In a fluted glass that effervescent sparkle in champagne has a particular magic in it that people the world over like to have to toast special occasions. Books Inc. at Town and Country Village in Palo Alto will be host to culinary travel author Carole Bumpus and her new book “Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table” on Thursday Sept. 5. for her ‘Champagne Book Launch.’
This new book covers her adventures and culinary discoveries in the famous regions of Champagne, Lorraine, Alsace and Ile de France. Champagne is especially significant because of Reims and its connection to the history of France.
Reims is where the Cathedral at Reims was the center of French monarchy, piety and legacy. Monarchy in that kings were crowned here, piety in that next to Notre Dame in Paris, the Cathedral in Reims is a place of pilgrimage and seat of religious authority and legacy because this is where Joan of Arc promised a triumphant Charles VII would be coroneted.
Long before Charles was crowned, an earlier monarch, King Hugh Capet, in 987 A.D. began the tradition of having wine as part of the ceremony. Made from a Pinot Noir grape, planted some say during ancient Roman Times, the wine had a pink hue to it.
Because of the colder climate in the region, the grapes struggled to ripen, to gain a more red appearance. But when warmer weather would visit the region the fermentation process inadvertently created the now famous bubbles. Many including the monk Dom Perignon tried at first to rid the wine of bubbles because it caused bottles to explode. Yet as the distinctive wine grew in popularity, over the decades, then the centuries, (especially during the 19th Century) it became associated with festive occasions and special moments.
“Serving champagne to all guests in France is a tradition that was and is strongly adhered to, Carole said. Everywhere we went and every evening, (as detailed in her book) champagne was the very first connection of the evening fête. ‘Cheers, or Tchin-tchin’, as they say in France,” Carole added.
To toast with a glass of champagne comes from the Latin word ‘tostare’ which means to scorch or toast, as like a piece of bread. In ancient times toasted bread would be added to wine to help flavor it. Hence toast and to toast someone or an occasion became intertwined.
Apart from that special sparkle in champagne, French food is very basic as Carole discovered in her travels. Once the fancy names are translated from French into English, the epitome what most people consider as fine dining is actually ‘cuisine pauvre’ or “peasant food.”
Made of simple ingredients like onions, leeks, potatoes, basic ingredients that can be gathered anywhere, French food’s power is its ability to warm the heart and touch the soul. In fact one of the most cherished dishes of the Champagne region is La Potee Champenoise, which is basically a stew.
As Carole describes in “Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table,” it is the people and their zest for living or as is said in French, “joie de vivre” that makes French cuisine the special treat it is for most of the world.
Booklist Review praised Carole’s work by noting…“Both a regional history and a cooking memoir, this is even more than the sum of its parts, and a celebration of living life every moment. Francophiles, history fans, and foodies will love this book.”
Book reading/signing begins at 7:00 PM at Books Inc. Located at 855 El Camino Real #74, in the Town and Country Village complex. Published by She Writes Press 2019, “Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table” is book One – part of the “Savoring The Olde Ways” series which Carole will release over the next two years.
For more information visit the Books Inc. Palo alto page at the web site.
Or call the Palo Alto Books Inc. location at 650-321-0600