March 16, 2018

The gastronomic meal of the French

During my first year in Paris I participated at many a cooking class. I started with a bang by signing Expat Girl and myself up for a macaron class the first Saturday afternoon we have arrived nearly seven years ago. Over the months I took French croissant classes, chocolate ateliers, how-to-serve-a-French-meal-in-30-minutes, cheese tasting and wine tasting seminars. The highlight must have been the Valentine's Day Chocolate workshop chez Cordon Bleu.

Today I returned to Cordon Bleu for a conference on the gastronomic meal of the French at Unesco. Try getting your head around that as a foreigner! However, having read a few weeks prior that Naples had managed to register the pizza as a cultural heritage I was intrigued as to what the French had to offer!

I learnt that the inscription of the gastronomic meal of the French on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in 2010, reflected a desire to promote culinary practices, to the point of positioning them in an official heritage framework. The profound story of a "good meal" is influenced by the history of the relationships between agriculture, trade, religions and rituals.

This "good food" portrays the important moments in the lives of individuals, with family or friends, celebrating the moment and enjoying life. A living heritage is created on a daily basis in homes and restaurants. This dormant patrimony, made up of forgotten grape varieties and recipes, is a heritage built by mankind, for mankind, on a daily basis.

In other words: the gastronomic meal of the French at Unesco is the representation of a good time!

Where culinary geniuses are born: Le Cordon Bleu

Just look at that view at the end of the line-up.

A serious workstation

Only LE chef is allowed to access this fridge!!!
I wonder what's in it?!?!?!?

Patisserie laboratory... sadly empty at this hour!

One piece of work leftover from a student

Can you spot la Tour Eiffel?!?

Who knew le Cordon Bleu had a "potager" (vegetable garden) on their roof?

The secret to any delicious dish... the herbs!

 After months of renovation the Cordon Bleu moved in to its new Headquarters in 2015.

March 11, 2018

MoMA comes to Paris

Back in Paris mode it was time to hit the Fondation Louis Vuitton to check out the MoMA exhibition before it closed. Rising early to discover it had snowed AGAIN overnight this was to be the perfect backdrop for my photos.

On a freezing cold morning I made my way out to the Bois de Boulogne and arrived way ahead all the crowds... lucky me! No queueing! Living in Paris you do become rather blasé about waiting in line, after all I am NOT a tourist, I live here!

The Louis Vuitton Fondation has done it again and this time they have gathered some unique art pieces, never showcased in France before, under the room of their magnificent foundation.

It’s not every day that the MoMA lends 200 works abroad all at once. Thanks to this exhibition I got to see some great pieces. Paintings, sculptures and digital art by Jasper Johns, Walker Evans, Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Klimt, Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, Dalí, Man Ray, Lichtenstein, Mondrian, Rothko, Walt Disney, Jackson Pollock and Brancusi.

"Le MoMA à Paris" not only showcased works rarely seen in France, but also retraced the history of the famous New York museum through the works it bought along the way to becoming one of the most famous and important museums on the planet. And since many of those paintings have ties to Paris, and ended up in New York because patrons were following the waves of modern art emerging out of both cities, the exhibition feels, at various points, like a mirror being held up from the other side of the Atlantic.

My only regret? The terraces were closed due to ice and sleet, and although the views through the glass panels were magnificent they did not allow for great photography.

Sailboat, vessel, fish or cloud?

From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to "design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France"

Sporting a glittering LV logo at the front door, 
it could also be a gigantic Louis Vuitton perfume bottle.

For 90 years now, the MoMA gives itself over to contemporary fine arts by purchasing the best of world interdisciplinary production. This was its first catalogue.

In 1939, Goodwin, a member of The Museum of Modern Art's Board of Trustees and an architect practicing in the traditional Beaux-Arts style, teamed with Stone, an ardent modernist, to create a building appropriate to the Museum's mission.

With its exhibition “Being modern”, Fondation Louis Vuitton makes a big splash.

A splash of colour that caught my attention.

A detail of the original, dismantled UNESCO steel construction
that nowadays classifies as modern art!?!

Definitely modern art ... but still classic.

Campbell soup cans... a true classic!

Could this shot classify as modern art?

Geometrical lines everywhere you look.

Snow patch and yellow light beams... how about that for modern art?

Listening to the Forty Part Motet (2001) by Janet Cardiff 1957.
The collection, is comprised of 40 standing speakers, each one presenting a different singer from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing “Spem in Alium Nunquam habui” by English composer Thomas Tallis (1505–85).

A dense thicket of steel struts and wooden beams that have been forced into improbable shapes.

The terraces are designed to catch particular views – across to the towers of La Defense and Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre... not today, unfortunately.

March 9, 2018

A Think Pink Hard Hat, UNESCO and my daughter

This year's International Women's Day will go down in family history because when your daughter comes home after school announcing she's been invited to join UNESCO STEM Conference on Empowering Women and Girls in Engineering you are one proud mummy.

What better gift could I have asked for than to see my daughter - whom at 14 years of age is blossoming into a strong, independent, critical thinking, caring young lady - marching off to UNESCO's European headquarters to represent her school?

My outspoken, energetic, dedicated, positive and rather loud teenage tomboy has been selected to attend this very special event and needs to dress in business attire. Kitting herself out with mummy's Parisian black suit and white cotton blouse she cannot hide her femininity any longer and looks like a mini-me. Well, big me is inwardly performing a little celebration dance and bursting of happiness and pride. This is what you want your kids to find... a passion they can follow, a path they can forge and a mission they can excel at.

Honestly, I would hop right on the metro with my daughter to join the conference if I could. I would love to hear what the President of the World Federation of Engineering Organization, the former Chinese Minister of Education, the Ambassador Extraordinary of the Republic of Kenya to UNESCO or the President of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (all women!!!) have to say.

However, it is the next generation's turn to engage, commit and shape their future and reach for the goals they believe in. Determination, enthusiasm and ambition are certainly in ample supply and happily shared amongst Expat girls' peers.

So girls, put on your "Think Pink Hard Hat" and accept the engineering design challenge. A campaign aiming to encourage more young women to consider careers in STEM, especially engineering, and to remove the daunting preconceptions such as the image of men in hard hats.

Listen carefully and let yourself be inspired by Shaesta Waiz, the first female certified civilian pilot from Afghanistan - the "Dreams Soar" pilot who completed a solo round-the-world flight - to dream big and achieve more, maybe even in the field of aviation, who knows?

As the saying goes: the sky's the limit! You go get'em girl!

March 8, 2018

Celebrating Women's Day

"The house does not rest upon the ground, but upon a woman"
Mexican Proverb... one of my favourite.
Happy Women's Day!

March 3, 2018

Swiss comfort food

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”- Edith Sitwell

Food is a lot of people's therapy... when we say comfort food, we really mean that... did you know it releases dopamine and serotonin in your brain that makes you feel good?

Here's my week at home in pictures devouring lots of comfort food on the slopes and by the fireplace.

Nothing like homegrown grapes!

Bündnerfleisch as a starter with lots of Silberzwibeli

Moitié-moitié fondue comme il faut

La religieuse est à moi!

Homemade courgette soup with garlic bread

Ahh, the Bread... mmmh!

Hazelnut macaroons followed by...

... my absolute favourite tea treat: Carac.

A hot choclate to keep warm on a freezing cold day of skiing.

Häsch dini Ovi hüt scho gha?

February 27, 2018

Missing him terribly

Despite having told myself that I would not blog about my big boy leaving home because it was too personal, too close to home literally, I cannot help but miss him terribly. I am sitting at my desk listening to one of his favourite Latin singers and have tears running down my cheeks.

For years his goal has been to enrol in one specific university and I know - after having started his studies last week - he is very happy where he is. Knowing that he has found his passion and is following it in his own best way mixing work with friends and fun gives me serenity. It gives me pride and comfort seeing him fulfil his dream. What more could a mother want than to see her child setting a clear path, following it and succeeding in what he has set his mind on?

I did not give him any rules before he left. I did not make any recommendations. By my book, if hasn't learnt it by now it's too late to teach him anyway. Everything he is suppose to know he has picked up from his dad or had hammered into his head by his mother. His sister keeps him grounded with a complicity that despite their four year gap has them thick as thieves.

I miss his sleepy head in the morning, his grumpy look at breakfast, his deep voice calling down the corridor, his clothes hanging over his chair. I miss seeing him at his desk every time I pass his room, I miss hearing his Latino music blaring out of his stereo. I miss him strolling into the kitchen wondering what's for dinner. I miss his sense of humour, his teasing, his complaining. I miss his tension the days when Napoli soccer team is playing, I miss having a bunch of teenage boys in the house playing playstation and then staying for dinner. I miss his grin, I miss his mischief, I miss him!!!

February 25, 2018

A little Swiss mountain village

While there was a great deal of skiing happening despite the bad weather... mainly by the female contingency of the family, I might add... I did get some shots from the charming village that has been the next best thing to childhood home.

Rougemont nestles into the pre-Alpine landscape and is the highest resort of the Pays-d’Enhaut holiday region in Canton Vaud. The name stems from the red rock outcroppings north of the village.

Rougemont has preserved its rich cultural and architectural heritage to the present day.

 Some of them are over 400 years old and richly embellished with carvings and frescos, decorated with flowers and inscribed with the names of the builder and first owner. 

Old customs contrast with diverse modern leisure activities that are on offer in both summer and winter.

Not much shopping in this corner of the valley...

... but oh so many opportunity to take pictures.

Old tools recycled...

... modern doorbells clashing... 

... endless secrets hidden behind closed doors... 

... even the stacked firewood looks orderly.

Baby, it's cold outside!
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