It seems frivolous to talk about Christmas cake when France, and Paris in particular, are being rent by riots and mayhem. (Though cake and revolution do seem to have a precedent in France …We know the consequences when one French queen suggested “Let them eat cake” …)
Seeing the videos of Paris burning and bricks and tear gas flying has been personally distressing — and such a jarring juxtaposition with my images of a peaceful Paris. So I asked a friend of mine, a Frenchman with family ties to Provence, what he makes of this winter of discontent.
People in France are very angry about Macron. They think that he behaves more like a King, not connected to the struggles of the middle class and labor force.
He raised taxes for low income citizens. My Mom who has a small pension has to pay more taxes. No taxes added for the wealthy is perceived as a huge inequality in France.
The problems are mostly social related. French people fought hard in 1936 to get social rights, paid holidays, social security, etc. … These rights in France are sacred and any attempt to reduce these rights are perceived as anti-French. (I know, we’re spoiled! and we love it 🙂 )
The French are nothing if not passionate …. !
But as my friend acknowledges, the problems in France, economic and social, are real and they are complicated. France has to adapt to the new reality. National debt is high, economy is anemic, unemployment is still way above 10%. The government has to be pragmatic and innovative to help the economy grow while reducing debts. It’s a very delicate balance that requires ingenuity. Macron’s government just goes for more taxes, like for gas, which is not innovative at all. Still, life in France goes on as the French sort all this out. And, it is Christmas time … Paris, the City of Light, is a splash with lights.
One of my favorite French holiday traditions is the quite lavish dessert Yule log or bûche de Noël. It’s a yellow sponge cake molded to resemble a miniature Yule log … but it is sooo much more than just eye candy! Lavish and lush, other ingredients may include chocolate buttercream, meringue, and perhaps some marzipan, ganache or crème Chantilly.
If you happen to be in Paris this Christmas, you can order your “limited edition” bûche de Noël from The Ritz, Paris for 110 euros (about $130) or here in the US, you can get one on eBay for $45. Bon Appetit has a recipe online for a bûche, and you can also get the edible yule log at your local Trader Joe’s. And why not top it off with Joe Joe’s bûche de Noël ice cream or wash it down with some bûche de Noël Stout … for only $3.99 …
Now, that is American ingenuity!!