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.

Friday, May 04, 2007

La Mère Poulard

Long before you are aware of the proximity of le Mont St-Michel, if you are driving towards it from the direction of Paris, you are aware of la Mère Poulard. That's a restaurant at the base of the famous shrine. Well, it's a restaurant the way Disney is a production company for cartoons. Over the years it's morphed into an institution, a brand that's intimately associated with le Mont St.-Michel and nearly as famous.

La Mère Poulard is a restaurant dating from 1879, but now also a hotel, a glacier, a piano bar, and a boutique. Gifts and comestibles from the company are sold throughout France, but especially in Normandy. Cookies, sponge cakes and Calvados with the familiar red label are found in increasing quantity at rest stops as one approaches the Mother Ship.

Unlike Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima, la Mère Poulard was an actual person. She ran a hostelry at the shrine in the nineteenth century. Remarking that the pilgrims arrived famished at all hours, she developed a signature omelet which could be prepared easily and quickly. Here's her recipe, as she gave it to a Parisian restauranteur who requested it:

Monsieur Viel,
Voici la recette de l’omelette : je casse de bons œufs dans une terrine, je les bats bien, je mets un bon morceau de beurre dans la poêle, j’y jette les œufs et je remue constamment. Je suis heureuse, Monsieur, si cette recette vous fait plaisir.
Annette Poulard

For those whose French is rusty or non-existent: break some good eggs in a bowl, beat them well, put them in a well-buttered pan and stir constantly. Hardly worth writing down, but with persistence and a strong arm that recipe made her famous. Made her, in fact, a little empire that's going strong today.

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