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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "Marry First, Then Cheat": Pardon My French

Morticia Frump Addams: Voilá! I have it.
Gomez Addams: Tish, that's French.
Morticia Frump Addams: Darling, please, let me tell you my idea.
Gomez Addams: [leering] Let me tell ya mine.


- "The Addams Family" (TV series), 1964-1966

Unlike Gomez Addams, I am not titillated by spoken French. Nor could I give a damn about French Prime Minister Hollande's escapades involving Valérie Trierweiler and Julie Gayet.

Maureen Dowd, on the other hand, could not possibly pass on this comédie larmoyante. In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Marry First, Then Cheat" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/dowd-marry-first-then-cheat.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0), Dowd observes how, to the chagrin of many observers of protocol in France, "Stephen Colbert, who had filleted Hollande’s shenanigans on his show, was seated to the right of Michelle Obama at the state dinner, in the magic circle with the president where Trierweiler would have been." Une telle tragédie!

Well, I'm hoping that this will not cause the same ill will occasioned by Obama's return of a bust of Churchill to the British embassy.

Dowd's conclusion:

"The French have spent centuries making fun of us for our puritanism, and now they feel the unbearable sting of our mockery, as our press and comedians chortle at a mediocre pol caught up in a melodrama with all the erotic charge of week-old Camembert. (Maybe that’s why the French got so swept up in the ridiculous but glamorous rumor about Obama and Beyoncé.)

All those French expressions we siphon because English isn’t nuanced enough — finesse, etiquette, savoir-faire, rendezvous, je ne sais quoi, comme il faut — Hollande flouted.

In the minds of many here, the French president is a loser because he’s so unrefined he might as well be American."

Hollande is unrefined? I'm shocked. But as long as we're on the topic of Hollande's White House fête (from Old French "feste"), perhaps you might be interested in learning of the menu, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/02/11/white-house-state-dinner-the-menu/):

First course

American Osetra caviar
Fingerling potato velouté, quail eggs, crisped chive potatoes


Second course

“The Winter Garden Salad”
Petite mixed radish, baby carrots, merlot lettuce
Red wine vinaigrette


Main course

Dry-aged rib eye beef
Jasper Hill Farm blue cheese, charred shallots, oyster
Mushrooms, braised chard


Dessert

Hawaiian chocolate-malted ganache
Vanilla ice cream and tangerines


Wines

Morlet “La Proportion Doree” 2011 Napa Valley, California
Chester-Kidder Red Blend 2009 Columbia Valley, Washington
Thibaut-Janisson “Blanc de Chardonnay” Monticello, Virginia

You might want to compare this cuisine, particularly the Hawaiian ganache, with the grass, roots and leaves currently being eaten in Homs by starving civilians caught in the middle of the Syrian civil war. But don't let it weigh on your conscience: After many years of procrastination, President Obama has finally gotten around to asking "aides to develop new policy options to deal with the deteriorating situation in Syria" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/world/middleeast/kerry-says-obama-wants-new-options-for-syria-strife.html?hp&_r=1).


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