Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week 45: Le Bistrot

Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of Coffee Houses of late years set up and kept within this Kingdom...and the great resort of idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects; as well for that many tradesmen and others, do herein misspend much of their time, which might and probably would be employed in and about their Lawful Calling and Affairs; but also for that in such houses...divers, false, malitious, and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of His Majesty's Government, and to the disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm; his Majesty hath though it fit and necessary, that the said Coffee Houses be (for the Future) put down and suppressed..." -King Charles II of England, 1630-1685

   This week's book-of-the-week, Le Bistrot, is a tribute to the delicious foods of France and the atmosphere of community, ritual, artistry, agriculture, and history that make up the gate that is French cuisine. Unlike the sentiments expressed in the quote from King Charles II, the gathering of people around a table of good food and drink has been known to form unions, friendships, and understanding between people of all kinds... to instill and inspire ideas, creative thought, and progress, and to feed the spirit as well as the body. It is a gate...  Where would we be today if the French had felt as King Charles did?
the book Le Bistrot and its box case
   Many cultures have an equally delicious food culture.. so why is French cuisine so special? From the 
fields of delicately tended herbs and straight-rowed vineyards that are prolific throughout France, to the aestheticism of truffles and foix gras... the subject of French food is a study in dedication and excellence. UNECSO (
experts singled out French gastronomy as one of 178 "world intangible heritages," a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups." -The Telegraph. 
Who doesn't love the thought of champagne, croissants, and creme brulee? 

windows of a french repast
   Le Bistrot is a three panel accordion book with pop-out windows, that stretches out to form a wall of visuals. Inside, the
 background has been papered with an Italian paper similar to wallpaper one might see on the walls of a French chateau. On the front cover is a photograph of the entryway to a small local restaurant, Le Bistrot, in Angers, France. A blue satin ribbon ties the coverboards together. Each window showcases a 
photo from  one area of French cuisine... the delicious native wines, the elegant pastries, or the eclectic homeyness of a favorite provincial cafe. 
Delaunay Pere & Fils (father and son) Vineyard and tasting salon in Loire Valley
patisserie (pastry) shop window in Guerande
Barbe Bleu (Blue Beard) Restaurante, Champtoce sur Loire
  In reference to the many told and untold stories that center around the tables of French meals, this book is housed in it's own book-like box. Covered outside with royal blue bookcloth on the spine and printed paper with a French motif, the drop side box is made to fit the small 5 x 5-inch book. Inside, the box lining matches the wallpaper lining of the book. A wallpaper panel with a blue satin ribbon lifts the book for easy removal from its box.

the bookish box 

inside the box

nestled in its box
Le Bistrot is covered on the backside with a collage print of a variety of French shop labels, alluding to the richness of the culture.
The other side...
You never know what you'll find when it comes to French cuisine...
....marzipan mushrooms in the window
Bon Appetit!

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