Today is Bastille Day—known formally in France as La Fête de la Fédération and commonly as Le Quatorze Juillet and not at all as Bastille Day. Like Independence Day in the USA, Le Quatorze Juillet memorializes the start of a political revolution aimed at replacing an absolute monarchy with a constitutional government. I experienced my first Quatorze in a little village in Aix-en-Provence at the very beginning of my importing journey.
The 4 simplicities
Dinners in the soft evening air of Provence all seem to run together: excellent simple salad, excellent simple food, excellent simple rosé, and cheese as Mother Earth made it. All enjoyed along with conversation about everything from where the wine came from to the effects of the Code Napoléon on criminal law in Louisiana.
Fromage of fear
And such was my first night for Le Quatorze Juillet in Aix-en-Provence—every detail was attended to. I sat with others on the balcony of a French friend’s 6th floor apartment drinking a festive still wine made from the base of Dom Pérignon, and eating sublime food. I had been tasked with bringing the cheese course—earlier in the day, trembling, I had begged my local fromager, doling out my crumpled francs, “Madame, please! I am going to French people’s home for Le Quatorze. It has to be the best!”
1 out of 3 ain't bad
As we sat, enjoying the bounty of Provence and watching fireworks bloom in the nearby villages, a surprising element of Fraternité developed: my friend’s “aloof” neighbors, whom she had never met, invited us over for a drink! And there, on that day, in one small wonderful hour, at least one of the three goals of the French revolution (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité) were met. And the flavor of an unusually excellent Calvados—that only folks of a certain refinement would know to buy—remains with me to this day . . .
Check out our simplest of French recipes: French Radishes and Fleur de Sel, featuring Gilles Hervy Fleur de Sel.