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For a while now, Frenchified has been Stultified, i.e. on the back burner whilst I’ve been struggling with unprecedented workload and exhaustion. No longer. I miss writing about France, so I’m dusting off the blog and preparing to give it some renewed OOMPH. Thank you for being patient and if things are a bit quiet here as I give Frenchified some much-needed CPR, please do visit me at my other blog, Epicurienne.

Here’s a photo of the menu from the restaurant at the top of the Centre Pompidou. It has dazzling views over Paris and features as a location in various films, like le Divorce, starring Kate Hudson.

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La Tranche Sur Mer, on the Atlantic Coast of France, is one of those typically Euro beach destinations: lots of camping grounds, men who think it’s okay to terrify the female public by strutting around in a pair of form-revealing speedos, kids dragging giant inflatable animal-shaped float-aids along the street and lots and lots of ice cream shops. I can’t actually work out how all the different ice cream shops make any money because there are so many of them, but practicalities aside, they are skilled in the art of displaying their products in ways that make you not just want ice cream but physically NEED it.

The vendors accessorise their ice cream to show what taste you’ll be licking off the cone. In the top picture, the nutella ice cream was indicated by a whole jar of nutella stuck into the top of its vat. In the picture above, strawberries show that the red ice cream is strawberry flavoured. That’s what I call ingenious ice cream merchandising.  Then below we have limes showing lime ice cream and flowers to indicate… what exactly? It can’t be flower ice cream.  Perhaps it’s almond. Those flower petals look suspiciously like dragées and some couples give sugared almond flowers to the guests on their wedding day.

The shot below isn’t great but I have yet to work out what Arlequin ice cream is. Hundreds and thousands sprinkled over the top… all different colours… could be tutti frutti, I guess. I’ve googled and still can’t work it out. If you read this and know what Arlequin ice cream tastes like, please let me know!

Monsieur and I didn’t even glance at the dessert card at the restaurant where we’d dined that evening. We paid the bill, walked out onto the still-busy street, found an ice cream stand where the ‘accessorising’ was particularly good, and ordered. I had a two scoop cup with coconut and guimauve.

“How do you translate guimauve into English?” I asked Monsieur.

“I don’t really know.” Came his reply.

Qu’est-ce que c’est, la guimauve?” I asked the ice cream man.

La guimauve, c’est, euh, la guimauve!”

He gave a gallic shrug, throwing his hands up into the air. Monsieur and the ice cream man were of no help to me at all. Looking at the display, the guimauve ice cream was studded with multi-coloured marshmallow twists on sticks. I hoped that when I ordered guimauve flavour, the taste would indeed be marshmallow, and it was. That’s another reason why this sort of merchandising is so clever: it helps foreigners like me to understand what they’re eating…

Un puits sans fond

This sign hangs outside a Chambres d’Hôte or B&B on the Ile de Ré. What I love most about this is the name:

La Maison du puits sans fond

Roughly translated, that means The House of the Bottomless Well. It sounds like a fairy story waiting to be written. Sadly, when you look up a dictionary definition, the term ‘puits sans fond’ is far less romantically translated into ‘bottomless pit’.

There are also songs called ‘Puits sans fond’.

Here’s one by a group called Vulgaires Machins. I’m not so sure about their name but their Puits sans fond gets 5 stars on You Tube, so here they are:

As you may or may not realise, things have been a bit quiet around Frenchified of late. You can blame the Dutch for that. I won a competition to go to Blog08, a bloggers’ conference in Amsterdam, through vowing to wear Big, Wooden, Netherlandish clogs all day long if I won. Apparently, that was funny, so I won and jetted off to the land of wooden shoes to learn what I could about blogging. As part of my competition pledge I also had to set up Clogblogger, a site devoted to clogs. That meant no time for Frenchified.

One of the great things about going to Blog08 was meeting new people. One new acquaintance, Natasha Cloutier, hails from Canada but has lived in the Netherlands for some time. As you can probably tell from her name, Natasha lived in the francophone part of Canada, and therefore has a passion for French language and culture, especially French music.

Natasha’s site, Oh La La, concentrates on French sounds from the 50s right up to present day. She even creates downloadable podcasts with some of her latest favourites, so if you feel like Frenchifying your MP3 player, tune in to Radio Oh La La and tap your feet to everything from classic Gainsbourg croons through to the retro beat of César et ses Romains. Enjoy.

Thanks to ThePolskiBlog’s blogroll, I have today found a fantastic French food blog based in Austin, Texas of all places! Called The French Fork, it’s the blog-child of Laetitia Bertrand, a French native with a no-nonsense approach to French gastronomy. Because I can’t say it any better myself, here’s Laetitia’s blog profile:

Laetitia Bertrand was born in Bourgoin-Jallieu, France, and was raised in the small village of Bouvesse, just outside of France’s gastronomical capital, Lyon. Passionate about food, she was influenced by both her grandparents’ cooking from an early age. Today, she aspires to take the mystery out of French cooking – believing that French cooking does not have to be hard, or complicated. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, where they pursue a French lifestyle and split time between Texas and France.

Laetitia’s latest posts include gratin dauphinois and a recipe for zucchini soup made with La Vache Qui Rit. It would seem we share a love of those cheese triangles. Believe it or not (and remember, I’m a Pacific-born kid) the first time I ever had La Vache Qui Rit was in Honolulu. We were there on a family holiday, staying at a self-catering apartment with a fantastic pool complex. We shopped for provisions at a local corner store, and that’s where we first bought La Vache Qui Rit cheese. It was called Laughing Cow there, for obvious reasons, but I loved the happy cow face on the packaging and it’s one of those brands which is so strong that it hasn’t needed changing since. In fact, bearing in mind that my Honolulu introduction to the happy vache was just less than thirty years ago, that has to be a superb example of brand survival.

I digress. Visit Laetitia at The French Fork for practical culinary inspiration but I’d suggest you eat something first. This is the sort of site that makes you hungry.

Just to let you know that I have hundreds of things to post about concerning the Frenchified world, but a bloggers’ competition has come between me and abundant posting time. I entered the competition to win a ticket to Blog08 and Essential Travel threw in the flights and travel insurance, so later this week I will be at my very first Blogference, wearing a big pair of clogs to promote the concept that won me the competition: Clogblogger. If you want to catch me, click here. Or here. And before you know it, I’ll be back HERE.

As it’s the anniversary of 9-11, here’s a very relevant clip from Renaud and Axelle Red:

And here are the lyrics:

Petit Portoricain, bien intégré quasiment New-yorkais
Dans mon building tout de verre et d’acier,
Je prends mon job, un rail de coke, un café,

Petite fille Afghane, de l’autre côté de la terre,
Jamais entendu parler de Manhattan,
Mon quotidien c’est la misère et la guerre

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant,
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

Un 747, s’est explosé dans mes fenêtres,
Mon ciel si bleu est devenu orage,
Lorsque les bombes ont rasé mon village

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant,
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

So long, adieu mon rêve américain,
Moi, plus jamais esclave des chiens
Vite imposé l’islam des tyrans
Ceux là ont-ils jamais lu le coran ?

Suis redev’nu poussière,
Je s’rai pas maître de l’univers,
Ce pays que j’aimais tellement serait-il
Finalement colosse aux pieds d’argile ?

Les dieux, les religions,
Les guerres de civilisation,
Les armes, les drapeaux, les patries, les nations,
Font toujours de nous de la chair à canon

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant,
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle

Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant,
Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle.

If you’d like to read more about this song, which was released to great acclaim in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, click here.