**Update October 25, 2016
Sometimes the most wonderful things happens when you write a blog. You make new friends. And you realize that people really do read what you write. I write this blog this for me, but if I can reach just a few others who have the same interests I do, then I feel so grateful and just plain old happy. After I posted this one, I got the following unexpected email:
Looking for a yummy breakfast recipe for this weekend, I came across your blog about adventures in life, food, and travel and your brioche recipe, I enjoy your post and most of all thank you for the recipe, I will definitely try it!
I also read an interesting subject on your blog about Marie-Antoinette. (From Tuesday, October 16, 2012, you pasted back on Let them eat brioche? October 16, 2016).
This reminds me of my work, I work as an e-translator in the e-tourism sector at Seine Saint Denis Tourism Board Paris Ile de France. I translate and updated every week on a regular basis plenty of tourist information for international visitors! I love to socialize, and tackle ideas, talk to visitors from wherever they are in the world ….making my contribution to the fabric of e-community
As I translated some pages which included M.A (…..The statue shows some anachronistic details about the Empire-inspired dress worn by Marie-Antoinette. The former Abbey of Saint Denis is witness to centuries of the spiritual, political and artistic history of France, a masterpiece of gothic art and final resting place of the kings and Queens of France….).
So referring to your post, I would be very grateful if you can paste some links,
as I think it would be helpful to future visitors of the Gothic Basilica of Saint Denis http://uk.tourisme93.com/basilica/louis-xvi-and-marie-antoinette.html or to locate Marie-Antoinette tombstone on this map http://uk.tourisme93.com/basilica/map-of-the-tombs-saint-denis-basilica.html; and also know more and get practical information to plan their visit.
Thank you for your time and consideration, do contact me if you have any questions or for any information on Paris for your blogs.
How cool is that? I am very happy to post the links and maybe I have made a new friend! It makes me realize that I need to go back to the Basilica of Saint Denis and spend more time looking around. I never miss the opportunity to photograph a statue of St. Denis carrying his head on his way to Christian land to breathe his last breath.
At Notre Dame de Paris–
I looked at today’s paper and saw that it was on this day in 1793 that Marie Antoinette lost her head. Literally. In front of a crowd of bloodthirsty Parisians who had gathered for the day’s festivities. 223 years ago. My first thought was… I should blog about M.A. Even go back to my orange brioche recipe that I worked on over and over when I first moved to Arles. Well, fans, seems I have already done that. Oui. A few years ago. So… I will just copy and paste it from the old blog. But I might dust off that orange brioche recipe and give it another try. It really is good. Oh- and I still haven’t come up with the headless Halloween costume yet. This year’s costume is already in the works and that’s not it. Maybe next year? L’année prochaine peut-être? On verra.
From Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Well, boys and girls, tonight I was looking forward to a nice quiet evening of gubernatorial and presidential debates. But what should I see when I get to the “Today in History” section of the local newspaper? Today is the 219th anniversary of the death of Marie Antoinette. She lost her head on October 16, 1793 in what is now the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Marie was just short of her 38th birthday. Her body was tossed into an unmarked grave but exhumed in 1815 and taken to the Basilica of Saint Denis for a proper Christian burial.
I visited her gravesite last March.
She is also immortalized in stone in Saint Denis, alongside her husband, Louis XVI.
Funerary monument to King Louis XVI
and Queen Marie Antoinette,
(I have developed quite a thing for statues lately.)
Some Marie Antoinette facts…
— She was the 15th child of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
— At her home court, she was encouraged to play with the “commoners” and was allowed to wander the gardens and have pets. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than it was in France. She tried to recreate this later at the Petit Trianon and her little farm, le petit Hameau, but she was not very successful. It is a cool place to visit, though, and where I saw my first “wild” boar. (If you find yourself at Versailles in nice weather, rent a bike and ride around the grounds– a great way to see everything without wearing yourself out and spending all of your time walking.)
— She didn’t take her education very seriously and had lousy handwriting.
However, she was a good singer and dancer, could speak Italian and French in addition to her native German, was fairly proficient in English, was a decent artist, and had great poise– a queen in training, wouldn’t you say?
— Maria Antonia, as she was called, had crooked teeth and the French didn’t care for that so before her marriage, she had to have very painful oral surgery to correct her smile and bring her up to queenly snuff. No braces back in the day.
— After all the marriage negotiations, she was finally wed by proxy in Vienna. Her brother stood in for the bridegroom who couldn’t make the trip, I guess. She was handed over to the French at the age of 15 and headed for the palace of Versailles where another wedding ceremony took place. The mystery surrounding the consummation of the marriage plagued the newlyweds for years. A marriage of convenience? Perhaps the future king of France had problems?
— Her mom was hyper-critical and her husband was not very affectionate. She turned to shopping and gambling. However, she did seem to get tired of fancy petticoats and lots of make-up and helped change fashion.
— She birthed four children, two sons and two daughters, but one daughter lived less than a year.
–“Let them eat cake.” Did she really say this? Supposedly, upon being told that the peasants had no bread to eat, she quipped that they could eat brioche, a sweeter bread than the usual baguette.
— There is a fascinating story about The Diamond Necklace Affair at this website
. I can’t possibly retell it and do it justice. Just click and read on. It was the undoing of Marie Antoinette.
As I attempted to write this post about Queen Marie Antoinette, I quickly realized that I had barely scratched the surface and that I am very ignorant about her. I’ve seen the 2006 movie, Marie Antoinette, starring Kristin Dunst and didn’t care for it. I just read a story about the attempted escape from Paris by the royal family in the book Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb.
I have this book in my bookcase but have not read it.
It has now been placed just under the Graham Robb book and is next on my list.
For the past four years (since spending Halloween in France and not dressing up), I have considered dressing up as her for Halloween. I think that this is a sign that the time has come. I have two weeks to get that costume pulled together. Got any good suggestions?
Also while living in France, I decided to try to learn to make a decent brioche à l’orange
. The B&B guests were served quite a bit of it. I discovered that it makes great French toast, too. I tried several different recipes and blogged about it here
1 tsp sugar (or honey)
2 packages yeast (or 5 tsp)
1/2 c. warm milk (110 F)
4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c + 2 Tbsp butter
1 egg yolk, beaten (for glaze)
orange flavoring (optional)
1 c. dried apricots (optional)- snip and add to dough during the second risingStir sugar into warm milk and sprinkle in yeast. Wait 5 minutes. Sift flour and salt together. Melt butter and cool slightly. Lightly beat butter and eggs into yeast mixture. Add orange flavoring. Add 2 cups flour and then slowly add more until a dough forms and you can knead in enough to make a smooth dough. Cover and let rise 60 minutes in a warm place. Grease small or large brioche pans. Take 3/4 of the dough and shape into balls. Use the remaining 1/4 to make small ones to place on top of the larger ones. Place in baking pans. Brush brioche with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar. Let rise another 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
My (Nearly) Perfect Orange Brioche Recipe
(found on the back of a package of yeast in France and slightly modified…)1/4 lb (one stick) of softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1/4 c. warm water
one package active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm milk
2-3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
apricot or strawberry preserves
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
Mix the butter, eggs, sugar, warm milk and orange flavoring. I have sweet orange essential oil that I bought at Florame (www.florame.com) and I use 4-5 drops of it. I know that you can find orange flavoring at the supermarket.
Add the yeast mixture and mix.
Add the combined flour and salt. Add enough flour to have a dough that you can knead (not too sticky).
Turn onto a flour covered surface and knead for about 5 minutes or so.
Place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place to rise. My microwave is above the stove and is a great place. Allow to rise for 2 hours.
Turn onto a flour covered surface again and knead for another 5 minutes. Shape however you wish– into rolls, two small loaves or one large one. Place in pans.
Cover again and allow to rise for 2 more hours.
After the second rising, you can bake or you can put it in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next morning (allow the dough to come to room temperature before baking).
Brush with the egg yolk and bake at 400F for about 20-30 minutes. Baking time will depend upon the shape of your brioche. Rolls take a shorter time. Adjust the oven, if necessary, lowering the temperature a bit if it seems to be baking too fast or if your oven tends to be on the hot side.
After baking, while still warm, brush with preserves (you can warm them in the microwave so that they brush easily- I have also used orange juice at this point, when I didn’t have any preserves) and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. I have mixed orange essence in with the sugar before sprinkling to give it more orange flavor. As you can see, I have played around with this recipe. It is wonderful hot from the oven. It makes really good French toast when it is a couple of days old and a bit stale. It is also good sliced and toasted. It is not very sweet. French pastries and desserts are not as sweet as American ones.
Enjoy! And please let me know if you make it and something just doesn’t work or you make a modification that helps! It isn’t perfect yet! A work in progress!
Back to the present… Sunday, October 16, 2016
I have now looked through my Arles photos from 2007 and 2008 on my trusty MacBook and am feeling rather nostalgic. Did I really do that? Was that really me living another life en français in the south of France? Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe it. It was a rocky road that got me there. Separation. Divorce. Leaving my friends and children behind. But I have to believe that things happen for a reason. I needed that time in France to find myself. I was lost. I didn’t feel needed here. Just reliving those feelings brings tears to my eyes. The guilt still builds up from time to time, but I find it easier to let it wash over me for a few seconds or minutes (instead of hours as it used to) and then let it go. I have had some professional help with that, mes amis. And I surrounded by people who support me and love me just the way I am. That’s the crucial piece. As my children have gotten older, I think they are better able to understand. I hope so. I still, and will always, consider myself a lucky woman.
How about a few happy photos?
The kitchen in Arles
The Sabbatical Chef 2007 (I kept the apron and still wear it every time I cook)- making crêpes for breakfast
Breakfast table at the B&B- home made jams, bread and granola, Cavaillon melon, Sophie’s honey, freshly squeezed orange juice, plates and cups from a local potter
Deboning a duck- the beginning of my love affair with duck and foie gras
At the Pont du Gard on a windy fall day
The Sabbatical Chef 2016
The hair color may have changed, but I am still the same green-eyed lover of France and everything French…
Bon appétit, Marie Antoinette!
Many, many thanks to everyone who loved and supported me then and who loves and supports me now. I couldn’t do it without you. Life is an adventure, n’est-ce pas?.