Sarah Mullen. You may have read about their winning a trip to Paris
as the guests of the French consulate, for essays written in French
on global warming.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Stephanie Davin and Sarah Mullen. You may have read about their winning a trip to Paris as the guests of the French consulate, for essays written in French on global warming.
I would like to congratulate them, that is, after I get over being jealous and indulging in a fit of pouting and sulking.
I took French in high school and nobody ever invited me to Paris.
Luckily, I was able to go on my own in college and afterwards, and that’s how I know it’s a trip worth taking.
Once I got to know Paris, I ventured into the French countryside, and found it a magical place. In fact, it was my love of the French countryside that made San Benito County so appealing to my husband and me.
Say what? Haybalers in Frogland?
Well, the thing is, part of the reason rural France is so appealing, and French food is so good, is that France regards its agricultural industry as a national treasure.
In fact, some of its actions to protect its agriculture have seemed laughable from this side of the world – like the times when French farmers gang up and block highways by throwing cabbages from their trucks. Or a French agricultural minister saying mean things about American wine.
But even though some of the tactics are a bit silly, the results are pleasurable: drives down two-lane roads (which we have here), vast expanses of land covered with crops or grazing animals (which we still have here) and the opportunity to buy fresh, local products from the people who create them (which we have, to a limited but growing degree, here).
So when Stephanie and Sarah go to Paris and Versailles, I hope they will have a chance to stop in between the two cities and visit a small village where they can sample a local cafe and enjoy a moment of leisurely village life.
Even if that’s not on the agenda, they’ll have a chance in Paris to taste fresh seafood from France’s Atlantic coast, foie gras from the southwest, wines from Burgundy or Bordeaux, Camembert from Camembert, Roquefort from Roquefort, and mustard from Dijon.
France is as proud of its “imports” within its borders as it is of its exports to other countries. The nurturing and support of its local food producers give the well-developed French kitchen a wealth of ingredients to work with. Not only diners, but tourists also benefit, as good meals are as available by the side of those two-lane roads as they are in the big cities.
So how can we learn from this? We need to find ways to make San Benito County cherries, Blenheim apricots, grass-fed beef, wine and olive oil as desirable and famous as their French counterparts.
Now, if I translate this column into French, can I go with Stephanie and Sarah? I know they don’t need a translator, but I’m a dandy map-reader and taxi-flagger.