Carole Bumpus

Fiction and Non-fiction Travel and Food Writer

SALETÉ RÉFUGIATE – DIRTY REFUGEES

SALETÉ RÉFUGIATE – DIRTY REFUGEES

REMEMBERING WORLD WAR II – PARIS:  MARCELLE RECALLS DIFFICULT MEMORIES

“You asked me what I remember about the beginnings of World War II in Paris,” Marcelle responded.  “What my life was like?  How I lived?  Let me see if I can remember……”  She sat quietly, running her index finger round and round the handle of the coffee cup before her, her mind racing back to her teens over seventy years before.

“Now, you probably know that Hitler came to power in 1933,” she began.  “I don’t think we thought much about it at the time, and I, of course, was too young to think of such things.  As you know, I was born on the last day of WWI.  So, I knew little of what caused war . . . although being French, politics was always under discussion.”  A twinkle flitted through her dark eyes.

“I do know that when the Spanish civil war began in ‘36, it became a dress rehearsal for what was to come, for Hitler was testing out his dive-bombers at Guernica.  We should have taken note.

“But, in 1936, I moved to Paris, where I gave birth to my son, Thierry.  Because I was an unmarried teen-age mother, I never returned to my grandmother’s home in Vannes and avoided my mother’s home in Paris.  It’s a long story, but it seemed better that way.”

“It must have been very difficult for you—being so young and on your own,” I said.

She shrugged her stooped shoulders and pulled her sweater more tightly around her.  A look of determination swept over her weathered face.  “I found that ‘family’ comes in many different forms.  You see, I was not the only young mother in Paris….and I made a network of friends.  Fortunately, I found a good job working at the Citröen factory and my beautiful son was cared for by the child care workers for factory employees.

“Like I said, the year was ‘36, and there was great turmoil going on in Paris.  At that time we didn’t know France was headed for war once again.”  She cocked her head to the side.  “But I remember that the atmosphere simply crackled with talk of it.

“I faintly remember hearing about such things, but not understanding what was happening.  Everything is made clearer in hind-sight, as they say.  I think it was around the time when both Germany, then Russia, invaded Poland, that we began to see that we needed to prepare for war too, but I suppose it was already too late.  The massive numbers of refugees were already beginning to fill the streets of Paris…..streaming down from the north.

“It was on September 3rd, 1939, when both England and France finally declared war on Germany, that it became real for me.  That was when the Communist Party was banned and as a factory worker, that meant that I no longer had as many rights.  Same as a union worker.  At least I still had a job, and that was what mattered most to me.

“The eight-month period which followed was known as the ‘phony war’ – Drôle de Guerre – phony, because although war had been declared, there was no fighting.  None at all!  Everyone was waiting to see what Hitler would do next.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop!  I guess we felt pretty superior as we had beaten Germany in WWI.  And we were relying on the defensive Maginot Line that had been built after World War I, along our northern border.    We were constantly being told by our government that we were all safe…..and, of course, we believed them.  We had no idea what was to come.

Not until the bombs began to fall on our beloved City, did we realize the danger we were in.  I remember it was the 3rd of May, 1940, the Germans began bombing Paris.  An estimated 1,000 bombs were dropped and the very Citröen factory where I worked became a major target.  The factory was seriously damaged and set ablaze; glass and debris littered the streets all around.

“As all of our workers raced into the Metro, we were handed WWI gas masks.  We had been told to expect the Germans would be using gas.  I tried not to panic, but we were all so frightened.

After the bombing raid was over and we came up from the Metro, a concrete air raid shelters across the street, crowded with women and school children, was crushed with all of its occupants mutilated beyond recognition.  Again, I could only think of my dear son.”

I could barely breathe until I received word my Thierry was safe.  I was, indeed, grateful.  Oddly, though, after those first bombs fell, I felt panic, yet there didn’t appear to be panic around me…. only outrage and a sense of unreality—a feeling that such things could not possibly be happening to us.”

It was on or around the early part of May, 1940, when Hitler ordered the invasion of France.  Again, we French relied on our expertise on the ground.  We hadn’t planned for the Nazis’ strong ‘blitzkrieg’ (air tactics), and within two days, the Germans had cut through our beautiful Ardennes forests …..where we didn’t expect them at all.  And they had gone around the infamous Maginot Line.  How could that be?  We French had constructed this wall with the best instructions from our most famous WWI general, Martial Pétain!   But, the Germans had completely cut off all means of French attacks.  We heard that Churchill ordered a massive evacuation from our French port at Dunkirk, where tens of thousands of soldiers were transported back to Britain including many of our French soldiers.  But, still, there were massive numbers of ships bombed and hundreds of our men lay dead or were dying on the beaches and in the waters.  It wasn’t until we heard the radio reports from Dunkirk, that we finally realized we were truly no longer safe.  In retrospect, all the signs were there . . . . but, it was too late.”

“I can’t imagine how frightened you must have been,” I said.  Guilt riddled me for having brought this painful subject up in the first place. But I couldn’t help myself.  For some reason, I needed to understand how she was able to make it.  “So, what did you do?  How did you carry on?”

Marcelle took a long sip of already cold coffee and placed her cup solidly on the saucer.  I could tell she was envisioning the scenes of her past as if watching an old newsreel.  But she sat up straight in her chair and continued on.

“I remember walking to work on a June day back then.”  She paused.  “All seemed so quiet; it was hard to believe that we were in danger.  The skies were a beautiful shade of blue.  The air was warm with the coming of summer.  Everything seemed so normal.  People were laughing and drinking in the café below my windows.  In fact, I had waved to some of the women who were busy hanging their wash on the lines out back.  Why, the people in our pension seemed to be going about their business like always. Edith Piaf’s voice lilted down to me from a radio in someone’s window.  But, then, I heard a news flash on the radio that thousands of people were streaming toward Paris…. mothers, children, and the elderly were marching south on the roads, because Dunkirk had been completely destroyed.  No men accompanied them, as they were either dead or captured by the Germans.  In addition, we were hearing constant reports of our French soldiers running just ahead of the Germans….but, without any weapons of any kind.  Was that true or propaganda?”

But by June 10th, I, along with my fellow employees, were told to prepare to go directly to Bordeaux.  A new Citröen factory was to be built.  We all made arrangements to make the journey, packing everything we could carry in one valise.  Even though I had no choice but to leave my four-year-old Thierry behind, I dreaded abandoning him.  My mother had done the same to me.  But, now I better understood her.  When it’s the only job you have . . . you must go.  And I was promised Thierry would be safe until I could bring him to Bordeaux.”

“As the Germans entered from the north into the back door of Paris, the flood gates of humanity poured out to the south and to the west.  Millions of people became part of a forced march, or as it came to be known, L’Exode de Paris, or the ‘Exodus of Paris’.  It was all so sad,” Marcelle intoned.  “We thought that as Citröen employees, we would be able to take the train.  But, as it turned out, we became like the rest of the refugees, forced to walk.  All the way to Bordeaux . . . 499 km. or 310 miles.

It was common to see little tots being carried, small carts being pulled by animals, big people, old people, children, all carrying everything they could possibly carry….everything they owned.  It was like we now see on T.V….but, from other countries. Families were evacuating the only lives they had ever known.  On that day we became part of the ‘Saleté Refugiate’ or the ‘dirty refugees’.  Unfortunately, that was not the last time we felt that scorn from our own countrymen.

“At the same time, unbeknownst to us, the French government had also fled to Bordeaux, leaving the war hero, Martial Pétain in charge.  They hoped for time to restructure the French government in relative safety.  As we all left the City of Lights behind, none of us knew what we would find at the other end of the road.

“Within a matter of days, the Germans had taken hold of Paris and, General Martial Pétain—that same WWI French war hero—had surrendered all of France.  How could that be?  We were stunned! We had been sold out like rabbits!  Even the French government had been left out of the debate.  But, even though we French harbored great resentment, we knew we must work and we must survive.

“Six weeks later, desperate to see my son, I, like so many of us, returned to Paris.  We proud French did not want to work for the Germans, but pride did not feed us or our children.  We had no choice! We were forced to return to the repaired Citröen factory, but this time to work for the Germans.  And this time we were forced to manufacture weapons to be used on our own people.”   She sighed and shook her old head sadly.  “At least my son was safe and that was all that counted—all that ever counted to me.”

Interview with Marcelle Pourrette which led to the historical novel, A Cup of Redemption.

 

Another way that She Writes Press, my publisher, has chosen to recognize my books–both A Cup of Redemption and Recipes for Redemption:  A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption – December 2016
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Fall, French cooking and San Francisco, a Bon Appetit combination with Les Dames d’Escoffier

Fall, French cooking and San Francisco, a Bon Appetit combination Special

Posted Nov 5, 2016 by Jonathan Farrell

Bay Area based author Carole Bumpus was delighted when she got the news that she and her companion cookbook, ‘Recipes for Redemption’ from her novel ‘Cup of Redemption’ were invited to the “Literary Feast” of Les Dames d’Escoffier on Nov. 13.

Founded in 1989, Les Dames d’Escoffier-San Francisco Chapter is an invitational organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education, advocacy and philanthropy.

Maurine Killough, courtesy of Les Dames d’Escoffier, SF Chapter

“It’s just for cookbook authors she told this reporter, and some of the best in the world. So, I’m pretty stoked.”

Founded in 1989, Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEI), San Francisco Chapter is an invitational organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education, advocacy and philanthropy.

“LDEI is an international organization of women leaders who create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, beverage and hospitality professions,” said Karen Mackenzie speaking on behalf of the organization. “To do this LDEI members must share knowledge, support members and provide leadership, educational opportunities and philanthropic events for the larger community,” she added.

Fortunately for Bumpus, just like her novel “A Cup of Redemption” the opportunity to be part of this unique-one-of-a-kind event presented itself, unexpectedly. “As president of the California Writers Club for the San Francisco-Peninsula branch, it is my job to keep all of our members informed,” she said. “It just so happens that my newsletter editor also works with Les Dames d’Escoffier and also the San Francisco Professional Food Society, explained Bumpus. She was so taken with my novel and its companion cookbook, “Recipes for Redemption” that she approached Les Dames d’Escoffier; and it went from there.”

“Confirming its role as one of the world’s top food cities, San Francisco boasts more award-winning cookbook authors than any other city on Earth, and many of them happen to be both women and members of Les Dames d’Escoffier,” said Mackenzie.

Among the top chefs and authors participating in the event are Teri Sandison, Paula Wolfert, Dorie Greenspan, Joyce Goldstein, Diana Kennedy, Jerry DiVecchio, Amy Guittard, Leslie Sbrocco and Georgeanne Brennan, among many others. The authors will be offering signed copies of their books for sale, and many will offer samples of favorite recipes featured in the cookbooks.

Funds raised through the sale of $10 advance tickets ($12 at the door) will benefit the Culinary Scholarship Fund of Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco. For more than thirty years, the non-profit organization has supported aspiring women chefs, authors, scholars, and hospitality professionals.

“Never before have so many leading lights of the culinary world gathered in one place specifically to meet fans, share insight, and raise funds for a worthy cause,” said Helen Roberts, president of the San Francisco chapter. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that brings together more culinary talent under one roof than ever before.”

Bumpus noted that she is very honored and grateful to have been invited. Her book “A Cup of Redemption” and its companion cookbook emerged very unexpectedly during her travels as a food and travel blog writer. She was in France and while asking a local French woman about what she prepared for meals at home, the woman began to talk (through an interpreter) about experiences of World War II. The woman’s life-story was so compelling that Bumpus went back to France after her initial trip for the blog and spent the next 10 years, arranging the basis of the woman’s story into a novel.

The companion cook book to the novel “Recipes for Redemption,” features all the food dishes mentioned in “A Cup of Redemption.”

Courtesy of Carole Bumpus

The companion cookbook to the novel “Recipes for Redemption,” features all the food dishes mentioned.

“They will be selling my cookbook at the event and I will be bringing 100 little ‘amuse bouche’ which I will make myself, to sample. Nice trade-off,” she said. “I’m probably the very least known in this realm.”

Yet even so, the recipes Bumpus featured in her companion cookbook were impressive enough to inspire a chef, Geoffroy Raby to place them on his menu. Raby who is owner of Cuisinett, an authentic French bistro on San Carlos Avenue, just off El Camino Real in San Carlos, has been reaching the hearts of Peninsula customers with his down-to-earth approach to the classic French cuisine.

Bumpus is looking forward to the ‘Literary Feast’ event which will be held at San Francisco’s Ferry Building on November 13, from 3-6 PM. Advance tickets are available through the CellarPass web site. For further details visit the Les Dames d’Esscoffier, San Francisco Chapter web site.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/print/article/478874#ixzz4PFvmQ7O0

 

 

Continuing events for both A Cup of Redemption and Recipes for Redemption – October 2016

It’s been a year since Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption came into the world and almost two years since A Cup of Redemption made its debut!  It has been quite an interesting couple of years!  Who would have guessed my novel would end up winning, not only national awards, but also international recognition?  And, my little cookbook is no slacker!  It, too, acquired awards both here and abroad and took me into culinary arenas I never thought imaginable . . . cooking schools, food historian dinners, a fun ‘French bistro night’, private culinary events in both Southern California and Austin, Texas . . . Oh, and my cookbook was also featured in a local French bistro, Le Cuisinett for six months.

This past week-end, I was able to read from my novel, A Cup of Redemption, at the infamous LitCrawl–LitQuakes literary week of authors in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Yes, it was raining cats and dogs, but it was a cozy place for a group of us authors and also for those who had come in out of the rain to listen.  Always a fun time to be shared with many!

Next month, on November 13th, I will be involved in something I could never have guessed possible.  I have been invited to participate in Les Dames d’ Escoffier – San Francisco Chapter’s special event—‘A Literary Feast’.  There I’ll be, along with many of the world’s top-selling cookbook authors, who will gather for the first ever special event at San Francisco’s Ferry Building from 3-6 p.m.  We will be on hand to sign our cook books and to share ‘amuse bouche’, or small bites, from recipes taken from our own cookbooks.  You will easily find me!  I’ll be the one, stunned and in awe of being in the company of such culinary excellence.

When I first began to write of food and families, it never dawned on me that I would end up writing a cookbook.  Or that it would end up being such a fun way to continue the stories of my three main characters, Marcelle, Sophie and Kate.

So, after almost two years, I’m continuing to do what I have come to love best—to write about food, families, and the traditions that bind us all together.  Stay tuned as I string together more of my stories from Savoring the Olde Ways.   I did just return from Bordeaux, you know!

 

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you where you are from – Foods from the Lorraine

Taken from the pages of my new book due out called Savoring the Olde Way – French-Style.  

Mine de Recettes and Fumets du Pays-Haut

Foreword

 There is a play on words in the title: A ‘mine’ in this case means a great find, or a gold mine of recipes.  ‘Mine’ also refers to the name for the iron mine, the Mine de fer.

Fumet: refers to the fragrance of cooking while Pays-Haut refers to Piennes which is situated on a high plateau.  The area is known as the Pays-Haut or Highlands. It is also called Le Bassin Minier or the Mining Basin. 

 Introduction:

I was born in the Piennois, or the Piennes area, to a father from Poland and a mother from Italy.  From a very early childhood, I was impregnated by the “imported” cuisine that gave our region its originality.

 From our grandmothers, the ladies who came from somewhere else, a cuisine was born as a way to keep alive in the bottom of their heart, the very poignant memory of their native country.  With an incomparable “know how” and ingeniousness against all odds, they would prepare fabulous dishes that would bring together both family and friends around their table. And, before passing away, they made sure that they transmitted their secrets to their daughters, daughters-in-law—or in this case, granddaughters.

 While transcribing the recipes, which have been passed on to the daughters, some privileged moments of my childhood came to my mind.  I could imagine once again my grandmother working energetically with a ball of fresh dough that she had made, spreading it thinly, using her stick of wood to cut it into very regular lasagna noodles, then placing them over a white sheet, and lifting them in a very wide motion with her two hands to loosen them.  And how can I describe the fragrance of the tomato sauce that she had simmering on the corner of the stove, which permeated the air throughout the whole house?  Before I even left for school she was letting me guess and dream of what a delicious “pasta asciutta” I was going to enjoy at lunch.  I found again the “poundski”, the “capeletti”, the “klouski”, the “tortelli” that I still often taste.  And I discovered the tripe soup, the green gnocchi and many other dishes.

* * * * * *

 “Oh, Carole, this is a little treasure for you.  It’s exactly what we have been telling you about Piennes.  I didn’t know the author, Anne-Marie, but she certainly has touched some of the wonder of our little town,” Josiane said as she continued translating

* * * * *
Preface

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai d’ou tu viens” (Tell me what you eat, I will tell you where you are from.)

They had left from far, far away, with no hope of returning, due to poverty: the path, the little white footpath, the dusty feet, the wobbly cart, the train or the ship, the jump into the unknown. This was the destiny of the immigrant woman: illiterate, speaking a dialect, with a meager bundle of togs, humble memories and a passel of hopes.

 And yet, provident mothers, they were carrying the future, the cauldron for feeding and for the ones coming from Italy, the wooden stick to make pasta.  They had no idea of their culinary talent which seemed so simple, only based on the poor resources of their native country and the experience of their grandmothers.

The newcomers from Italy discovered in the Pays-Haut an unusual food world where corn, olive oil, tomato, soft cheese, basil, rosemary, sage and many other ingredients were unknown or rarely used.

Each one came with her dishes (recipes):  For the Frioulanes and the Venètes, it was polenta; for the Piémontaises and the Romagnoles, it was risotto and for all of them, the pasta.

 Only the milk, the bread, the bacon, the butter for some, the potato, and the lamb were familiar to them. Think of how ingenious these women who, as the first to arrive, had to find replacements for their familiar ingredients.  What a headache it was for the lady who was taking in paying guests from another region than hers! Even the soil in the gardens was not the same as in their country!

 * * * * * *

“Oh, I’ve heard of that,” I said, still brushing the croissant crumbs from my blouse.  “When I was traveling on a food tour through Liguria, near Genoa, Italy, we were taught that the only true ‘pesto’ can only be made in Liguria.  Why?  Because the soil in Liguria produces the only basil that real pesto can be made from.  Nowhere else is it truly ‘pesto’.  Oh, don’t fool yourselves, they would say.  You may think you can make the real thing, but it’s not possible.  The flavor is never the same.”

Josiane nodded her head, but continued with the translation.

* * * * * *

The Polish ladies were a little less confused. Because they, too, hailed from a northern region, they found the same resources they were used to or they quickly adapted with milk, rye, barley, buckwheat, cabbage, red beets, horseradish, cucumber, pork, potato. . .

They prepared cereal mush, wheaten soup, pickles, sauerkraut, borscht, the English beef stew of Slavic people. They prepared blood sausage and cold cuts with buckwheat and barley, sweet and moist doughnuts, cakes with poppy seeds . . .

There is much to be said about the more than forty different nationalities that moved to this area (Bassin).

Time went by; the children of the first generation grew up together sharing the same everyday life.  But, the sons and daughters of the second and third generations married into other nationalities, from one community to the other, and had children of a “mixed blood”.

The “nonne”, the “bapché”, the “mémères” (three names which mean grandma in Italian, Polish, and French) and many other women exchanged their know-how, the sweets for their grandchildren. The women got together, and found in private stores or in cooperatives of the Mines, the food and the ingredients from different countries. They talked, exchanged recipes, tried new ones and kept the ones that seemed good. Friendships were established, invitations were exchanged. Young girls and young women went to the “Home Economic School” created especially for them.  Soon young men went off to Nancy or Metz to college, “Frenchising” their everyday food and drinks . . .

 * * * * *

“You know,” said Josiane, “I think that the author of this Preface means that the young boys going to boarding school had the first opportunity to eat typical French food once they were in big cities.  Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that.  Had you, Jacky?”

“No, but I remember realizing the difference in the foods once I left home.  I can remember thinking how odd the French ate.  Yet, I was French!”

“That’s true.  I guess I just assumed that it was all French food until I moved away.  It’s funny to think of now, isn’t it?”

 * * * * *          

 What is there to say about a young man raised on Potée, potatoes roasted in lard, cottage cheese with chives, pies and potpies prepared by his Lorraine mother and who now was discovering “pasta” prepared by his young Italian wife. “My mother” he would say forty years later, “served the pasta with the sauce on the side; they were white.  My wife presented the pasta in the sauce, simmered with love; they were red.”  And still today, though he now is alone, he mixes all of it to find again the real taste of his days of happiness.  What meaning for a humble dish of pasta, don’t you think?

 They say in Spain, that when we ask for the recipe for paella of 100 adult Spaniards, we obtain 100 different recipes. But if we ask the same question of 100 Spaniards of the Levante (Eastern Spain), where the paella is the most well-known, we get 300 recipes: each one will give you his, the one from his mother and the one from his wife.

  Food still is a sign of gratitude, even though, we say that it is not what it used to be.  Humble dishes from the past are improved (beautified) today.  Maybe we do not eat them in a family setting, but in a cafeteria. The descendant of the immigrated woman of the early days is still proud to prepare for parties, all origins alike, the best dishes of this international culinary patrimony.

 It always is around a humble table that we learn how to better understand the ‘Other’.  No need to have a Balthazar’s feast!  Ah!  If all the feeding mothers of the world could reach out and hold hands!

Translated by Josiane Selvage for Anne-Marie Osiecki-Taiclet.

Literary Lunch – Draeger’s Market and Cooking School

March 5, 2016– Literary Lunch:  A new and exciting addition to my book tour

Draeger’s Market – Cooking School – San Mateo, CA

Who would have guessed that a book tour could lead to not only a sumptuous feast prepared by professional chefs, but to also have these recipes come straight from my own cookbook!  What a fun event!

 

Lemon Biscuits Pot au Feu - Draegers ClassChefsBookClubDraeger's Cooking School - Literary Lunch

 

All I had to do was show up, read from my companion cookbook, Recipes for Redemption, and share the stories about the cooks found in the novel, A Cup of Redemption.  Oh, and enjoy the succulent lunch!

Salete Refugiate – Excerpt from A Cup of Redemption

Springtime – 1943 – France

After fleeing the nightly barrage of Allied bombers over Paris, Marcelle arrived in Evaux les Bains, in the heart of the Auvergne Region. She stepped off the train with her baby, Gerard, and luggage in tow. Hoping to put the terror of living in Occupied France behind her, they had endured a harrowing day-and-a-half train ride, only to have the train strafed time and again by the Allies. Finally, their fear and torment was behind them. They were now safe.

She shook the coal dust from her clothes, from her infant, stamped her feet of soot and brushed a lengthy shank of her dark hair behind her ear. She needed directions to the village of Mainsat where her 8-year-old son, Thierry, awaited her arrival. He, too, had fled Paris seven months earlier, along with the remaining Parisian children.

She stepped up to a cluster of local peasants, who reminded her of her beloved Bretons. The women wore regional dress—black, full-length dresses with white aprons and round, white lace coifs pinned on their heads, while the men wore dark blue denim smocks over black work pants. Seeing the Auvernais for the first time, Marcelle breathed a sigh of relief for she felt as if she was back home in Brittany. But, once she began to ask for directions and heard their reply, she realized the regional dialect was not one she understood. It took a few minutes for her to understand their response. During that interim, her presence was met with more than a distant and cool demeanor . . . in fact, one of great antipathy.

Hoping she had understood the directions correctly, she thanked them, shifted her baby up in her arms, grabbed her belongings with the other hand, and began to head out of town. After only a few meters away, she heard what sounded like a cat-call. She turned back, just as the words, ‘saleté refugiate,’ were hurled her way.   Not understanding the words, she knew by the tone and the curl of their lips that she was not accepted. Even the thought of the words struck at her heart. As she walked further down the dusty road, the meaning of the words came to her: ‘filthy refugee’. To have such foul words flung at her at a time when she already felt so abandoned and so alone, she almost dropped to her knees.

Although a very young woman now, Marcelle was born on the last day of WWI, never knew her own father and suffered the humiliation of illegitimacy. Now she tried to save her two—yes, two illegitimate children—from the degradation of the human spirit during wartime. It was difficult enough to be loathed by the Nazis. But, the almost crippling pain she felt from the collective fear and hatred from her own Frenchmen due to war was almost more than she could handle.

Instead, she put on a smile and trudged on. She had her beloved son awaiting her arrival. And, she understood the fear. She had felt it in Paris. It was the reason she had fled. Everyone had become a possible enemy; anyone could be a collaborationist. Yes, in trying to save her little family, she had become a ‘saleté refugiate’ and she would have to rise above it.

Excerpt from my historical novel, A Cup of Redemption

 

 

The Forgotten D-Day, but Not Forgotten Veterans

Four remaining WWII veterans of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (Rock of the Marne) are sleeping in their own beds tonight, their whirlwind tour du France of the 70th Anniversary of the Southern D-Day a year ago last August–now a dim but savored memory.  But, as this Veteran’s Day approaches, what will these men dare to dream?  Will these Octogenarians and Septuagenarians dream of the few brief days they were celebrated as heroes?  Certainly, their friends and family members, who didn’t accompany them, will never understand.  The U.S. nation as a whole rarely grasps their valiant participation in yet another D-Day. And will time separate them from the richness of French gratitude extended to them during this eleven-day tour?  If our veterans could hold on to only a few of the words delivered by French dignitaries and the hundreds of men, women and children who came forth in the sweltering heat to honor them that August summer, then maybe their dreams each night will be a little sweeter.

The 70th Anniversary of the Southern Landing (the 2nd D-Day) on the Côte d’Azur in France began for our men on August 15th –the actual 70th Anniversary of the landing on three of the beaches—Pampelonne near St. Tropez, La Croix Valmer and Cavalaire-sur-Mer—where the historic landings took place.  Our men, in spite of being crippled by old age, stood tall and participated in seven commemorative events—just that day.  These included placing wreaths at the memorials of our fallen soldiers, participating in parades, and being honored and celebrated with receptions, speeches, dinners, and an extraordinary fireworks display that evening in Cavalaire-sur-Mer.

The following days found our veterans continuing their tour north—north along their original trek of liberation—stopping at one village after another (twenty-five in all) along the Rhone River, through the French Alps, the Vosges Mountains, and at the infamous Colmar Pocket where so many of our men lost their lives.  (Our John Shirley, from Livermore, CA. was captured, escaped and was shot near this location in Bennwihr.)  The tour ended in a regal reception given for them in an elegant Hotel de Ville in Chateau Thierry outside of Paris.  Throughout the tour, the pomp of full military accord with color guards, military bands, veterans of the 1st French Army, the French Air Force and members of the French parliament to wizened Partisans and former F.F.I. members met these ‘reluctant heroes’ and help to make certain they received their just due.  Through parades, festivals, commemorative ceremonies, receptions, and luncheons, speeches from mayors, vice mayors, and Counselor Generals, the messages could be heard.  But, it was also from the hundreds of villagers who lent their cheers and their tears to the soldiers who freed them.  Literally thousands of people gave of their time and talents to making this 70th Anniversary tour one of their best.

The veterans themselves stood tall and accepted their praise, but still after all of these years, their quiet response was:  “We were just doing our duty.”   Especially while standing before the sea of white crosses (including Stars of David) stretched across the fields of Draguignon, Épinal and the American Lorraine cemeteries, their voices remained silent; their tears gave way to their heart-felt grief and sadness.  Comrades lost; dreams unrealized.

But, it was probably the letters written for the veterans and read by the children of Saulx de Vesoul and Bennwihr, which touched the men most deeply:  “We will never forget,” they read as their small, clear voices reached forth, rising above the church bells which began to ring.  “We will never forget how you brought liberty to our beautiful country.”  “We will never forget that you saved us from the grip of German tyranny and freed us.”  “Because of your sacrifice, peace is now our second religion.”  “Thank you for the sacrifice of your lives.”  Throughout the readings, the church bells continued to chime, ringing the bells of Freedom and Thanksgiving.

Yes, that was the echoing refrain:  “We will continue the memory of your deeds with our children and our children’s children,” the French told our men.  “We will remind them of the sacrifices you made for us,” the mayors of each city invoked.  “We will tell them about how you, not much older than children yourselves, came to a foreign land to save us from tyranny.  No, we will never forget!”

Sleep well our ‘reluctant heroes’, for you have made our world safer and there are those who will never forget your sacrifice.  Yes, the second D-Day for the U.S. may not be known, but in France you, as veterans and your deeds, will never be forgotten.

 Happy Veterans Day to our own beloved veterans!!

2014-08-15 10.39.01John Shirley, 2nd Lt., of Livermore, CA

Patrick Heagerty, Sgt., Manlius, NY

Gerald Papin, Sgt., Spring Hill, FL

Charles Condren, Pfc., Kerhonkson, NY

 

 

 

CRÊPES de FROMENT

My newly published cookbook, Recipes for Redemption, serves up the wit and whimsy from the original text of the novel, A Cup of Redemption.  As an example or as a little ‘amuse bouche’, please find the following:

CRÊPES de FROMENT

BRITTANY – 2002 – ST. MALO –   ‘A crown of stone above the waves,’ wrote Gustave Flaubert of the magnificent walled city on the sea.

As the two women ventured farther into Brittany, rain fell gently upon them, off and on, light and misty at times, changing slightly with the wind.  The November air felt cool but not cold, so as they traveled around the fringes of Brittany’s coastline, they popped in and out of the car enjoying the seascapes.  It was early afternoon when they veered off the main road to stop in the walled city of St. Malo.  The tide was extremely low.  Old tugs and sailboats listed heavily to one side with their keels resting lazily in the mud.  The two climbed from the car to follow a path where locals walked along the sea wall with their dogs, stopped to chat with old friends, or disappeared through the city gates.  Before the majestic Solidor Tower within the city wall, others sat quietly on park benches to smoke or ponder the day.  Sea gulls and pelicans skulked about the edges of the water in search of lunch, as the smell of salt, sea and seaweed wafted up to the two as they sought out a creperie.   [A Cup of Redemption – Pg. 265-6]

**And as a special treat to you, my reader, I am including a part of a chapter which had been cut from the original novel, A Cup of Redemption, but tells more of the story of the women, politics and crêpes enjoyed in St. Malo.

“Hear that?” Kate asked.  “I believe that’s my stomach growling.”  Sophie, the quintessential tour guide, rose to the challenge.  Kate’s appetite was one she herself did not have, but could certainly accommodate.  She quickly moved back into her mode of ‘taking charge’ and off they went.  Vite!  Vite! Off to a number of little cafés which paralleled the water.

Unfortunately for them, it was nearing 2 p.m. and the cafés were preparing to close for the afternoon.  Not to be daunted, Sophie asked for suggestions, and they were directed up the street to a little crêperie.  As the door swung open and they entered the tiny shop, they were hit with the sweet smell of sizzling crêpes.  The banter inside, between the owner and his patrons, was also rich—rich with talk of the national primaries which had taken place earlier that week.

“What are they saying?” Kate asked Sophie, as they slid into a booth near the bar.

“The owner of the crêperie is saying, after eighteen years of flipping crêpes, mind you, he has made the decision this very week to sell his business and is also thinking of leaving the country as well.  It appears Brittany is not far enough away from the fray of presidential politics!” Sophie said with a toss of her head and a hearty laugh.

“Nothing good could possibly come from either Presidential hopeful,” the owner intoned.  “But we will know shortly, as the run-off is due in another week.”  He prepared crêpes at a fast clip as he bemoaned the thought of having to sell! “But, then, what is a Frenchman to do?  Enough is enough!” he wailed.

“I’ve never had a crêpe made in Brittany, the crêpe capital of the world,” Kate whispered.  She ordered two—they’re small, she thought—a savory one with a bit of ham and cheese, and a sweet crêpe made with a red berry confit with butter drizzled throughout and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Sophie opted for a savory crêpe, as well.  But only one!  The crêpes were served hot, steaming actually, and the brown lacy pancakes literally melted into their mouths.

“Did I even chew?” Kate asked out loud.  “A quick cup of coffee is definitely needed now,” she said.  But, while Kate had been totally engaged in eating, Sophie, like the Frenchwoman she is, was more interested in debating the issues of the contentious upcoming run-offs.  Her laughter rang through the small café, and others joined in with her.  She turned to Kate and said, “Just like I told you!  People everywhere are planning to go to the polls with clothes pins on their noses—just to show their distain!!”  She laughed again.  They all laughed again, and their voices remained raised.  “These people still live in France,” Sophie said, in way of explanation.

As the two slipped out the door, Sophie said yet again, “Those are Frenchmen for you; they never miss a chance to debate politics!  I love that about my countrymen.”  [Recipes for Redemption – pg. 76-77]

A SNIPPET OF FOOD & TRAVEL ADVICE

TIP:  While visiting abroad, if you are searching for a sure-fire recipe to open up a topic of culinary conversation, simply ask your host to tell you about his or her favorite foods as a child.

This was advice I was given about fifteen years ago. Shortly thereafter, I began to put this tip into practice. It was like magic!  This should be easy, I thought. Everyone has a favorite food or a favorite story to share. But early on, I realized the necessity of preparing myself for this ‘event’, for an event it often became.

First, I settled into a comfortable chair and accepted the almost-always proffered glass of wine. I would take a sip and then breathe deeply, for I knew with almost giddy delight that once I asked the recipe question I would be in for a most passionate journey.

Immediately, I would notice eyes taking on a faraway look, and even before speaking, a smile would envelop her face. Within seconds, the fondest of memories would rise to the surface—moments of delight of holidays past . . . favorite family foods…cherished traditions…beloved family stories! Before I could even take another sip, my host would leap out of her seat, eyes now bright with excitement as she rushed off to the kitchen. “Here it is!” she’d exclaim as she clamored back to my side. And, she was right. There it was! Still clutched tightly in her hands—all smudged with past effort and spattered with conviction—was proof of a specialty worthy of sharing: her favorite recipe card.

Immediately, her arms would begin flailing, as mixing motions would sweep the air. Within moments, a family treasure would be rattled off and, fortunately, I was prepared. I had put my wine glass down, taken up my note pad, and proceeded to capture her piece of cherished culinary history.

Ah, but every once in a while this process took a different turn. Like peeling the leaves from an artichoke, I found the heart of the matter was sometimes still nestled deeply inside. Maybe it was my abiding interest in food and family, but I was most privileged to hear some of the most intimate stories of generations past recounted.

Last October, having been given permission to bring some of these stories to light, I published my debut novel, A Cup of Redemption, based on some of the stories, recipes and musings of one elderly Frenchwoman, Marcelle Zabel. Now, less than a year later, on August 15, 2015, my second book, Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption, will be published. You will find it is filled with the promised recipes from the novel, along with tidbits and banter shared not only by Marcelle, but also her daughter, Sophie and friend, Kate. Yes, they are all back and anxious to have you join them in a rollicking good time as they traverse the French countryside sampling regional foods once again and gathering even more recipes. Share in their fun!

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