Friday, July 29, 2011

Excuse me, please. My purse is ringing.

This is an article I wrote in 1998 for a column I had for a while in a Michigan newspaper.  The figures obviously would need updating, and maybe America has caught up with France in cell phone use, although I think the U.S. moved on to the iPhone now, and I feel that's a different animal from the cell phone.  But the stories will still ring true (pun intended).

When you live on two continents, half the time in France and the other half in the States, you start to notice similarities. And differences.
     One of the similarities is cell phones. One of the differences is how far-reaching the phenomenon has become. I’m not sure if it’s the roaming fees or the plethora of models and service providers to choose from, but America is definitely falling behind in the cell phone race. And I can prove it.
     During the rush up to Christmas, stores in France sold nearly 800,000 cell phones. 800,000 in a nation of some 55 million people. Not bad for a country where only thirty years ago you had to wait up to two years to get any phone at all! Yet now there are so many people talking and faxing that France has adopted ten-digit phone numbers, even for local calls.
     800,000 new cell phone callers added to the ranks of people who already owned one. Me included. Yes, I admit it. I have walked the streets of Paris, semi-oblivious to the beauty of the City of Light, my Motorola clutched to my ear, talking to friends sometimes, but usually doing business, making a last-minute appointment or booking a hotel or restaurant for my tour clientele. Sometimes as I walked my purse would ring and everyone would turn and stare. Those times are over. People no longer stare. They’re too busy reaching for their cell phones to see if the call isn’t for them!
     Ah, the cell phone. What a great invention
     But it creates very strange situations, such as...
     While a friend and I were searching desperately for a parking place on the Ile St. Louis, a tiny island floating in the Seine behind Notre Dame Cathedral, our hearts leapt for joy as a man got in his car. Great, we thought, he’s leaving. We can take his place and make it to the restaurant for dinner before it closes. But no. He wasn’t leaving, just getting into his car... to phone! Why didn’t he use the phone at home? He must have been calling his mistress.
     Then there was the lady in the phone booth. She blithely chatted on, the phone cradled against her shoulder as she leafed through a magazine. Suddenly there was a ringing, and she pulled out a cell phone and took a second call with her other ear.
     Cell phoning isn’t just a street phenomenon though. People are even calling each other from trains. One woman was so aggravated at having to listen to a fellow passenger tell his whole life story over his cell phone, loudly and at great length, as they raced across the French countryside that she started to read her book out loud. "What are you doing?" the man asked in an irritated tone. "The same thing as you," replied the woman stonily.
     But I think the prize has to go to this strange-but-true cellular story.
     Among his Christmas gifts, a man got a cell phone. After all the presents had been opened, he and his guests adjourned to the dining room to enjoy a typical Christmas feast, complete with many courses and washed down by the appropriate wines. A few hours later, when he returned to the living room to try out his new toy, he couldn’t find it. He searched through the remains of wrapping paper scattered around the tree. In vain. He looked behind the sofa cushions, under the tables and chairs, searched his pockets. His guests all helped. Suddenly a friend had an idea. "Why don’t you just call the number and we’ll locate it when it rings." Brilliant! They found the number and dialed it. After a pause, they heard a muffled ringing, which, when traced, was coming from... the stomach of the man’s large dog! The veterinarian, consulted over a real phone, advised him just to wait until Nature ran its course.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I just had to post something today, as the Tour de France ends. And my Dutch-cum-French friend Simon unknowingly obliged by sending a video link to me:  Vive le Tour.  It would appear to have been filmed in 1962, because it mentions an epidemic of "poisoning by bad fish" that occurred that year. But this version of the film was released by Janus in 1966.
     Simon wrote: "If you like the Tour. Sensational documentary about the 1962 edition. Familiar and alien at the same time. Watch the riders stock up on beer in local bars before a climb (at 5 min), or the rider getting stitches on his face on the move (10 min), the vintage advertising trucks, the worries about "le doping", already a hot topic... Voice-over is in French, but the images stand on their own. It's a gem."
     I liked Simon’s moments, and was also surprised by one detail: the newspapers. For those of you who don’t understand the French commentary, those newspapers that spectators hand the riders (at the 17-min mark) are to insulate their bodies in the mountains, where differences in temperature can be extreme, especially given the enormous physical effort.
     And I recognized - with a bit of nostalgia, if truth be told - the era, the France that I discovered on my arrival.  The cars.  The old police uniforms.  The décor, with a spotlight on the phone booths.  The clothes, especially boys in short pants (something you don't see any more).  The old police uniforms.  The product brands. The "kinder, gentler" times when Aspro aspirin was plastered on ambulances
     More than all, it was the exhaustion and pain that struck me. Blood running down the face of one man as he pedals on. The oblivion in the eyes of another who falls, gets back on his bike and rides until he falls again, totally unconscious. Seriously injured racers being strapped to the outside of a helicopter that whisks them off to the hospital. As I said in my previous Tour de France blog, some* men have even died during this race, and it’s amazing that number isn’t greater!

But the ultimately fascinating thing about this 19" documentary is who made it. The opening credits say "as seen by"... and then list five names of famous film people. The first is Jacques Ertaud, a French film director, explorer and sportsman, all three of which he rolled into his documentaries. But Ertaud also filmed fiction, albeit with a social message, such as L’Homme du Picardie, a TV serial about a barge captain that had all of France riveted to the TV screen around dinner time my first year in France. (He also co-directed a film on the Grenoble Winter Olympics with my dear friend JJ Languepin, but that’s another story.) Apparently his contribution here was in cinematography.
     The second name on the list is Ghislain Cloquet, a Belgian director of photography (aka cameraman) who worked with many great directors and won an Oscar of his own for Polanski’s Tess. According to what I was able to ferret out, this is his footage. I love that it not only focuses on the athletes but also on the spectators, lovingly lingering on faces of Breton women in lace head gear at the start.
     The fourth name, for the musical score, is French composer Georges Delerue, called the "Mozart of the cinema". Delerue wrote the music for as many as six films per year from 1952 to 1995. Internationally renowned, he won an Oscar for A Little Romance in addition to an Emmy and three Césars (the French Oscar), plus myriad Oscar, César and Golden Globe nominations. Here he captures the bal musette atmosphere of the event.
     The fifth name on the list is Jean Bobet, a French cyclist - less gifted than his famous older brother Louison. This younger Bobet decided to park his two-wheeler and move on to "bicycle journalism", both as a sports writer and announcer. Which explains why it’s his voice you hear as narrator.
     But the key name on the list has to be the third one: French director Louis Malle, who spent the second half of his career in the United States (Pretty Baby, Atlantic City) and was married to Candice Bergen. In addition to fiction, Malle also filmed documentaries, including the Oscar-winning The Silent World with Jean-Yves Cousteau, where he ruptured both of his eardrums, thus putting an end to his underworld career. This is indeed his movie, because he wrote it and shot it.
     Film reviewer Nathan Southern summed it up well. "Most of all, Malle underscores, with great admiration and astonishment, the grueling physical exhaustion that the race exacts from even the most seasoned riders. Vive le Tour is a worshipful documentary of a sport made by a man who knew it intimately and loved it: next to filmmaking, cycling was Louis Malle's second great lifelong passion."
     In a lighter vein, but still on the subject, I would strongly suggest you go find the animated film, Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville in English) by Sylvain Chomet (2002). It’s the story of a young boy who dreams of one day racing in the Tour de France. It has everything: a boy, his dog, his devoted grandmother, bike racing, the Mafia... even a touch of jazz. It’s a masterpiece worthy of Hitchcock!  (And when you do, remember the camion-balai, the van that picks up the stragglers.)

Update:  For the record, the last stage of the Tour de France is always into Paris plus a few laps up and down the Champs-Elysées. This year’s overall winner of the three-week race was Australian Cadel Evans, the first man ever from the Southern Hemisphere to have won it.
     "A few people always believed in me, I believed in me, and here we are today. We did it," Evans told Eurosport. "It's been a real pleasure, this three weeks. The real highlight of it was the last few kilometers of the time trial, I knew we were on the right track, that was incredible."
     I like his blend of pride (me) and humbleness (we). Because winning the Tour de France requires great individual skill and stamina. But it is also a team sport. Any winner will tell you that. No one can win the maillot jaune without a good team behind him.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sous les pavés, la plage

Imagine this as its former self:  a two-lane expressway
I moved to Paris right after the May-June Student Riots of 1968. I was supposed to have landed in Paris before that, but flights were cancelled when DeGaulle battened the hatches and shut down the airports. So I arrived just afterwards. The streets had already been repaired; the cobblestones that students used as projectiles against the riot police were back in place... and some streets were even asphalted over so as not to supply handy ammunition in the eventuality of a sequel.
     One slogan written on many walls during the Riots (and still visible years afterwards) was "Sous les pavés, la plage" - beneath the cobblestones lies a beach. I don’t know if the creator of Paris Plage had that in mind when this summer event was created, but it must have floated through his thoughts.
      This year marks the tenth anniversary of Paris Plage. It starts today, July 21, and runs until August 21. I’ll be back in Paris before it’s over, so I’ll post some photos then. For the moment, you’ll just have to make do with this one borrowed from the public domain.

     When Paris gave in to its pressing need to ease traffic in the center city, an expressway was created along either bank of the river: the voies sur berges. Higher than the waters of the Seine and lower than the streets along the river now run two lanes that speed over 40,000 vehicles on their way every day. Recently this expressway has been closed on Sundays to allow pedestrians, roller-skaters and bikers to enjoy some safe "me time".
     And then in 2002 another idea blossomed. "Let’s give these pale-faced city-dwellers a day at the beach!" So now, for one full month, 5,000 metric tonnes of sand is carted in to cover the expressway’s asphalt. Potted palms spring up along the Seine, deck chairs are unfolded, mist machines are hooked up and laughter is heard echoing up and down the river. The "beach" in Paris stretches one kilometer, from the exit of the tunnel running under the Tuileries Gardens all the way to the square in front of City Hall. This year there will be ten times more sand than in the past, to build "real dunes" held in place by wooden fencing.
     As beaches are the perfect playground for children, especially if they don’t have a chance to go to the real seaside, activities have been organized. There will be contests for the best sand sculpture, and sandboxes will be installed at the Pont-au-Change Bridge for the very young. There will also be slides and teeter-totters. For parents and other non-children, pétanque courts will be created and fussball tables set up. And to show that there’s solidarity in such an event, City Hall has invited over 500 children from across Europe to come share in the fun for a day. (How they get to Paris, I haven’t the foggiest idea.)
     The event has met with so much success since its start that there is now a Paris-Plage II. In the working-class 19è arrondissement of northeast Paris runs a huge man-made waterway, the Bassin de la Villette. Moored up along its "shores", visitors will find pedal-boats and kayaks to rent, and there will be areas on the "dockside" for such varied activities as tai-chi, ballroom dancing, BMX (bike motocross) and even a library.
     On July 23 there’ll be a photo marathon, with the best photos winning a prize and placed on exhibit in late August. From July 11 to 24, concerts will be held on City Hall square, after which it will be buried in sand to create four beach volley courts. The rest of the scheduled festivities can be found on
     Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë - a Frenchman born in Tunisia who knows a thing or two about sandy beaches, and who is also a Socialist - touts this event as "the meeting place of all generations, all social classes, all cultures", "a summer camp for city kids".
     I’ll report back once I’ve seen this year's edition of Paris Plage myself.

P.S. For the moment, it’s raining no end over most of Europe and Paris temperatures range in the 60's. Not really beach weather. Let’s hope the sun comes out soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

You Mean Someone LIVES There?

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook called "Nine Houses You Won’t Believe People Actually Live In". That set me thinking.
     I’ve seen my share of quirky homes during my years in France and on my travels back and forth across the Héxagone, as France is called because of its six-sided shape.
The photo in that article was of a house in Portugal built between two stones. It reminded me of Castel Meur on the north coast of Brittany. I’m showing it here at my own risk, because the present owner is so tired of having it photographed that she has acquired the right to sue anyone who reproduces it. I think her breaking point was that busload of Japanese tourists, one of whom climbed up on the roof to have his picture taken. As you can see, the house is sandwiched between two of the massive rock outcrops that are frequent along this New Englandesque coastline.
     Similar in its rockiness is a house - a much bigger one - in Biarritz. This house in the Basque region near the Spanish border was built in 1885 on a plot of land called the champ du rossignol - the field of the nightingale. Nightingale, maybe, but even looking at photos that predate the house, I couldn’t find any "field"... although there may once have been a scrap of soil on top of the rocks where some mad farmer grew something with very shallow roots. Originally built of dark stone, it’s called the Villa Belza - "black" in Basque, even though it’s now painted resolutely white. The house has quite a history: gala parties with Russian themes until it was requisitioned by the Nazis in 1940, burned twice, abandoned... Luckily, Napoleon III, emperor of France, and his Spanish wife had once made Biarritz the center of the summer universe for a minute and it’s remained a popular vacation spot, thanks to its climate, so this immense house - too much for any one wallet - is now broken down into apartments.
     The Quirky Home I discovered most recently is in the Morbihan, which is the southern third of Brittany, where the Golfe du Morbihan is studded with thousands of tiny islets. This one has a cozy house on it but no room for anything else because it’s only 25 m across; that’s 82 ft, about one-quarter the length of a football field. If global warming ever melts the polar ice cap and raises the sea level just a foot, there’ll be no island around the house at all! But in spite of its tiny size, the island does have a name: Nichtarguer, or "oyster of the village" in Breton, because it was built in 1894 for the keeper of the bay’s oyster beds. I don’t know that anyone lives in that house now, but the door and shutters were freshly painted when I saw it. I can’t imagine living in it during a storm, even though this corner of the bay is sheltered. I’m sure the wind must send waves crashing right over the rooftop, and I’m sure the blue shutters earn their keep.
     And then there are two houses built by dreamers. One is in the suburbs of Chartres, the home of the man called Picasiette - Plate Thief. Raymond Isidore wasn’t really smart, some would call him a simpleton, and he did spend some time in a mental hospital. But he earned his living sweeping out the cemetery near his home. One sunny day, on the way to work, he saw a sparkle in the gutter. Fascinated, he picked up a broken piece of colored crockery. The rest is history. From 1938 until his death in 1964 he collected ceramics to cover his two-room house with mosaics. First he would find shards in the street and in the trash. Then neighbors would give him their odds-and-ends of unmatched dishes. He’d draw an outline on the wall, then he’d break the plates and cement the pieces over the drawing. Everything was covered: the walls of his house, inside and out, the furniture, everything... right down to his wife’s sewing machine! And when that was finished, he moved on to the garden walls, covering them with multiple drawings of Chartres Cathedral. But he never finished, and some of the lines are still visible, waiting for their art naif tessera. (

The other dreamer’s home is in the Rhone Valley: the Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval. Ferdinand Cheval was a rural postmaster who walked miles and miles across the countryside every day to deliver mail. One day he tripped over a rock and found it so strangely shaped that he took it home with him. That started off something remarkable. Every day, after his rounds, he would take his wheelbarrow and walk miles back to gather more strange rocks. It took him 33 years to carry back enough stones to build his "Ideal Palace". I think his wife must have been very understanding. Although parts of his Palace look strikingly like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Cheval never saw a photo of it, or anything else Cambodian. His handiwork sprang from his bubbling imagination and what the stones reminded him of. (My favorite detail is what I see as the Three Little Pigs.) The life’s work of Ferdinand Cheval has been praised by Picasso and by surrealist author André Breton and immortalized in a collage by Max Ernst and an essay by Anaïs Nin. Since 1969, Culture Minister (and famed author) André Malraux listed it as part of France’s official cultural heritage. It’s been restored and is now open year round to the public. Technically not his house - his wife let him just "play in the garden" - it’s still on my list of incredible places people lived. (
 And finally there are the maisons troglodytes, the cave houses. They exist in several regions of France. Many are in or near the Loire Valley, such as in tiny Trôo or all along the north bank of the Loire River, where the cliffs face south to catch the warmth of the sun. There are also cave houses on the north bank of the Dordogne River, like these in La Roque-Gageac. In the Dordogne region, the land of prehistoric cave paintings, it’s not hard to imagine cavemen moving into natural caverns and then improving them by carving out more living space. That’s especially easy in the Loire Valley, where the ivory white tufaceous rock is so soft that it can be scraped away with a fingernail. An extra shelf, an extra nook, even an extra room require relatively little effort. A new baby? Just get out the chisel! In the Dordogne region, the cliffs are limestone, but still carve-able. Such cave homes had been lying empty for generations... until recently. In the 1980's, maisons troglodytes in the Loire Valley suddenly became all the rage as summer homes, especially for city-dwellers from nearby Tours. Shutters and doors were repaired and painted. Window boxes were hammered together and filled with bright flowers.  And families moved back in.
     The cavemen must be smiling.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le Tour de France 2011

Mont Ventoux
A few years ago - well, maybe more than a few but once - you couldn’t find anyone in the United States who knew what the Tour de France was to save your life. Now it’s on TV. And not even on cable alone, but also on the national channels. It attracts 12-15 million spectators watching on 121 television stations around the globe.
     For the few among you who still don’t know what it is, the Tour is a three-week 2,500-km-long bicycle race around France that started way back in 1903. It has been run biked every year since then, except during the two World Wars. In addition to a few time-trials, it combines long days speeding across vast plains under the blistering summer sun with other days pedaling up steep, never-ending mountains in the Pyrenees, the Massif Central or the Alps and then coasting dangerously fast down the other side. Merciless, the Tour de France is known for separating the men from the boys... and yes, it’s all male. There was a version for women, an abbreviated version, but it was discontinued in 2009 for lack of organization and/or money and/or interest. (Jeannie Longo was the most famous of France’s female cyclists.)
Where Tom Simpson died
     Sixty riders struck out on that first race in 1903, but only 21 crossed the finish line. Since then it’s been the downfall of many a pretentious peddler who has had to drop out along the wayside, as well as the death of four cyclists. In 1910, one drowned ignominiously during a rest day on the Riviera. Then in 1935 and 1995 two others died in respective crashes, both during mountain stages. The most heart-breaking perhaps was in 1967 when British cyclist Tom Simpson died of a heart attack trying to pedal up the Mont Ventoux (alt 1,912 m / 6,273 ft); amphetamines were found in his jersey and in his blood. What was supposed to make him faster, to make him a winner, ended up killing him.
     There has been much written about le doping, the use of drugs during the Tour. It’s the race’s dirty (not-so-)secret. Everyone is tested before the race begins. Then two samples are taken after every stage, both randomly as well as for the race leader and stage winner. In 2006, the last American to win, Floyd Landis, was stripped of his title in spite of his protests when he tested positive. 2007 was even worse, with several riders eliminated for doping. In 2010 Spaniard Alberto Contador, three-time Tour champion, tested positive for a drug used by asthma patients, and then played the "tainted steak" card. But aside from that, the last two Tours have been free from positive drug tests, so maybe it’s getting better. Or maybe, with the use of oxygen-rich blood transfusions, the riders are just getting better at covering their tracks (pun intended).
     American Lance Armstrong has repeatedly been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs but has never tested positive... not once. He won the race 7 successive times - every year from 1999 through 2005. Before him, another American biker, Greg Lemond, won it 3 times: in 1986, ’89 and ‘90. That puts the U.S. in fourth place behind France (with 36 wins), Belgium (18) and Spain (13).
     But in spite of le doping, the Tour de France remains a tremendous physical feat. Many a French boy - and some from outside of the Hexagone - trains diligently all his life and dreams of one day whizzing across the finish line on the Champs-Elysées in Paris to win the coveted maillot jaune... or even to wear it for just one stage. And you can watch all of those boys try to do just that right now. The Tour, which started on July 2nd, will end on Sunday, July 24th. Check your paper for time and channel.

For more info on the Tour de France 2011, click on:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Rabbits of Roissy

Flying into Roissy-Charles de Gaulle
I had heard about them, of course. But I had never actually seen them. The rabbits.
     Rabbits? What’s the big deal, you ask. Everybody’s seen rabbits.
     Sure, but not grazing peacefully at their warren door only ten feet off the wing of a jumbo jet revving its engines to roar down the runway.
     Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris opened almost forty years ago. So it's been around a while. And it has a problem. Aside from airline strikes on the ground, flight saturation in the air and stale croissants at the cafeteria. A structural problem.
     Safe from the fear of predators such as wolves or even foxes - all killed off by the previous farmers to protect their livestock before the airport expropriated them in the Seventies - these rabbits have had all the leisure they needed to breed like... well, like rabbits. Hunting is authorized in certain outlying areas of the airfield to try to hold the population down. But the rabbits have dug such an extensive network of burrows and tunnels crisscrossing under the entire airport that some runways have had to be reinforced to prevent subsidence. Nothing like a little underlying rabbit warren to weaken the concrete when tons of airplane touch down. You’d think those bunnies wouldn’t appreciate all that noisy weight coming thudding down on their ceiling, even if it is cement.
     I thought they were just some kind of urban myth. Over the years I had looked for them on the distant horizon with every take-off and landing. Nothing. Then suddenly there they were, those cute little brown bunnies hopping between the runways, sitting up on their haunches, looking tiny in comparison to my Boeing, and totally oblivious to the din just a few feet away. It seems that they have grown deaf, which I guess is the only way to survive if you live under a runway. Still, you’d think the vibrations would be enough to scare them off. But no, these French rabbits are plucky little devils.

     One thing that might have helped me spot them was the snow. Paris had just lived through what passes for a blizzard on their books. Five centimeters of snow! Imagine! That comes out to about an inch and a half. Seeing as I had just fled Michigan’s Blizzard of ‘99, with its knee-high snowfall, it all seemed a bit of a joke to me. But those five centimeters actually brought the whole metropolitan area to a standstill. On the bright side, there were children sledding down the hill in front of Montmartre’s Sacré Coeur, as they always do, borrowing trays from home or begging a piece of cardboard from a store. On the dark side, there was 20 miles of traffic stranded overnight on a main highway south of the city, just from gridlock, with people sleeping in their cars all night in below freezing temperatures, including one woman seven months pregnant, who wasn’t at all amused when interviewed at 3 a.m. No ice. No accident. Just a little snow.
     And that’s why I saw them. The rabbits. They had come out to search for something to eat. Maybe some stale croissant crumbs. They sat on their haunches, silhouetted against the dusting of powdered- sugar snow that had brought one of Europe’s mightiest capitals to a standstill for a brief moment.
     The rabbits of Roissy.
Twelve years later, I roll down one of those runways again, in the opposite direction. This time I see no rabbits - they blend in too well without snow. But I do see a cat stalking around the grass between the runways, which seems every bit as improbable as the rabbits once did.

As I said above, I hadn't seen the rabbits seen in a long time, but on my flight back to the States this past Wednesday I was talking to the lady next to me as we taxied to the end of the runway and... there he (she?) was, hopping over the field and then disappearing down a rabbit hole.  And no, it wasn't a white rabbit with a big fob watch.  Just an ordinary little brown bunny like the one above.

Silly that this should matter to me, but I like the idea that they have endured, as Faulkner would say.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Rougets à la crème d'olives

My local fishmonger in Montmartre
July in France makes me think of the Mediterranean. Of waves and bright sun and things you might feel hungry for even when it’s hot.
     The Mediterranean is also Olive Country. So if we take the sea and the little fish that swim therein, and we add in the unsweet fruit of the olive tree, we get something like this recipe I stole from French chef Philippe DaSilva.
     The rouget is a rockfish that loves the Mediterranean. It’s called red mullet in English. But it evidently is found only in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the eastern part of the North Atlantic. If you live outside the Mullet Zone and it’s unavailable, try substituting red snapper.
     Wikipedia says, "The ancient Romans reared them [red mullets] in ponds where they were attended and caressed by their owners, and taught to come to be fed at the sound of the voice or bell of the keeper. Specimens were sometimes sold for their weight in silver." But Romans also feasted on peacock’s tongues, so I’m not surprised by anything they did.
     The drawback with the rouget is that it has tiny bones and is virtually impossible to fillet perfectly. So even if you do your best, be careful when enjoying it; there may be a few tiny bones left and you don’t want to swallow them.
     As for the rest... enjoy. And think "vacation".

Mediterranean rouget version

  • 20 small green pitted olives
  • 1 c (25 cl) heavy cream
  • 2 T olive oil, and a bit more to sauté the fish
  • ½ lb (200 g) spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 4 rouget fillets
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh marjoram (or oregano)
  • clove of garlic
- Warm the cream without bringing it to a boil. Add the olives and continue to warm for 2-3 minutes. Put the cream, olives and 2 T of olive oil in a mixer or food processor and mix well. Add pepper (and salt, if necessary). Keep this sauce warm.

Snapper version
 - Sweat the spinach in a little olive oil, stirring it with a fork on which you’ve speared a clove of garlic. When the spinach is soft, strain off any liquid.
- Salt and pepper the rouget fillets. Brown them lightly, first on the skin side so they stay flat while cooking. When they’re just crispy, turn them over. Place a few marjoram leaves on each fillet. When the second side is crispy, turn them over again.
- Spread the spinach on a serving dish and lay the rouget fillets on top. Then pour the olive cream around the fillets.
Serves 4.

This can be accompanied by rice or boiled potatoes if a second vegetable is desired.
Serve with a chilled dry sauvignon blanc or rosé wine.