Posts from the “Photos” Category

How To Say “Sale” in French

Posted on October 11, 2012


I’ve never been a recreational shopper. I’d call myself more of a kamikaze shopper. I go in with a purpose, strike, then get out. When I was in France earlier this year conducting master’s thesis research, I arrived just in time for seasonal sales. So I was willing to relax my usual mercenary technique to engage in a little bit of what the French call “faire du leche-vitrines,” or window shopping. The French term translates literally as “window licking,” which I think is kind of cute in all its Gallic weirdness.

So imagine that you are licking windows and tempted to buy something you see, but your budget is limited. If a shop window says “soldes,” then walk in and poke around. But say “Bonjour” to the shopkeeper before you get down to business. Otherwise, you’re just being rude and, well, American.

“Soldes” means “sales”  and they are a girl’s best friend, especially in a gorgeous boutique like Sandro (pictured above).

But here are three other variations on “soldes” that are worth noting. There are…supersoldes1. Super Soldes and Soldes Massifs — This is the one-two punch of soldesmanship. It says the sale you are about to witness is above and beyond the scope of sales you’ve seen today. It is superheroic. It is epic. You should walk through the door, say “Bonjour” and partake. You won’t be sorry.

destockage2. Destockage Massif — The “everything must go” of France, with prices so low, you can afford that extra bottle of Sancerre! ‘Tis a pity that Jacques Genin didn’t offer a “destockage massif” of its renowned caramels…

festivaldelachemise3. Festival de la Chemise — Not a mere sale, this is a destockage massif that celebrates the humble shirt. We need more shirt festivals. We really do. They’re an underappreciated piece of clothing.

Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil

Posted on October 2, 2012

I have morning routines that set me up for working through the rest of the day. Generally, I devote an hour to yoga or a walk each day, but I also throw in a bit of gardening for good measure. I started a backyard vegetable garden when I first moved to Louisiana two years ago and it has been the site of just as many glories (tender baby carrots, sweet leeks and sugar peas in Spring) as defeats (the wilt disease that gobbled up my cucumbers and squash this Summer). But I keep at it because a. there’s something wildly therapeutic about weeding (out with the bad so the good can flourish) and b. it’s a way to bring something good and positive into the world.

After my walk this morning, I checked in with my backyard plot, which has begun to sprout fall produce. Here are a couple of highlights:

tomatilloTomatillo: I saw these seeds over the summer and thought I’d try them, largely because they’re supposed to yield purple fruit when they’re ripe. Roasted, they should serve as the base for a good salsa that could include the onions (you can see them poking up in the background in this picture) and cilantro growing in other parts of this box. The authors of Latin Chic also have a great tomatillo salad dressing recipe that was a hit at a baby shower I once catered for a friend in Atlanta. So I have big plans for this crop and hope it continues to flourish.

wintersquashWinter squash: I wish I knew what type of squash this was. I bought a general winter squash seed packet that included butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash seeds. But the seeds were all mixed up, so I’m not sure what I planted here or on the other side of my plot. It’ll be a surprise. I like surprises. I’ll either have something that will make a great soup (butternut), something that will be a healthy pasta substitute (spaghetti), or something that will be great roasted on its own (acorn).

okraOkra: This plant is almost tall and sturdy enough for my child to climb. It is also yielding a constant supply of pods that I’ve tossed into gumbos, fried in cornmeal, or packed in my kid’s lunch. The kid will eat raw okra, which is amazing to me, especially because it took me a while to acquire a taste for them. One thing I might try this fall: Pickling okra. Pickled okra make good stirrers in a Bloody Mary, after all.

blackeyedpeaBlack-eyed peas: I’ve tried and failed with a lot of different things in this box over the past two years. But I decided over the summer that as a self-respecting Southern gardener, I needed to plant black-eyed peas. I had no idea this plant would grow the way it did, exploding with yellow and white blooms that yield pods of sweet, fresh peas. In my house they don’t last long, but I’ll be stockpiling some for a black-eyed pea hummus.


Posted on September 21, 2012


Cafes in Paris. Taken September, 2009.

Almost two months ago, I returned to my yoga practice, thanks in no small part to a studio that opened just around the corner from my house. At first, my goal was not to fall down. (A month after I started, I face planted into my mat). My goal quickly became “Forgive Yourself” after that. Once I got stronger on my mat and more confident, my goal became “Challenge Yourself Every Day.” I think I have. Last week I began inching away from basic classes and into the more challenging ones, like Ashtanga, which causes you to break out in an unbelievably unladylike sweat (There will be more on Ashtanga in another post. I find it to be eleven kinds of awesome).

Sweat aside, yoga has been a good thing to reintroduce into my life. I feel stronger, less anxious and my clothes fit better than they did after two years of building up a volcanic amount of stress in graduate school. If I skip a class, I crave yoga. Besides, the practice of focusing on what you can do on your mat for more than an hour a day is

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Posted on September 5, 2012


I have a friend who likes fresh grouper. Actually, he doesn’t just like fresh grouper, he waxes enthusiastic about it, as if there were no other food on this planet worth eating. The friend in question buys his grouper from the same seafood place in Perdido Key, Fla. everytime he’s in that neck of the woods. So when we vacationed near that spot this summer, we made a pilgrimage to Grouper Mecca and were not disappointed with our haul.

Pictured above: Abita Beer-battered grouper, made by yours truly.  Informal recipe is as follows: 1. Pour a bottle of Abita Amber or Abita Golden into a bowl; 2. In another bowl, mix a few cups of flour with sea salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic salt, onion salt, paprika and maybe parsley; 3. Dredge grouper slices in flour first, then in beer, then back in flour (expect messy fingers); 4. Fry covered grouper slices in hot oil until golden brown; 5. Dig in and enjoy what my seven-year-old declared “the best fish I’ve ever had in my life.”