summer is a very special time in Australia as it coincides with Christmas and no more work than in August in France...
It is only after Australia Day on January 26 that the nation comes back to life, with most tradies coming back to site and children going back to school.
So, what one does during that long period of semi-activity or plain lethargy?
One goes to the beach, one gets to discover other parts of Australia or the World (at any given time one out of every 43 Australians is overseas!), and enjoy company of spouse and children, or extended family and friends sharing seafood and fruits around the "barbie" with a beer or a good bottle of wine,
or one can read:
I thought I would share with you the three books that are relevant to our conversation here as they are about France and/or French people.
I managed to read or finish a few other books as well:
The Arrival City, by Doug Saunders, which is relevant to us as recent migrants to Australia, Sacred Games by Vickram Chandra Sacred Games by Vickram Chandra, an epic book about life (and death, and lust...) in India: (exhausting...but very well written once you get into it), and The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis, a mainly narcissist waste of paper and ink at 470 pages, but occasionally interesting as a mirror of one's adolescence if you are a baby boomer (and obviously there are plenty of us out there!)
But now to the ones that are relevant to this blog:
BORDEAUX CHATEAUX - A HISTORY OF THE GRANDS CRUS CLASSES SINCE 1855 - Flammarion
A beautiful complement to "The Heart of Bordeaux" previously featured on our Wine page, magnificent photos, well researched text and lots of historical documents like the original hand-written notes of the original 1855 classification and beyond.
You will find here some of the most famous wines and chateaux, like Ducru-Beaucaillou, my favourite St Julien, and I will share with you the notes for 1982, of which I drank many a bottle:
Start of harvest: September 13
Yield: Very large
Comments: Magnificent wines that will age well into the 21st century - well, if you can find any left, that is...
If you do, let me know!
The Gourmet - Une Gourmandise - by Muriel Barbery - Gallic Books - Gallimard
The back cover tells it as it is:
"France's most celebrated food critic is dying, after a lifetime in pursuit of sensual delights. But on his deathbed, Pierre Arthens is in torment as he struggles to recall the most delicious food ever to pass his lips..."
The translation in English is extremely good, but I am dying (lol...) to read it in French, as I am sure, I would find another level of insight and humour in the original Muriel's prose.
And it is like a degustation menu: although it looks very small, it fills you up very nicely.
I can't recommend it more.
PARISIANS - An Adventure History of Paris - Graham Robb - Picador
Take a period in the history of Paris, find a true anecdote or story about it, and explore the City of Lights for the clues left over by this event in today's Paris.
Here are some of the chapters/stories:
"The Man Who Saved Paris"
"The Notre-Dame Equation"
"Sarko, Bouna and Zyed"
Maybe I should translate it French...