Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bastille Day! The Storming of the Bastille - July 14th

"Prise de la Bastille" (the taking of the Bastille.) 1789, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel.
The Bastille was a fortress built in the 14th century as part of the defenses of Paris, but it was later turned into a very uncomfortable prison. It held political and religious prisoners and writers. It was also well known for locking up people who had had a lettre de cachet served against them. These lettres de cachets were bought by the wealthy and those in power and were used to imprison people who they wanted out of the way. There was no appeal against them.

Hardly surprisingly the bastille was stormed by the people and burnt to the ground on July 14, 1789, at the beginning of the French Revolution. Nothing of it remains. Where it once stood is now Place de la Bastille with a column to mark the spot.
There are many cafes, bars and concert halls in the area.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

French Food: Moules Marinieres and Moules et Frites

The French take food very seriously. In other words you can usually find really fantastic food in most cafes, restaurants and brasserries.

A very popular and common dish served all over the place is Moules Marinieres. This is the shellfish mussels, cooked in white wine, or sometimes cider, with onions, garlic, cream and a variety of herbs such as parsley, thyme and bay leaves.

Moules marinieres usually arrives at the table in a large steaming pot. You will also be given a dish to put the shells in and a saucer of lemon water to rinse your fingers afterwards. Yes you have to get in and take the mussels out of their shells, but it's very easy, you can use your fingers, a fork, another mussel shell, or just bite it out even.

Moules et Frites or  Moules Frites can be found on menus all over France. It's moules marinieres served with chips, or french fries, depending on what you call them.