Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Do Frenchmen make better lovers?!

by Jo Kessel

  1. CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE WINE – this is one of France’s finest red wines. It comes from the Rhone wine region of South Eastern France and is wonderfully deep-bodied and velvety. So much so that I named the book’s male love interest – Olivier du Pape – after the wine. Oh, and you can win a bottle of it as a prize if you enter my competition!
  2. NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN – Translated this means: ‘No, I have no regrets’. It’s an iconic French song by the singer Edith Piaf, one of France’s greatest ever international stars. She became famous after World War 2 and her voice is really distinctive. This song is one of my favorite’s of hers. It’s got so much emotion in it and the lyrics are very pertinent to Weak at the Knees’ plotline.
  3. PAIN AU RAISINS – French bakeries are sensational. No-one makes a pain au raisins (a cross between a Danish pastry and a croissant filled with gooey custard and raisins) like a French bakery. Nope, I have yet to find a pain au raisins outside of France which tastes anything like the real French deal. This is what heroine Danni has for breakfast nearly every day and whenever I go to France, I have to admit that this is what I like to start the day with too.
  4. PERNOD – this is a French liqueur which tastes (and smells) of liquorice. The French drink it diluted with water and it’s a very acquired taste. I have to admit that it’s never been something I’ve taken to. In Weak at the Knees, Danni’s roommate Gina cooks up a carrot dish with Pernod in it, because it’s allegedly an aphrodisiac.
  5. MA BICHE – This looks a little bit rude (and sounds a bit like the word ‘bitch’) but ‘Ma Biche’ is actually a lovely French term of endearment. It literally means ‘my deer’ (as in the cute furry animal) but the French often use this word instead of ‘darling’. Olivier calls Danni ‘ma biche’ the whole time.   
  6. VIN CHAUD – this is mulled wine, and a delicious wintry drink served in bars in France, designed to warm you up from the inside out. In the French Alps, after a cold day’s skiing or hiking, nothing is nicer than to settle down with a hot glass of mulled wine (which has a fruity cinnamon aroma) by a warm log fire. Danni likes to do this in Weak at the Knees.
  7. FONDUE – this is a very traditional French mountain dish. Diners spear cubes of bread onto long-stemmed forks and twirl them into a communal pot of melted cheese which sits on a portable stove. It’s a very convivial meal, best enjoyed in a group, and the sauce is often laced with a sneaky amount of alcohol! It’s easy to get a little drunk when eating a Fondue! Danni and Olivier eat this one night, washed down with a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Heavenly!
  8. ESPRESSO – it’s not just the Italians who like a small cup of supercharged coffee in the morning. No, the French consume just as much. This is how Olivier starts the day, with not one cup, but about five! Danni prefers freshly brewed filter coffee.
  9. FRENCH MEN MAKE GREAT LOVERS – I’m not sure whether proper research has ever been carried out in this department (!), but I have it on good authority that French men make very sensual lovers and are way more amorous than other nationalities. Anyone care to cast an opinion on this?!
  10. FRENCH MEN HAVE A TERRIBLE REPUTATION FOR HAVING MISTRESSES – this is true! Indeed, when French President Mitterand died in 1996 his long-standing mistress attended his funeral alongside his widow. I guess they do things differently in France! Anyway, in Weak at the Knees, Danni is worried about Olivier and the reputation of his fellow men. The question is, does she need to be worried?............................…

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