Chantons Les Cornichons!

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 These unpublished late compositions (1857-1868), now compiled in 14 volumes, were meant to be performed at private occasions in the composer’s drawing room.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 –
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!

Augustus Saint Gaudens On Line

Augustus Saint Gaudens On Line

The Adam’s memorial, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
This sculpture was
commissioned by Henry Adams who asked Saint-Gaudens to create a memorial for his wife, Clover Adam, who had taken her own life .

Those who have been following both my blog & facebook postings, might remember  the various references I make on Augustus Saint Gaudens.

Augustus Saint Gaudens was born in 1848 in Dublin, Ireland and died in 1907 in Cornish, New-Hampshire. The reason I got involved in this project is because Augustus’ father, Bernard, was born in Aspet in 1816. Aspet is a village 28 miles away from my home town. In 2005 I was approached by Françoise Sarradet, a Saint Gaudens’ aficionados from Aspet who was then president of the French Association “Les Amis d’Augustus Saint-Gaudens”, to create a performance to celebrated the 100th anniversary of  the sculptor’s death in 2007. The goal was to generate more awareness about the sculptor local origins and to preserve that memory. It is important to note here that Augustus Saint Gaudens was never well known in France. So, showing how famous he was in the United States and bridging the local connection was the goal of this first performance.

Bernard Augustus and Homer Saint Gaudens
Bernard, August and Homer Saint Gaudens

Over the years several projects have developed, but I feel that the real meaning of  this quest revealed itself while I was working on developing a script for a documentary about his life. I realized that I was not only interested in showing the artist’s oeuvre and his incredibly successful interaction with the art world of the time, but more by “walking in their shoes”. I found out that Augustus’ father, was a serious radical hanging out at Pfaff’s Tavern with Whitman, Clemenceau, Mark Twain to name a few. I was also made aware that there was not one piece of public art in New York when the Saint Gaudens’ family arrived in the city in 1848! So by shadowing their life I re/discovered the country where I live today (NYC/USA) and the place where I come from (the Pyrenees). I found their past in my present , and my present in their past.  I am also an immigrant and generating a “dynamic” memory that can be inscribed in our becoming became essential and exciting.

List of projects:


2006— Itinerant residency visiting all the major sites hosting Saint Gaudens’ work in order to develop a performance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the famous sculptor’s death in Aspet. Project commissioned by the Association les Amis d’Augustus Saint Gaudens & funded by the Conseil Regional de Midi Pyrenées. See photos  here

-The show “Augustus Saint Gaudens returns to His Fatherland” was performed in Aspet in 2007 & in Luchon in 2008. Both shows featured the incredible French baritone Jean Ribet & my son Miles Joris-Peyrafitte as the best stage manager. The Conseil Général de la Haute-Garonne funded partially this project along with several local sponsors. The two short videos below are live excerpts from the 2007 show. We had a lot of fun and I cooked a pretty unusual “saupiquet” that was fed to the audience at the end of the show. I will talk more about this recipe in the future.

Jean Ribet sings “Arrenoulat” (the swallow). Song  in Gascon written by André Bouery (1821 – 1879) a contemporary of Bernard Saint Gaudens. Arrenoulat is the —almost lost— anthem of the village of Aspet.

-In 2009 Yoan Rumeau asked me to write an extensive article in the scholarly history bi-annual La Revue de Comminges. I did and for this project I am in debt to my husband Pierre Joris for his editing.

-In April 2010 I presented an illustrated conference for the ACF (U.N French Cultural Association). Thank you to Françoise Bevy & Mme Françoise Cestac. Madame Cestac has a big fan of Augustus Saint Gaudens work for years.

-Then, last May, I completed the script for a documentary for now called: “Une En/quête- Collectages sur la Vie et l’Oeuvre Augustus Saint Gaudens”. This was certainly the most painful piece of work I have done so far on this project or at the matter fact on any other.  I never gotten so close to being fried & eaten live! As my therapist said in the thick of it: “Nicole, this is the graduate program!” I learned a lot about the movie business, script writing,  how to deal with undermining colleagues, and got the best  workout on self confidence. So with the support of my husband, my family & great friends I pulled through!  Needless to say that at this point I will pursue this project until it makes it on the screen weather I’ll get it done this life or next!

-The  latest component I am working on is a website gathering all the info regarding my projects on Augustus. For now it is in French,  an English version will be added sooner or later. So for now go brush up on your French @ :


There is a long list of people to thank and they know who they are. Though I want to mention a few institutions that trusted me enough to share their resources and passion for Augustus Saint Gaudens & without whom I couldn’t have even begin:

Henry Duffy, Gregory Schwartz & the staff at the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site
Thayer Tolles at the Metropolitan Museum
The librarians at The Rauner Special Libary at Dartmouth College
Marie-Laure Pellan at the  Musée de Saint Gaudens
Les Amis d’Augustus Saint-Gaudens —their past & present president & members.
I really need to mention my parents Jean & Renée Peyrafitte who are the first who shared their passion for Augustus Saint Gaudens.

To be continued!

Tsatsawassa 11th annual Poetry BBQ

Tsatsawassa 11th annual Poetry BBQ

Saturday July 3rd 2010 was the 11th  annual Tsatsawassa Poetry BBQ. Once again Bernadette Mayer & Phil Good opened their house to soulful poetry & food. Master of ceremony Dave Brinks flew from Nola with coolers filled with what might be the last delicacies from Louisiana for a while. This year’s festival mood was  blackened by the Deep Water Horizon oil gushing.

Tsatsawassa2010 A lot of the poetry spoke to the disaster and every morsel of Dave’s magnificent Jambalaya was taken as communion. Pierre Joris and I collaborated in making sangria and lamb burgers. A proud moment for us: our son Miles Joris-Peyrafitte gave his first public poetry reading, and so did his good friend Tommy Panitz. Miles also accompanied my reading.

With Alyssa and Katie we had great fun later in the night  making  an improvised dessert in the Round Pudgy Pie Iron —a.k.a as a Hobo Pie Iron—Alyssa had brought.  We made two batters. Katie’s batter was a mix of left over corn meal cake mix, flour & oil. Mine was 2 biscuits crumbled, milk, egg & banana. We poured melted butter in the iron, warmed it up and then  poured the batter. We propped the iron on a rock to make sure it would stay flat. The cakes need to be flipped after a few minutes depending where the pie irons are in the fire. We flambeed the banana ones with brandy, and served the corn cakes with honey and goat yogurt on top. Yummy!

You can view all the pictures on the website below. There is over 100 pictures so make sure you see all of them!

There will be more pix and notes on Dan Wilcox blog in the next few days.

Grass Snake / Couleuvre

Grass Snake / Couleuvre

More painting, listening, writing, practicing than cooking the last few weeks. Below a text and a painting.
Many meanings, thoughts, influences, mythologies come into play here but also the french saying: faire avaler des couleuvres, literally: “to make someone swallow grass snake” meaning: “to have to do or accept something that one doesn’t want to”.

Couleuvre /Grass Snake
“To whom it may concern”


Mouth Vulva
Snake Vulva
Vulva Mouth
Mouth Snake

Once I saw it
Pain disappeared
And you with it
Your slime de bully
Lubricates me now
And heal the “self”
Inflicted wounds
Thank you!

NP/ March 2010

Abstractions & Voyage

Abstractions & Voyage

Georgia O’Keeffe, Series I—No. I, 1918. Oil on composition board, 19 3/4 × 16 in. (50.2 × 40.6 cm). Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Purchase with assistance from the Anne Burnett Tandy Accessions Fund 1995.8. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Pierre and I are en route to Chicago. We will take the train tomorrow and we have reserved a “roomette”, that is a sleeping car for two with all meals included.  It is our 2oth anniversary and as we  both have work to do in Chicago (see the announcement for Pierre Joris’ reading at the end of the post) we decided that 40 hours of confinement —that is if there are no delays— will be  ideal to enjoy…or test our relationship!
More recipes and food reports will come soon. Meanwhile I am leaving you with a poem I wrote after a very inspiring visit to the Georgia O’Keefe: Abstraction show at the Whitney Museum. The piece was written using some titles of the paintings and a few lines from the Sarabeth’s advertisement brochure I had picked up at the coat check and used as a note pad. I read it at the Bowery Poetry Club on Sunday and you can read and hear it below. Voilà for now and off to the windy city!

Click here to hear the recording

January 7th, 2010 —
For & W/ Georgia O’Keeffe
By Nicole Peyrafitte

Inside a clam shell
In the evening
Clam shell again
Painted and pungent
Red Black & Night

Black place #1
Black place #2
Black place #3

A wonderful redefinition
Of yellow sweet peas
An impressive wave
In the pool
In the woods
In lake George
Pink & green

Alligator pears
Shipped to Alaska
Red & pink
Ballet skirt or
Electric light
We will not be responsible
For black abstraction

At the rodeo
Music pink & blue #2
On Wednesdays only
A train
At night
In the desert
Black white & blues

The touchstone; a portrait
Or jack in the pulpit
A piece of wood
Sandwiches, snacks, pastries, muffins
Coffee and desserts
All above the clouds in 1963
Very special

Special #8
Special #12
Special #17

A tent door
At night
Everything she created
Blue & green
Though pelvis series
Red & yellow
Watch for the opening
My last door
Black door
With red
Yolk like
Ever morphing feelings
Cosmic walk
Untitled red wave
Eggshell abstraction with


For your information:
Pierre Joris’ reading in Chicago :
Chi Reading
Fri Jan 29 5:30pm


Joan Flasch Artists Book Center on the SAIC ‘campus,’
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL –
(312) 899-5170