LUCY KIPPIST’S JULY ALMANAC
Julie, Julius, Julius mensis, quintilis mensis.
Everything you need to know about the coming month is taken from this painting. It’s dramatic, I know. Dark and delicious. It’s called Liberty Leading the People, painted by Eugène Delacroix in 1830 and it’s one of my favourites.
It’s Delacroix’s impression of the “second revolution”; when Parisians overthrew King Charles in favour of his cousin Louis-Philippe, way back in July 1830. I’m using it here because it was widely believed that Delacroix captured the true essence of Paris at this time in history (only the French could look that good in battle). Add to that Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 and we’ve got ourselves a damn fine excuse to spend this Alamanc yakking on about how great French stuff is (with the obvious exception of the current economic situation that is best described as woeful).
July’s fresh produce is anything but woeful. Avocados, custard apples, limes, pineapple, parsnip, ginger, olives and celeriac. It’s such a fresh and vibrant array of colour this month, almost too fresh and vibrant for a Sydney July when it is mostly windy and a bit grey.
Nothing beats a bookshop on a rainy day. According to this gorgeous piece in the New York Times, France is among the only countries in the world where bookshops are still booming. I find this completely unsurprising. Old stuff still counts for something in France. Furthermore, check out that picture, can you blame the French for wanting to hang out in bookshops when they look like that? GLORIOUS. There’s not a trace of “retail” about it. The best bookshops are like this one: clean but not ordered. They have bohemian layouts, a chair here, and a book there. Also, see how every single person standing in this gorgeous store are being left alone? There’s not a salesperson in sight. For all we know, they ARE the salespeople, standing around reading books, just for the sheer pleasure of it.
JULY’S FLOWER IS THE WATER LILY.
In Asia these flowers are revered as symbols of truth, light and pure beauty.
Beauty is akin to a philosophy for the French. At least that’s how it seems to a visitor. Every possible daily ritual is just another opportunity to cultivate something truly effortless and lovely to the eye. Literature, music, art, food and wine: few countries have managed to inspire so many people, through so many ages in the manner of France. I think it starts with how they dress. Writer and actor Rachel Ward did a much better job of conveying this wonder with a series of photographic despatches for The Hoopla. She walked the streets of Paris photographing older French women’s fashion. I adored it. Especially her comments on scarves, closely followed by the woman’s camel coat. Effortlessly gorgeous.
Would. You. Just. Look. At. That. If you can’t smell the fresh chocolate ganache glaze, or imagine the effortless fluff of the smooth vanilla cream and buttery-yet-wafer-thin crunch of the choux dough, then I’m not sure we can be friends. Etymologically speaking the éclair, one of the most wonderful of all French gastronomic pleasures was named after lightening. Apparently bestowed because of the way its chocolate glaze glistened. Oh yes it does.*Photograph of eclairs via Gourmet Traveller’s July French issue.
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