Monday, March 24, 2014

Salad with a side of politics

Oh, dear me.

Well, here is the deal. Last night, while watching the municipal election results roll in from around France, I was pacing the room violently, sloshing the red wine in my glass as I did so, until worked up to a fuming pitch, I swore to myself that I was going to write a tirade of a post today. 

And yet, I just can't quite do it. Not yet, at least. 

Am I angry/afraid/appalled that the extreme right Front National party made such a large advance over their numbers from four years ago? Indeed I am. So much so that I find myself slightly stunned and waiting eagerly for next Sunday to arrive for the final round of voting with a desperate hope for a "Say it isn't so" moment. 

Here in Arles, Herve Schiavetti, the current mayor, has the lead but with only 38% of the vote, while the FN candidate has a whopping 24%. Really? In Arles? Such a second place status was rampant, especially in the South of France and in nearby towns like Avignon, Saint-Gilles, Tarascon and Beaucaire, the FN so far has the lead often with just shy of the 50% needed to have won in the first round.

So, for lunch today, I knew just what to make. It is one of my favorite winter into spring salads but is also quite bitter. Parfait

Endive, beet and blue salad
for 2 people (any more and you might have political disputes)

3 heads of endive, sliced into rounds and sliced in two
Top with:
cooked beets, diced
sprinkling of dried cranberries and/or golden raisins
a sliced apple for crunch
ample amounts of crumbled good blue cheese (I used a bleu d'Auvergne)
sliced nuts on top

Sweet mustard vinaigrette
2 soup spoons of Dijon mustard
2 soup spoons of a sweet vinegar 
(I used a mix of crème de noix - aka nuts - and balsamic with lavender honey)
4 soup spoons of good olive oil
salt, pepper and herbes de Provence to taste
Whisk the mustard and vinegar together then add in the olive oil by two's, adjust to your preferred consistency and taste.

 To read an article in the New York Times on this subject (not the salad): please click here.

For those of you wishing to learn more about the background of the Front National party, please click here (and don't miss the founder's denial of the Holocaust and the current interest in deporting unemployed immigrants...*cough cough*)

To read a previous post that speaks of this party, please click here.

As for Ben and Kipling?

They have both made their point of view clear: "Wake me when it's over."

Just to balance out the amertume?

Here is the beautiful opening to the new collaboration between Bonobo and Late Night tales. The entire album is just wonderful...

Have a great week everyone...

PS. Thank you all so very, very much for your overwhelming response via comments and emails about Remi's first story in National Geographic magazine. We both are extremely moved and grateful.


  1. It is scary to think about the gains the FN party made in yesterday's voting. Like you, I wait with great interest for next Sunday. On a much more pleasant topic, I bought the new National Geographic and Remi's pictures are amazing. The story about the boat is quite amazing as well. I shared your post with my son-in-law who is a budding professional photographer so he can see what hard work and dedication can get you. He is good, had some front page pictures above the fold for the San Francisco Chronicle, NY Times papers and for some of the outlets of the European Press Agency. But Remi's work is something very special.

    1. I can only imagine how happy you are to see that Sablet is not touched by this, Michel. It really scares me, deeply. You know as well as I how big of a riff there is in France and I don't see it getting better any time soon...
      Sending all of my Best Wishes for your son-in-law. It is truly a hard path, especially now. But it sounds as though he is on his way! Thank you for your kind words.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. This sounds about 'right' all round... There were shared looks of dismay around here last evening, while reading...

    1. If you could have seen me during TF1 and that ....(will bite my tongue)...talking soooo self-righteously...!!!

  4. Heather, I just wrote a lengthy (for me....) comment and it has disappeared. Then I did a 'test' comment and it went through. Ugh!

    Anyway, I'll try one more time. I saw your post after just finishing the NYT article on the elections in France and was also horrified and angry. I'm definitely in the "say it isn't so" mode right along with you.

    Thanks also for the recipe, it may be our dinner tonight. I had a weekend of food debauchery in Brooklyn while visiting my son. Amazing ramen and pie, both sweet and savory, for breakfast two mornings in a row at a little cafe started by two sisters, aptly called "Four and Twenty Blackbirds."

    1. I can't wait to hear more about your trip! The Mercury Lounge is a really, really big deal but I guess you know that by now. :) And it sounds like great eats were to be had! No need to do petance - you deserved it! Bday food is all for the best!

    2. Ps. Sorry about the disappearing comment! I am having one of those wonky Blogger phases - hoping it will pass soon...

  5. Heather, I think Ben and Kipling have the right idea - and I think your salad has just the right amount of bitterness, too. Sad to say I feel the same way much of the time when I watch the news here. Scary to think how much this shameful mindset still wins out in places all around the world...

    Here's to brighter, more balanced days. XOXO

  6. Brilliant mix. I am going to try your salad, H. (Don't spill the wine, love. But do break the bread. Love and oneness.)

    1. Looked at the recipe again. Lavender honey. Double brilliance.

    2. As always, a word or two to get me straightened out. Merci, Suze.

      And we are so lucky to be able to stock up on really good such treats (I know that a lot of people only use "straight up" basalmic but I can't afford it!) when we go to the cabanon in the Luberon. Evencio makes them all and they are all (plus the truffle olive oil) really amazing. Hope you like!

  7. Oh, Heather, surely you know?.....just travel a bit further South into Languedoc/Rousillon (Herve's great-aunt just died, so I suppose we have a house there, also, now) , and see what you find (if you happen to be interested in things beyond the scenery comparatively inexpensive real-estate)......

    Take a look into what Dana Facaros and Michael Pals (they write for Cadogan) have referred to as "The Best Political Show in France"---------the various dealings of Montpellier's Georges Freche and the UMP's (and, by extension, the Front National) Jacques Blanc.

    Can we start with a popularly & regularly elected man who said that the Harkis (as you and Remi will no doubt know, those would be the Algerians who fought for French Rule in the 1950's) were "subhuman", and who was kicked out of the comparatively tame Socialist party for claiming that the French National soccer team had too many black players???????

    South-Eastern France (however much I enjoy visiting there, which I've done regularly for twelve years) is a place I would never live in.....anymore than I would live in Mississippi (where I was raised for the first five years of my life (1960-65, approximately) before my parents left in disgust (and some fear, to be honest) and took us all back to Tennessee (where we're all actually from).

    There's a very good reason Herve is an expatriate. Ask him about it, sometime.

    Advisedly as ever,

    David Terry

    1. P.S. For some reason, I'm not allowed to edit comments here. The name is "Michael PAULS" (a very fine and surprisingly amusing writer, along with Ms. Facaros).

    2. They are wonderful writers, David. Their guide to the South of France is still the only one that I suggest to people.

      And it will be no surprise to you that in Perpignan, the FN is the front-runner for the moment...and here? We are virtually surrounded. Needless to say, we are all also waiting to hear about the elections for our upcoming move. No way that either Remi (last name: Benali) and this foreigner are going to live in a FN stronghold.

      Sadly, I know of all the stories to which you refer. The tip of an iceberg that runs deep and wide.

      I can't edit my comments either, for info! Probably a more technically adept person could but you know me, if I could, I would be writing this in pencil.


    3. "And it will be no surprise to you that in Perpignan, the FN is the front-runner for the moment..."

      Bingo, Heather....the house is in old-town Argeles-sur-Mer (a bit north of Perpignan, as you'll know). Herve's 1/4 Jewish (ironically enough, via great-Aunt Yvonne's mother). That doesn't matter one way or another (even IF he told everyone he met) hereabouts, but he claims that it would make a Very Great difference if we actually tried to live in Argeles or Elnes.


    4. P.S. just for the record, and in the interests of maintaining a complete racial profile of your fans (who knows when this might be requested of you)?....

      Herve's 1/4 Jewish (completely Jewish,. I suppose, by some standards, since it's through his mother's mother, et al). Ironically enough, the Jewish portion of his "bloodline" is the only genuinely French bit of him; the rest is entirely Russian&Irish political emigres from 1920 or so (they all married-into and settled in Tours).

      We don't spend a lot of our time wondering over and over again why Marie Le Pen never invites us over for a cook-out in her backyard. At least I'm a blonde, blue-eyed, 20th generation'd think that would gain us SOME sort of credit/entree with the FN.......but no.

      Ooooops...I forgot for a moment.....we're also homosexualists. I guess we'll just stay where we are, then.

      Best of luck to all of us,

      David Terry

  8. Sadly, I think that here in Europe the far Right will rise again. I rarely follow politics but I feel that the undercurrents are there. Even this far south they are being felt.

  9. The politics we must be wary of: but the salad is to be embraced. I vote for salad. It makes more sense than divisive rhetoric xx

  10. All one can do is to fight for worthy causes and try to keep the light lit a little bit longer.

  11. I'm coming to your house for the salad and to take up arms against the FN, hehe, it's also scary in many places in the U.S., very hard to believe in this day and age but then again humans use only a small part of their brain....

  12. I supposed with the recent terrorist attacks around the world, and stories in Britain of female mutilation, a movement to the far right is predictable however uncomfortable. We can always pray that the pendulum will soon swing back to center. On a happier note - how goes the house hunting?

  13. I haven't found National Geo yet!!!!!!!STill searching…….and when I do you will hear me SQUEAL with DELIGHT!
    I do not even listen anymore to the politics…………BUT that salad looks delicious!I will be arriving with CHERI who commented above me!I agree with her……………people just do not THINK!
    Ben & Kipling…… debonair and darling!Too bad they couldn't rule FRANCE!

  14. I'm not sure to say "I'm sure you've seen" or "I hope you haven't seen" about the page one of Flemish leading paper, a photo shopped photo of President and Mrs Obama, lower half of their faces as baboons, on the eve of his visit to Brussels. Disagree with his policies, expected, healthy debate. Picturing any person as a baboon: ignorant: a Black person - racism; one of the smartest, best educated head of state on eve of visit to one's country: screaming ignorance, paranoia, hate, prejudice that goes so far deeper than word "prejudice." It's all related - this, FN. I think we need to stay sane, enjoy pleasure of good food and orchids, love and art, so we have the strength to not let our various places, towns, countries being taken over by these cunning, dangerous fanatics. Hey, If I can do it, anyone can. I live in Florida!

  15. Ben & Kipling have the right idea, don't they?

  16. Grrrrr - sorry that politics has you down but glad that it inspired this incredible looking salad!! Of course I side with the puppies, but I also feel your pain! Thank you for your wonderful pics/words; I will send some good vibes to France...(I'm serious).

  17. Wake me up when it's over...who cares? The best attitude we could learn from your clever dogs they rather enjoy
    "Late night tales"...and politic is always the folk. Enjoy your NG success, your beautiful salad and wine. Cheers, dear Heather.

  18. You sound like I often find myself on election nights here. Politics do have a way of getting under one's skin, don't they? Love the looks of the salad - I've just purchased two packets of beet seeds and hope this year to grow my own! (Ha! I am much better at packing suitcases, than gardening . . .or understanding politics!) hugs to you - J.

  19. LOVE the recipe -- can't wait to try it out this weekend.

  20. You know how I am about politics in the US, so I dare not chime in on France's situation which I know nothing about. Thank goodness, none of the politicians are permanent, this is the only way I can view it. To me, every single person in office in DC needs to GO, we need to start over with courageous (maybe independently wealthy) people. Once again, BRAVO to Remi, and I do love those dogs.

  21. Dear Heather, I am so busy right now I hardly find the time to write a sentence on your blog!

    And yes, me too I am in rage, I am sad, speechless and badly disappointed of my dear French neighbours!

    Especially as I am German and EVERYBODY knows the German History and the History of the Second World War. And therefore everybody SHOULD really know certain relations of the FN contents and the German National Socialism Party during the Second World War!

    This is not "just" politics this is about about avoiding a human catastrophy. And trust me, this is not just another Hollywood Production, this is real life. And the latter is sometimes not funny in France for people who think different.

    As a German it was a weird feeling to have extreme right wing advertising in the mailbox on a daily basis when we were in Arles!

    Also, La Provence is not only "belle" it was also one of the centers of "La Résistance" (against German atrocities) during the Second World War who's leader was Jean Moulin.
    The beautiful "Alpilles" that we were so happy so see on this blog are crossed by a road called "Route de la Liberté" because Jean Moulin took a shelter there for one night. Every third beach on the Côte Azur is called: "Plage du Débarquemet"! On those beaches landed the Allies to free Europe from the horrors of the National Socialism.
    Yes, in the South of France they are proud of their Résistance and for good reasons. But that does not stop tem to vote for a party that is Anti-Semitic, Racist and Homophobic! France has a lot of problems but they won't get solved with the FN.

    Of course one cannot completely compare the time of the German National Socialism with the FN Party in France. But there are obvious tendencies and similarites in their "values". And their gains of power with a program that is based on Anti-Semitism and Racism is already a political catastrophy.

    And the politics of Racism concerns us all wether live in America, Europe, Australia etc, wether we are interested in politics or not, we should be interested in Humanity!

    To say something positive finally, the responsables of the Avignon Festival will restist and cancel the whole Festival under a FN Government!

  22. If your political nerves whipped up that salad, I'd like to see what you cook if they win.

  23. The rise of the FN and their ilk is tragic, infuriating and terrifying...and a call to activism for those of us who find it so. I will be waiting to hear from you about the result of tomorrow's elections. Yours in solidarity, Leslie in Oregon

  24. I fear, and strongly suspect, that the FN party will win the next presidential election in France :(
    On a much cheerier note... while I was at the airport waiting for Gregory and Fifty to arrive, I bought Remi's National Geographic! I have been showing it off and bragging all about my friend Heather's awesome partner! I'm beyond chuffed for you two xx


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