Multi-culti or what is French?

Last night was my long-planned potluck dinner, with each person bringing something from their culture of origin. Noel (Irish, living in Nice since 2014) brought smoked salmon. Martine (French, from Alsace, living in the south of France for more than 20 years) brought home-made spatzle. Samara (Irish, Nicoise for 10+ years) brought kilcannon, an Irish dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage. Tarek (born in Algeria, in France since childhood) brought homemade couscous, layered with meat, chickpeas, and spice. Marie (French, originally from Lille, Côte d’Azur resident for more than 20 years) brought a Margaux and a St. Emilion. Sunny (Californian, in Nice for 10+ years) brought–what else?–salad–along with a chocolate mousse cake. Eduardo (Italian/Australian, in Nice for 10+ years) made Zuppa inglese (custard with chocolate and amaretto liqueur) and biscotti. Evelyn (New Yorker by way of Pittsburgh and Germany, nicoise for 2+ weeks) made sauerbraten (my best ever–the secret is in the meat) as well as providing champagne and an international array of cheese. Lacking dining space, we ate standing up.  After, Noel led us in an Irish round robin where each had to sing or recite something. I recited the only thing I could remember–the Gettysburg Address. Fun was had by all 

Adventures in French cooking

So I have settled into my routine and am no longer on the road. I don’t know how much you are interested in ordinary life in Nice, but I will post occasionally if something comes up that illuminates cultural differences. 

I have a dinner party planned. Each of my guests has been asked to bring something exemplifying their culture. So Noel, an Irish friend, will be bringing smoked salmon. Tarek, of Algerian background, is bringing couscous. Eduardo is supplying a Zuppa inglese (a kind of Italian custard). And Marie, a Frenchwoman, has offered to bring several bottles of wine. 

And I have volunteered sauerbraten. Two problems: first, what kind of meat, as the French butcher their cows entirely differently. I have opted for a daube, which is close to the bottom round I use in the US.

More difficult–the ginger snaps, which are an elemental part of the dish. (Except in France where the recipe calls for cream!) I have been to supermarkets, specialty shops, organic food stores. I posted on an English in south of France website, with many suggestions but no luck. Finally, Samara just found them at a local supermarket. Who Ray!

Celebration. Real Champagne in plastic cups

Most of you have already guessed my news–I have rented an apartment in Nice. I signed the lease on Tuesday, but only got the keys today, following the inspection of the premises. Happily, my friend Eduardo joined me and we celebrated with a good bottle of champagne out of dental cups. 

The place is semi-furnished, which means it has sofas, chairs, tables, a bed, a refrigerator and a washing machine. What it lacks: an oven/microwave, sheets, towels, plates, cookware, glasses, utensils, etc., etc.  so the next few weeks will be devoted to shopping. Since I have my current rental until mid-December, I have plenty of time to get things together, including getting my electric and cable set up. 

The apartment is very well located in the center of Nice in a 1960s building. Some photos below. 

The vestibule leads to all the rooms: living room, toilet room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen

Ellie has already made herself at home on the balcony

More on Stolpersteine 

I don’t know if I mentioned that there were reporters at the ceremony in Bamberg. They were not there because of me but rather because of the anniversary of Gunter Demnig, the artist who created the stolpersteine project. Nevertheless, my remarks on the occasion were mentioned in the press coverage. The link below is in German, but if you click on the photo, there are 29 photos of the installation of the stolpersteine, including some of me and of Ellie. 

http://www.infranken.de/regional/bamberg/neues-denkmal-vor-judenhaus-in-bamberg;art212,2968582

The link below is a long article, also in German, about the anniversary of the stolpersteine project. 

https://www.morgenpost.de/incoming/article212309515/Letzte-Spuren.html
Here is a Google translation of the first and last paragraphs (that mention me).

Gunter Demnig – the inventor of the stumbling blocks – is currently sinking two stones into the ground. It’s fast, like most of the time. He knocks, he pours a mixture of concrete, digs, one knee protected by a battered knee protector. Then he cleans the stone, and someone puts two white roses next to it. There is a lot going on around him. He is in Bamberg today, it is cold and foggy this morning. Around 15 people stand in front of the house, including Evelyn Ehrlich, a 67-year-old New Yorker who will make a small speech. She looks nervous in her beautiful dress, takes out of her purse a cigarette, it lights up. And then there’s Helmut Müller, the representative of the city of Bamberg, who thanks Evelyn Ehrlich for taking the “long road”. He looks even more nervous. Almost helplessly, he admits that the press office of the town hall prepared his little speech for him. Then he begins: “Bertolt Brecht once said that a person is really dead when nobody thinks about him anymore.”

In Bamberg, Wednesday morning, Evelyn Ehrlich talks about her family. She reads from the note: “From my earliest childhood, I knew that my grandparents were murdered because they were Jewish, it was always a part of me, a cause for nightmares and years of psychotherapy” And after a short break, she says, “It fills me with pride that there are people in Germany who have not forgotten.” Gunter Demnig and his wife Katja stand on the edge and listen. It shines in his left corner of his eye. He says he just had a barley grain. “That is not quite over.”

Here is the full text of my remarks, not translated from the German.

 From my earliest childhood, I was aware that my grandparents were murdered because they were Jews. It was, for me, an inescapable part of my being, a cause for nightmares and years of psychoanalysis. Obviously, I never met Max and Lina Ehrlich. I heard about them from my father and my aunt Martha, but they were not real people to me. Just victims, as if the end of their lives was all that mattered. 

I will tell you one brief anecdote about them that perhaps reveals a bit about their very German character. In 1940, my father met my mother, a refugee from Frankfurt, when both were living in Pittsburgh. When he wrote to his parents to say he was marrying Liesel Levi, they hired a private detective to make sure she was suitable. Remember, at this time, they were denied enough to eat, medicine, forbidden to worship, but it still mattered to them that their son should marry well. And they were pleased to tell him that my mother came from a “fine family.”

My generation–my sister Barbara, my cousins Caroline and Andrew Rose–have 6 children and 8 grandchildren, including Andrew’s son, Max, named after our grandfather. So their memory and their history live on. And this extraordinary Stopelsteine project is a further living memorial. While my feelings about being a German citizen are mixed with ambivalence, I am proud that many in Germany have not forgotten and have done their utmost to honor the victims. 

The Best of Nice

The last few days have been busy and there will be an upcoming announcement of some importance (at least to me). But I want to wait until it’s official before I share the news. 

My friend, Susan, was in from Boston for a few days and we made the most of it. We had 2 excellent meals, including last night’s dinner which I will describe. (Spoiler alert–do not read while hungry). It started with 2 amuses bouches: the first a Parmesan and mushroom crouton, the second a broccoli cream with mint, which was brilliant. (Whoever imagined those 2 ingredients would work together?) For a starter, we shared the restaurant’s homemade foie gras with a lovely fruit reduction. Libby had ordered this previously and it was so good she ordered it again. Last night was just as good. For main course, Susan had cod and I had pork roast. It was like the best porchetta ever, from an iberico pig, with the skin crispy, a wine reduction over a bed of carrots and sweet potatoes. We shared a pichet of Cotes de Rhone. Too sated, we skipped dessert and waddled back to Susan’s hotel and then Ellie and I trotted home. Yes, of course, Ellie accompanied us to dinner. And, needless to note, Ellie enjoyed it. 

Before dinner we had an apero at a rooftop bar overlooking Nice. Photos of Susan, Ellie and me below. 


Today I went to the opera house to hear Mahler’s Sixth. Nice has a new maestro, a Hungarian named Gyorgy Rath. He is quite demonstrative, jumping up and down, and got a passionate performance from an orchestra so large I feared several violinists might fall from the stage. Question for Mike: are there any left-handed violinists? How do they keep from hitting one another?

Stay tuned…