Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Political Cookery

From Elaine Sciolino:
“It is our national responsibility to cook and to eat well,” Ms. Branget, a deputy from the center-right party of President Nicolas Sarkozy, said as she washed sand from fat, spongy morels at her kitchen sink. “There are no political parties around the dinner table. By creating this book, male and female deputies are defending their regions and carrying out their political mandate.” 
One could hardly imagine an American member of Congress making such a proclamation. But food is so much a part of France’s identity that the government led a successful campaign last year to win United Nations recognition of the French meal as a national treasure. Elected deputies can rise and fall on the extent to which they protect the terrains of their grape growers, the subsidies of their milk producers, the clean water of their oyster cultivators and the rights of their recreational hunters.
Seventy-two of the 111 female deputies (who make up about 18 percent of the Assembly) chose not to participate in the cookbook project, including two who hope to win the Socialist Party nomination for next year’s presidential election: Martine Aubry, the head of the party; and Ségolène Royal, the party nominee who lost to Mr. Sarkozy in 2007.
The presidential hopeful François Hollande from Corrèze, Ms. Royal’s former partner and the father of their four children, by contrast, related with gusto and a long explanation a recipe for “farcidure grillée du pays d’Egletons,” a potato-based dish with many versions that looks like a latke crossed with a Spanish omelet. He also defined it as women’s work, which may not help him with the women’s vote. “Voilà how for so many years on end women fed their families with almost nothing” except this “farcidure,” he wrote.


Cincinna said...

  This goes beyond the farcical into the absurd!  And I love cooking, history of gastronomy, and cookbooks. I have a collection of over 500 cookbooks, and I read them & cook from them. This takes the cake for pretension & pandering. 
 La Gauche Caviar giving recipes to appeal to the "little people" is revolting in its pandering, not to mention the blatant sexism.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

You seem to have missed the fact that the first chef is from la droite champagne, not la gauche caviar.

Anonymous said...

the sexism in the project must have been apparent since women refused to participate. As for men, based on the excerpt, they didn't give an example of what they cook... rather of what is cooked for them when they visit their district.
As for "not helping with the women's vote", many of Hollande's supporters are young men who graduated from the Grandes Ecoles, so even if the women's vote is marginal he must feel pretty safe saying such things.
So, in the end, it's pretty informational, even if it's not in the way the journalist intended it.
Is anybody covering tonight's debate? If so, I hope it's Erlanger, not Sciolino.

Anonymous said...

As weird as Sciolino's this article's entrypoint: a love triangle overshadows French politics! Nah, not at all. However I loved Hollande's description, because that's exactly how I see him: portly and bespectacled who went on a diet and switched to contacts, totally into fiscal reform.

Remember, if there's a Hollande/Royal showdown after October 9, you read it here first!

In my opinion, it'd be the most interesting choice - two clear positions within the PS. When Martine Aubry was asked what distinguished her from Hollande, she replied "I'm a woman, he isn't", which I blamed on being unprepared; the following day she was asked again and although she'd had a day to prepare she made a joke again "He was successful with his diet, I wasn't". Which to me implies there aren't any major differences between the two.

Since Valls and Montebourg don't seem to stand a chance of winning, I'd want a clear choice between two very different candidates, Royal and Hollande.
Plus of course there'd be tons of journalistic mileage there. :)

The first debate is tonight, France 2. Hopefully more than favorite recipes will be discussed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was mostly women who handled the cooking in the past, is it now politically incorrect to mention it?