Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I am talking to Everyday Monet author Aileen Bordman about what France means to her.
Aileen Bordman is a filmmaker, author and photographer. She is the president and founder of Monet’s Palate, Inc., a company dedicated to sharing the world of Claude Monet. She is the coauthor (with Derek Fell) of Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny (read my review here). Aileen is also the creator, writer, and producer of the acclaimed documentary film Monet’s Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Garden of Giverny, which was narrated by Meryl Streep.
She has been immersed in the world of Claude Monet since 1980, and her knowledge and passion with respect to Claude Monet's lifestyle, cuisine and gardens is sought worldwide. She lives in New Jersey
Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?
Aileen: One need only walk the streets of Paris, to realize there is something very unique, special about France. There is a sensibility of style, culture and zest for the best life has to offer.
2) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?
Aileen: My earliest and many of the happiest were visiting with our French family. Paris during the 60’s was spectacular, and the family owned vacation homes in Juan-les-Pins, Narbonne, part of the French Riviera, and Le Touquet, where beaches are created each year. Oh, I had my first taste of really good marzipan there.
3) Where did your love of Monet and his garden start?
Aileen: It started from the moment I set eyes on the magic Monet had created. Truly. I am not alone with respect to this reaction.
4) How does France inspire your writing?
Aileen: That is a really good question. I have often said that France, especially Giverny and Paris, makes me feel more alive. This feeling could only make my writing more passionate. Being in France makes me want to write, to share the beauty and inspirations that feed my soul.
5) Every region in France has it’s own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish?
Aileen: Indeed, Tarte Tatin! And it is very Norman, right down to its buttery crust and luscious apples.
6) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?
Aileen: Honestly, and it’s a tradition for me. Orangina.
7) What is your favourite thing to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie?
Aileen: Pain aux amandes, the perfect almond croissant, my favorite is at Gérard Mulot, on Rue de Seine.
8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature tomme, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?
Aileen: A lively question, deserves my very goat response.
9) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite, what is your favourite French city and why?
Aileen: Paris, Paris, Paris! The why would require a dissertation. A practical response is that it makes me feel alive. I breathe differently in Paris. That is not an original statement.
10) You have written two books about Monet, one concentrating on his kitchen garden and the new one showing us all how we can channel our inner Monet in our own homes and gardens, do you have any plans for more Monet inspired projects?
Aileen: I have been so wonderfully immersed in the creation of Everyday Monet, and plan to spend a great deal of time trying to share its contents. The time to think about the next project will present itself at the right time. For now, I am on a mission to share the beauty Monet created at Giverny, and I am so grateful to have these presents books to help me spread the word.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.
You can read my review of Everyday Monet here and if you are looking for a beautiful gift for someone special, I can recommend this book. Links to Amazon for both Aileen’s books can be found below.