A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Les Couques de Dinant

Today is the 192nd birthday of Adolph Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Sax is the most famous citizen of Dinant, a curious little town in Belgium.

Dinant is located on the Meuse River, at a point where high rocky cliffs overhang it. It's been the site of battles and unrest since before Roman times. If you visit Dinant, you can climb up to the Citadel, or crawl through caves to get to the top. If you live there, you might join La Confrérie des Quarteniers de la Flamiche Dinantaise, a jolly group of a couple of dozen male citizens whose mission is to promote the traditions and the gastronomy of the region. That translates to wearing spiffy red and green caps and gowns, and topping off seasonal meetings with flamiche-eating contests and Rabelaisian singalongs.

The specialty of Dinant is la couque, a rock-hard cookie molded into fancy shapes. According to local tradition, les couques were invented in the XVth century and used as weapons--townspeople would throw them at the neighboring villagers.

I've had these couques sitting on my kitchen countertop for a couple of years, and they look pretty much the same as when I bought them. And somewhere packed away, I've still got the couques my mother bought in Dinant about thirty-five years ago. Last time I checked, which wasn't that long ago, they looked like they could still be eaten. Or maybe thrown at some irksome neighbor's head.


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