Little French Girl

image source: wikipedia

It was January 4th, 50 years ago that Albert Camus died in a car accident driving back to Paris from Lourmarin (Luberon).
Born in Algeria November 7th 1913, the famous French philosopher and novelist was also a brilliant playwright, actor, director, journalist, and an active member of the French resistance during World War II. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature at the age of 44 in 1957.
His bibliography is quite substantial; my personal favorites are The Plague, The Stranger, The Fall, Lettres a un Ami Allemand, The Misunderstanding, Caligula, The Exile and the Kingdom.
During his time in the theater, Camus also adapted several works by foreign authors into French plays, such as The Possessed (adapted from a novel of the name by Fyodor Dostoevsky) and Requiem for a Nun (adapted from a novel by William Faulkner, also of the same name).

In November 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy mentioned a possible transfer of Camus’ remains to the Pantheon (a building in the 5th arrondissement of Paris where the most illustrious citizens of France are buried), meeting the disapproval of Camus’ son and approval of his daughter.

In honor of the anniversary of this death, Telerama published an issue with many articles on Camus (his role during the war, his relationship to Algeria, place in the theater, reaction to winning the Nobel Prize, etc) so here is a link if you speak French and want to read further, it even has a podcast of Camus reading from The Stranger:
In addition, wikipedia has a good list for further reading:


Tonight’s Twelfth Night!

It traditionally marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and at the same time it kicks off the Carnival season which lasts until Mardi Gras. The evening consists of revels, drinks, and pastries, among which the King’s Cake, eaten in England and France, may be the most popular today. Originally baked with a bean inside, this cake is made of a puff pastry and filled with an egg-butter-almond batter (though other variations exist). During the night, whoever gets the bean becomes the king of the revels until the strike of midnight.

Nowadays in France the Kings’ Cake (Galette des Rois) is often eaten on the day of Epiphany (it is named after Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar). At home the youngest child of the house hides under the table and an adult cuts the cake. From under the table, the child will name who gets which slice to ensure the king is selected at random. Once someone finds the bean, they become King, and wears a paper crown which the baker has given with the galette.

Most bakeries in France are filled with galettes des rois during Epiphany week, and the original bean has now been replaced by a figurine, more often than not made of china. Fancier shops team up occasionally with reknown designers to create special editions for the occasion (e.g. Lenotre/Sonia Rykiel with a series of faces named and designed after the seven deadly sins in 1994). Being less fancy this year, I bought mine from the local grocery store so I wonder what I’ll be getting…

Finally, if you’re in Brooklyn and want to try a galette des rois, Provence en Boite (Smith Street in Carrol Gardens) makes a nice one!

et cetera