• April was spring break for school-aged children, and we took a family vacation to the Perche, a lush and beautiful countryside where we rent the same little house every time. This was over Easter, so we were able to do a proper chocolate egg hunt for the kids in the lovely garden, trying to adjust the level of hiding so the eggs weren’t too obvious for our almost-five-year-old, yet our two-year-old stood a chance. Let’s say it’s not a bad idea to keep a few spare eggs in your pocket that you can drop on the little one’s path as he goes.
• Maxence and I had a wonderful dinner at Ken Kawasaki, a pocket-size gastronomic restaurant with French and Japanese inspirations. You are seated sushi-bar-style around a counter, so you get to see the chef at work on the seven-course, monthly tasting menu, remarkably fresh and elegant. We love it there; it’s where we decided to get engaged, and went back to celebrate our four-month wedding anniversary. (See my wedding post if inexplicably you missed it.)
• I attended my assistant and friend Anne Elder’s thesis defense, which she wrote on the experience of refugee chefs in Paris. Such a rich and important topic, and her research work was exceedingly well received. There is a book to be drawn out of this for sure, and I can’t think of a better person to write it.
Anne used a beautiful poem by Nigerian writer Ijeoma Umebinyuo to open her presentation. It’s called Diaspora Blues:
“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.”
• Speaking of poems, the one I memorized this month as part of my monthly poem challenge is D.H. Lawrence’s Piano. What’s really interesting to me with this challenge is to see the same motifs appear again and again in the poems I choose. For some reason I seem to be drawn to poems about remembrance and nostalgia. If you’re a fan of poetry, have you seen themes emerge in the writings you most resonate with?
• I have been blissfully working on my upcoming podcast in French, Change ma vie, which I am launching this! Thursday! and I want to draw your attention to the French podcast that is gaining traction over here. It is called La Poudre, and in it the host Lauren Bastide (a former writer for the French ELLE) interviews exceptional French women. Exactly the kind of intelligent, honest, feminist conversations the world needs more of.
• I am smitten with Atelier Mouti, a small French brand of paper goods and wallpapers, beautifully designed by Mélissa Paszkiewicz and manufactured in France. She has a darling workshop-boutique in my neighborhood, but I’ve also spotted her creations in some of the hippest stores in Paris, so keep an eye out!
• For my monthly museum challenge, I picked the epic Jardins exhibition at the Grand Palais, exploring six centuries of art inspired by gardens, and booked a guided tour with one of my favorite independent museum guides.
It is perhaps obvious to everyone but me, but I now prepare for those museum visits by downloading the exhibition leaflet and reading it before I go, to gain a basic grasp of the context and the angle. I used to think I wanted to be surprised, but then I realized it saves me from the agony of those first few minutes stuck in exhibition room number one, huddled with the masses by the giant blocks of text, fidgety and bored. I get to breeze right through and take in the art.
• And I leave you with this Jaymay song which I’m listening to on a loop. It’s the kind of song that almost makes you wish for heartache so you can feel all the feelings.
Now tell me: what exciting things have you been up to this month?