitan-Gascon the word magret —from the latin magre, literally means “lean”. It is definitely the leanest piece of the canard gras — that is the fattened moulard duck raised for foie gras. To make moulard ducks fat, force-feeding is required for a few weeks.

A bas relief depiction of overfeeding geese

This ancient technique seems to be referenced as far back as the 5th century BC. The Moulard duck is a hybrid cross of Pekin and Muscovy duck. Do not confuse Moulard with the very lean wild Mallard duck.

magret

The magret is the breast that is detached from the carcass once the liver had carefully being extracted. In the canard gras nothing goes to waste. The skin is rendered for fat; the fat is then used to simmer the legs and manchons (wings). Once cooked this meat is known as le confit. Le confit is then stored in earthenware pots, covered with fat to seal it, and used throughout the winter in various preparations. The hearts (look here), livers, gizzards are pan fried with garlic and parsley, the carcasses (called “demoiselles” —or the misses) & tongues are grilled in the fireplace for snacks.

Speaking of carcasses: in 1990, while  doing an internship at the Daguin’s restaurant I witnessed a “concours de demoiselles” organized by the Château St. Mont in Plaimont (Gers). The goal of the “carcass eating/cleaning contest” is to eat as many demoiselles as possible in the least amount of time while leaving the bones clean as a whistle. The winner then stepped on a Roman scale and the opposite pan was filled with cases of Château St. Mont wine until it balanced!

carte tour Eiffel

Another anecdote related to magret took place at the top floor restaurant of the Eiffel Tower in December of 1967. Jean & Renée Peyrafitte, my parents, & André & Jo Daguin, Ariane’s parents, were handed over the restaurant for La Quinzaine Midi-Pyrénées à la Tour Eiffel —two weeks of French Southwest fare in the skies of Paris — kind of the birth/ recognition of Cuisine du Terroir. I didn’t get to go, but I was 8 years old and I still remember all the excitement. The opening event was a banquet for the food writers and VIP’s. One of the most exciting items on the menu was the newly ‘dressed’ magret de canard. The magrets had been shipped from the Gers to arrive just on time, but on the morning of the event they had not yet arrived. The magrets were replaced with lamb and as in the Vatel story —though unlike Vatel my dad & André Daguin kept their calm and didn’t need to end their lifes over the problem— the magrets arrived during the luncheon. André Daguin, who like his daughter is never short of a creative idea when it comes to p.r., announced to the press that the magrets had just arrived; he showed them what they looked like, explained how to prepare them and one their way out all the diners were handed a magret wrapped in foil.  They got many write-ups, lot of word of mouth publicity and the restaurant was packed for the two full weeks!

Today you can purchase magret through the d’Artagnan website. Some specialty store have duck breast but most of the time there are Muscovy Duck breast, which are good but smaller.  One of my favorite recipe that I used to make often at the family restaurant is Magret with walnut and honey glaze. I made it the other night and yum! it is tasty.

Recipe for Magret aux Noix et au Miel:

magret sauteed

2 Moulard magrets can serve 4
1 Shallot finely chopped
½ cup of Armagnac or Brandy
1 cup of stock or 2 tablespoon of demi-glace
2 teaspoons of honey
2 Tbsp shelled walnuts
1 tbsp of unsalted butter

Score the skin of the duck magret. Do not cut into the meat, only the skin.
Salt and pepper both side.
Place in a warm skillet on the skin side — no need to add  fat, the skin will render plenty.
Cook for about 8 minutes or so on the skin side —if you like it pink. More for well done.
Flip it over on the meat side for about 4 minutes.
Remove from the pan keep the magret between two plates to avoid loss of heat.
Drain the fat from the pan except for about 1 tablespoon—keep fat to sauté potatoes.
Sauté ½ cup of shallots until translucent.
Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of Armagnac and flambé —I alway turn off the fan when I do it.
Add 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 cup of broth or better, some demi-glace.
Let reduce, then add 2 Tbsp shelled walnuts —do not let the walnuts sit too long in the pan as they will give a bitter taste to your sauce.
Cut you magret in slices horizontally, pour all the juice in the sauce pan.
At the last minute finish your sauce with a dollop of soft butter, salt & pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite starch.
Thanks again and again to Renée Peyrafitte for saving & scanning the original documents.
Merci à André Daguin de répondre à mes questions.
And taben mercès pla ta l’amic Marc per l’ajude dab los mots en Gascon!
Adishatz!



Family Heirloom: Les Pannequets Saint-Louis

Family Heirloom: Les Pannequets Saint-Louis

Among all the family recipes Les Pannequets Saint-Louis is truly a unique one, et je pèse mes mots — that is: and I weigh my words — yes: unique, a word I almost never use.

Louis

My great grandfather Louis, Gabriel, Marcel, Marie, Peyrafitte (1858-1929) created this amazing recipe that we still make for very special occasions like this Christmas day when Pierre, Joseph, Miles and I gathered around our kitchen island for a true family food communion.
Pannequets
have been part of the French cuisine repertoire for a long time, though the word derives from the English “pancake”— from the middle English pan +cake that’s an easy one. The famous French chef, Auguste Escoffier, has several entries for pannequets in the Entremets section of his reference work Le Guide Culinaire. So does Joseph Favre in the Dictionnaire Universel de la Cuisine, mentioning an interesting version of pannequets au gingembre — with ginger. They both specify that it is a Patisserie Anglaise or English pastry. Not surprising at all, in fact, that my Pyrenean ancestors would be acquainted with English desserts. In the 1900’s the French Pyrenees were “invaded” by English tourists, the family hotel in Luchon even changed its name: the Hotel de la Poste became the Hotel Poste & Golf ! My family had sold some land so a golf course could be built for to the increasing (colonial) British clientele. Surfing the net to look for traces of my grandfather Joseph’s stay in England (he was there as a cook between 1902-08), I was quite astounded to find the following entry in  “The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe” by Algernon Bastard (probably published around 1903):

Throughout the mountain resorts of the Pyrenees, such as Luchon–Bagnères de Bigorre, Gavarnie, St-Sauveur; Cauterets–Eaux Bonnes, Eaux Chaudes, Oloron, etc., you can always, as was stated previously, rely upon getting an averagely well-served luncheon or dinner, and nothing more — trout and chicken, although excellent, being inevitable. But there is one splendid and notable exception, viz., the Hôtel de France at Argelès-Gazost, kept by Joseph Peyrafitte, known to his intimates as “Papa.” In his way he is as great an artist as the aforementioned Guichard; the main difference between the methods of the two professors being that the latter’s art is influenced by the traditions of the Parisian school, while the former is more of an impressionist, and does not hesitate to introduce local colour with broad effects, — merely a question of taste after all. For this reason you should not fail to pay a visit to Argelès to make the acquaintance of Monsieur Peyrafitte. Ask him to give you a luncheon such as he supplies to the golf club of which Lord Kilmaine is president, and for dinner (being always mindful of the value of local colour) consult him, over a glass of Quinquina and vermouth, as to some of the dishes mentioned earlier in this article. You won’t regret your visit.

The Joseph Peyrafitte (1849-1908) mentioned above is Louis’ brother and therefore my grand father Joseph Peyrafitte’s (1891-1973) uncle who was named after him. Louis & Joseph had married two sisters, Marie & Anna Secail. Anna moved to the Hôtel de France in Argelès-Gazost and Louis Peyrafitte came to Hotel de la Poste in Luchon. The marriages had been arranged by one of the Peyrafitte’s brothers who was a priest at the Vatican with one of the Secail brothers — also a priest. All this is documented — and left a magnificent family heirloom that I inherited: “the Chandelier” but that story is for another blog-post.  Both brothers had been classically trained cooks so one can easily understand how the inspiration for this recipe came about.



Hotel de la Poste in the late 1890’s

My father, Jean Peyrafitte, doesn’t remember his grandfather’s cooking very much  — he was 6 years old when his grandfather Louis died in 1929 — but he vividly remembers his father Joseph Peyrafitte (my grandfather and cooking mentor) making the Pannequet Saint-Louis.
At that time no “grande carte” was available at the restaurant, though there was a menu du jour which changed daily given that the clientele were “pensionnaires” —residents — who would stay for periods of 3 weeks or more.
My grandfather would occasionally put the pannequets on the menu but only during low season, as they are incredibly time consuming. The recipe was not written down until the mid 1960’s. At that point my dad decided to promote regional cooking and to upgrade the restaurant to a “grande carte,” hoping to get attention from the Guide Michelin and Parisian food critics. So he created a “grande carte” full of regional dishes like Pistache (mutton & bean stew), Peteram Luchonnais (lamb, veal, and mutton tripe), duck confit, etcetera.  My grandfather considered this food low class and believed that lobster and tournedos Rossini was more appropriated.

Carte

But my father pointed out that the clients could eat that food anywhere, but not our local specialties. That is when the pannequets Saint-Louis made their way to the dessert menu of the  grande carte and were listed as “Les Excellences to be ordered at the beginning of the meal (order for 2 minimum)”.

Now this is the part I remember. In the late 60’ my mother begged my grandfather to write the recipe down. He said he couldn’t as he knew it by instinct. She didn’t get discouraged. She stood by him as he was making them, weighed the ingredients one by one and made a note of it. I must say that without my mother (Renée Peyrafitte) most of the family memory would be gone.

When I called my parents to talk about the Pannequet Saint-Louis recipe I reassure them that I wasn’t going to give the recipe away. Mom said, “don’t worry no one else can make them anyway.” What she meant is that this recipe takes total dedication. When my grandfather grew old, it was she who was entrusted with the task of making them. She tried to teach a few cooks but the result was never satisfactory.  One of the reasons is that from making the batter to cooking them requires total and utterly focused attention. And if you don’t do that the best dessert in the world turns into the worst glob!

Nicole Peyrafitte

I must say that since a little girl I watched my grandfather & then my mother making them over and over. My favorite post of observation during “service” was in the corridor where I could survey all the action. As soon as I would hear an order for pannequets being “barked,” I would get into position to assist and taste!  I have memorized all the gestures. Unlike the regular crêpes the pannequet doesn’t get flipped (but come and see me do that Sunday at the 36th Annual New Year’s Marathon). Once one millimeter of the batter is poured into a hot and generously buttered cast iron pan, it is let to cook until almost, but not completely, dry. Then the edge of the dough next to the handle is gently detached with a spoon and if cooked perfectly the batter will roll down the pan like a cigarette helped only by little tap in the pan. A perfect pannequet Saint-Louis has a very lightly crisp skin on the outside and custard like consistency on the inside. While the texture melts in your mouth, the rum, almond, lemon & vanilla flavors lead you to gastronomic ecstasy!  I don’t know if my great grandfather named the pannequet “Saint”-Louis himself, but I doubt it — it sounds more like one of those mischievous puns my grandfather Joseph Peyrafitte was famous for!


Hotel de la Poste became Hotel Poste & Golf around 1905

Happy New Year, Bona Anada, Bonne Année!
And hope to see you Sunday for poetry and crêpes at the Poetry Project for the 36th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading .

ps: You might enjoy reading these 2 posts about crêpes:
Crêpes History, Recipe + Video:
The Crêpe, the Theorist, the Chef and the Volunteer

Barked Memories

Barked Memories

cia
August 21st 2009 / Lunch Time
Culinary Institute of America
The American Bounty Room

I am back in the Mid-Hudson Valley to accompany Miles for the last three days of the Muttnik shoot. I cannot resist returning to the C.I.A. This time I’ll have lunch at one of the “big” restaurants, preferably at the “Escoffier” or the “Villa de Medici.” No, I didn’t make a reservation and therefore I will not be “accommodated” in either of these rooms. Now my choices are: the “American Bounty Room” or return to the “Apple Pie Bakery Café.” No hesitation, I am on my way to the “American Bounty room.” I am ushered to a table for two facing the open kitchen. The setting before me is removed; I sit on the banquette across the “Julia Child Rotisserie Kitchen.” Two rows of antique rolling pins frame the sign. Below it, two impeccable pastry students are busy setting up dessert plates. The reverent & courteous student/waiter brings me the menu and offers cocktails. A quick look confirms that I will have the Dr. Frank Rkatsitelli, Vinifera 2006 from the Finger Lakes. I have read the online wine and lunch menu; it is easy for me to scan through and to decide on:

Sautéed Halibut ($16)
Sweet Manila Clams, Soffrito Rice, white Wine Broth
(sorry no pix, remember? not allowed inside the school)

And then starts an annoying conversation with two of my selves (I’m a Gemini):
Moi 1: “I am really overindulging by coming twice for lunch at the CIA in the same week.”
Moi 2: “But, I am here for a reason.”
Moi 1:“Oh! Yeah and what is the reason?”
Moi 2:“ Well, I’m gonna write about it on my blog!”
Moi 1: “Again?”

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy writing the blog, but sometimes it feels like self-inflicted homework. English is not my first language and I am not a born writer. Why do I do it then? In different ways, whether I draw, sing or write, I find myself doing the same thing: I dwell on a particular situation and seek its “essence.” Using the blog gives a very convenient format, as it allows for all my interest to converge. But today feels like having a “still day.” I put my pen down, close my notebook and sip my wine.

Yum! the wine is crisp, clean & light. It reminds me some of the wines from Luxembourg. Rkatsitelli is an ancient grape from Georgia (Old world not USA!). I had it once before and liked it.  Dr. Konstantin Frank wines are always interesting.

What is that human barking coming out of the kitchen? Every time one of the kitchen doors opens — there is one on each side of the kitchen window, one to get in & one to get out — we can hear the “aboyeur” (literal translation: the barker) dispatching orders. In this case an “aboyeuse” as it is a female announcing the orders to the appropriate station of the kitchen.  This is a strategic position in a brigade system kitchen. Wow! I am having a flashback, and next thing I know I pick up pen and notebook:

I am a little girl in the corridor of the “office” of the family hotel. The “office” was the upstairs kitchen where some dessert and cold foods were prepared and most of all where the manual dumb waiter delivered the food from the downstairs kitchen. The orders were shouted into a speaker-phone. Then one copy of the order slip was sent down, the first carbon copy pinned on to the board next to “le passe” —that’s how we called the dumb waiter— , the third carbon copy was kept by the waiter to add any supplements and then sent out to the cashier to make the bill.

Hotel Poste & GolfI was born in this hotel, in my parents’ bedroom just above the action and almost in the midst of it. It was June 18, 1960 at noon; the restaurant was running at full capacity. There was a banquet for a 100 top, the annual banquet luncheon for the Master Accountant Guild of the Southwest France region. The interesting fact is that my maternal grandfather, Maurice Gallot, was the president of the guild! My father didn’t get to see me until after the banquet was under control. My mother and I were in good hands between the midwife and her uncle who was a surgeon. My mother still remembers that my maternal grandfather bought champagne for the entire party! As far as the memory of the birth itself is concerned, she would always say: “C’est le mal joli,  quand c’est fini on rit!” “It’s the pretty pain — once it’s over one laughs!.” She is always very positive! In case you are curious to know what was served the day of my birth, here it is taken from my grandfather  agenda/menu book. The left side of the page  is the regular Menu du Jour and the right side is the menu for the banquet.

Menu June 18th 1960

Page left:
Lunch:
Hors d’Oeuvres (I have a post on this here) & Cantaloup
Trout Meunière
Entrecôte & Pommes Frites
(always served with Beurre Maître d’Hôtel)
Wild Stawberries & Fresh Cream

Dinner:
Soup du Jour
Braised duck with Garniture Printanière (diced spring veggies)
Asparagus (most likely served with hollandaise sauce)
Peaches

Page right:
The Banquet Menu
Consommé en tasse — cold consommé served in porcelain cup.
Langouste à la Parisienne — rock lobster in a sort of aspic glazed or a.k.a chaudfroid
Grilled chicken à l’Américaine — chicken crapaudine that is first grilled, then covered in a mustard sauce, then breaded and finished in the oven.
Salade Rachel — according the Escoffier cookbook: Equal parts of truffle shavings, rooster kidneys, celery ribs cut into thick julienne, asparagus tips. Light liaison with a thin mayonnaise.
Coupe Poste & Golf It could be anything my grandfather felt like making! probably some sort of home made ice cream with liquor a fruits topped Chantilly and served with a cookie)

Café/Armagnac/ Liquors
Vin Nature de Champagne Abelé Sourire de Reims

I would like to make that menu for one of my birthdays! maybe for the big 50!
By the way I thank you very much for your comments about the blog on Facebook, but I would really appreciate if you would comment directly on the blog. Merci!