Saturday, December 28, 2013

Billy Cone: Apples and More Apples

Billy Cone: Apples and More Apples: So I was living chez les Detruits in Vichy.  Each morning they would give me a roll and jams with apples.  For lunch I would be served appl...

Apples and More Apples

So I was living chez les Detruits in Vichy.  Each morning they would
give me a roll and jams with apples.  For lunch I would be served apple
bread, apples and a delicious homemade vegetable soup.  There was
very little meat, even at dinnertime.  The family would eat dinner with
me but not lunch.  We at apple pies for dessert, more apple bread, apple
jelly, apple souffl├ęs, apple tarts, apple sauce, apple cake, and just about
anything made with apples.  Walking the four miles to school everyday
and eating mostly apples was giving me a very girlish figure.  I was losing
weight.  I couldn't figure this out.  I knew it was from eating apples all the
time, but why?

Well, three months passed and the apples kept coming.  I left Vichy for
Grenoble where I skied every weekend in the Alps.  I did not eat apples.
In the Spring I went back to Vichy where I solved the mystery.  This
"struggling" working class family in France actually had two homes and
yes, an apple orchard.  The Detruits seemed like they were in dire straights
the whole time I was a boarder, demanding rent early, feeding me apples,
and boarding four nursing students in the attic.  But the truth is they were
really doing quite well.  They worked hard for the francs.  And I can't
blame them for serving their home grown apples.  But it just seemed a
bit strange that they would be so fearful of every centime.  And though
they did not want me to take more than one shower a day, I think the fact
that my French was very "rough" at the time created a cultural discord.
I am so grateful for my family experience in Vichy, because my friend
Tom Benjamin stayed with Madame Bonnefoy who prepared Cordon
Bleu caliber meals twice a day.  He only walk a few blocks to school.
And he did not have the profound cultural experience that I had, plus
he gained a lot of weight.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Billy Cone: French Technology

Billy Cone: French Technology: The Concorde developed by the French consortium Airbus, performed miraculously for over 30 years. Some time ago I got the premonition that I...

French Technology

The Concorde developed by the French consortium Airbus, performed miraculously for over 30 years. Some time ago
I got the premonition that I better experience the Concorde or it might be "too late" whatever that meant. I checked prices, and there happened to be a sale going on by Air France. Delighted by this confirmation, I bought tickets. 

One month later we spent the night in Manhattan, and the next day caught a cab to Kenndy Airport at 6am. At 8 we boarded the cozy, smaller than a 737,
fuselage and soon we were in position to take off.

The engines roared, we were pressed into our seats, and into the skies we were catapulted. Eventually we reached Mach 1.84. 1800 miles per hour!!!  Wow!!!

We were served foie gras and Champagne. 3.24 hours later we arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport, right on time.  It was 5pm in Paris. Soon we would have dinner on the Seine River the very same day we left NYC. Awesome!!!

The experience was royal, but I have never had a worse case of jetlag. Guess even French Technology can't fool Mother Nature. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Billy Cone: "Le Look"

Billy Cone: "Le Look": Again, I learned almost everything I know in Paris. Well this thing is in most major metropolitan cities in the world.  It is called &quot...

"Le Look"

Again, I learned almost everything I know in Paris.
Well this thing is in most major metropolitan cities
in the world.  It is called "Le Look."  What is it?
Well in the South it is rude.  It is usually mistaken
as a come on.  But often it is just "Le Look."

When you glance someone's way and make eye
contact and something clicks between the two--
this is "Le Look."  It is not lustful or obnoxious.
It is respectful.  What it really boils down to is
a look of approval.  It happens everywhere.

The only thing that keeps "Le Look" from
happening is when one of the two gives
a return look of disapproval or distain.
This ruins what could have been a very
good thing.

So in a world of outdoor cafes, bars and
restaurants is is not uncommon to give or
get "Le Look."  Enjoy the affirmation.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Billy Cone: "La Mode"

Billy Cone: "La Mode": OK, so I go to France and know nothing about anything. I am totally open to almost everything.  From the very start, in floods all these a...

"La Mode"

OK, so I go to France and know nothing about anything.
I am totally open to almost everything.  From the very start,
in floods all these amazing things,  ideas and concepts.
Take fashion for instance.  The French call it "La Mode."

What is "La Mode?"  Is it what is "in fashion."
Or is it?  Most French are oblivious to "fashion."
They say that "La Mode" is a fickle master and
mostly for rich people who have a need to keep up
with the latest styles.  Is it another way the French sell
us on fluff?

But there is "La Mode."  And the real "mode" is
a personal psychology of how to present oneself.
It's what you feel comfortable wearing.  It's what
goes with what you are doing.  It is a way to be.

So why do the French, especially women, have such
great style?  Doesn't that cost a lot of money?
Not exactly!  French women have very few items of
clothing, but what they do have is very high quality.
It generally lasts for many years.
So they have maybe two black dresses that can go
with anything and for any occasion.  The clothes look good,
and they could even be Designer.  The point is that
"La Mode" is not about quantity.  It is about quality and a personal
statement of style no matter when the clothes were bought.

Ultimately, fashion or "La Mode" is up to you.
But that doesn't mean that people don't have to have
the latest styles, because that is what keeps the
logos and the trademarks and the hype in fashion.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Billy Cone: MOOSE

Billy Cone: MOOSE: So here I was in the heart of Great Britain on an apple orchard with Robert Boucher and Kyle Poole.  Robert grew up there and Kyle was vis...

MOOSE

So here I was in the heart of Great Britain on an apple orchard
with Robert Boucher and Kyle Poole.  Robert grew up there and
Kyle was visiting just like me.  We happen to be in the kitchen
where I got nosey and began looking in the fridge.  Now, since
arriving in England I noticed that the locals eat some bizarre kinds
of food like kidney pie, spotted dick, and other grotesque organ meats.
Well,when I opened the door to the ice box I spotted something that
was red like a beet on a plate.  It was rounded and looked like a heart.  I gagged and
cringed.  I immediately asked Robert what that substance happened to be
and he said, "Oh that's Moose Billy."  My fears were warranted I thought
to myself.  Gross!!!  So I asked, "What part?"  And he smiled and
replied, "That's strawberry mousse Billy!"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Billy Cone: French Marketing

Billy Cone: French Marketing: It is called "Le Marketing." The French seem to do it best. They sell you without even trying. Take Paris for example.  Paris i...

French Marketing

It is called "Le Marketing."
The French seem to do it best.
They sell you without even trying.
Take Paris for example.  Paris is the #1
tourist city in the world.  France is the #1
tourist country in the world.  That is
what I am talking about.

And how about air.  The French sell more
bubbles of air than any country in the world.
You got it!  Champagne!  And what about
water?  The French sell more mineral water
than any other country.  Air and water?
Isn't that a bunch of fluff?  Not exactly!
It is "Le Marketing."

And then what about all those perfumes,
soaps, facial creams, body lotions,
bidets, and the list goes on and on.

Luxury must have got its start in France too.
It's selling high quality goods for ten times
what they are worth.  Someone has to pay
for all "Le Marketing."  So is it fluff?
Is it air?  Is it water?

Let's just say, it's all of the above.

Billy Cone: Euros and Language Barriers

Billy Cone: Euros and Language Barriers: If the euro is not keeping you from visiting France then maybe it is the language barrier?  So many of my friends avoid France due to this...

Euros and Language Barriers

If the euro is not keeping you from visiting France then
maybe it is the language barrier?  So many of my friends avoid
France due to this idea that they need to speak the language.
This used to be true.

Today France is rolling with the punches linguistically.
Like Germany and Holland, France is requiring English
as a second language in schools.  The youth of Gaul is
making great efforts to learn English.  It used to be
that when tourists would go outside of Paris they would
be "on their own" with French.  Now its not just Parisians
who speak English.  In the provinces(anywhere outside of
La Capitale) more and more people accommodate Yanks.

So is it true that French hate Americans?  And is it true that
they like us more if we speak French?  Well, to the first question,
the answer is no.  The French really like us.  They love so much
about America, as we love so much about France.  The French
can seem standoffish to Americans because this is their normal
disposition.  They are that way to everyone Chinese to African.

Most French love to practice their English skills.  So if you
encounter English speaking French people they will most
likely love talking with you.  If, on the other hand, you meet
those that do not speak English you will probably feel
like they are being rude when this happens wherever one goes
in the world, no just in France.

Open up your horizons to include France if this "barrier" was
your consternation.  Times have changed.  The fastest train
in the world awaits you.  The Chunnel will take you there from
London.  The largest passenger jet(Airbus A380) will glide you
to Charles De Gaulle airport.  And if French technology is not
your bag then wait till you wake up each morning to still warm
"elastic inside" croissants that go so well fruit jams
with French Roast Coffee.  The sky's the limit even
if you don't speak French!  Vive l' Anglais!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Billy Cone: The Meeting With Cecile, The Artiste

Billy Cone: The Meeting With Cecile, The Artiste: Well I was in Nantes and kept seeing posters of a blue Van Goghesque interior.  Finally I stopped, noted the address and headed over to the...

The Meeting With Cecile, The Artiste

Well I was in Nantes and kept seeing posters of a blue Van Goghesque interior.  Finally
I stopped, noted the address and headed over to the IBM Building to see what was
going on.  I had no trouble getting in and into the gallery.  I looked around at the
amazing works on the walls.  After about three minutes in walked an attractive young
lady who proceeded to ask me if I was there to interview her.  She was there for that
purpose, but I was there for the art.  So I asked if it was for sale.  She said I could come
back in two days for the "vernissage" or opening.  Only problem was that I had to catch
a train the next day.  Pas de probleme!

In that case can I purchase a painting?  By the way, I'm Billy.  Je suis Cecile
Veilhan Duchene.  We shook hands.  I turned to the wall and pointed and said
I'll take that one, that one and that one.  Cecile almost fell to the ground.  It was her
very first art show.  The show hadn't even begun.  She just sold three acrylics.  Wow!!!

We made our way to a bank so I could get some Francs, and when we got to her
house we opened a bottle of Champagne.  This was a celebration.  I had acquired
three brilliantly colored acrylics resembling Van Gogh's work, and she got a surprise
jumpstart on a very fruitful career as a painter.  She has sold out of works in most of
her shows ever since and exposes in Paris.  Her next place to expose is the USA.
You are welcome Cecile!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Billy Cone: Saint-Tropez in January, 1994

Billy Cone: Saint-Tropez in January, 1994: Sophie and Anne-Marie lived in the same family's home as I did. They were nursing students in Vichy.  I saw them once in a while but n...

Saint-Tropez in January, 1994

Sophie and Anne-Marie lived in the same family's home as I did.
They were nursing students in Vichy.  I saw them once in a
while but never really got to know them until Christmas
Break.  Sophie asked me if I wanted to visit Saint-Tropez.
Of course I said yes.  It was an 8 hour drive due to the fact
that there were no Autoroutes between Auvergne and the Midi--
the South of France.

Saint-tropez is beautiful even in winter.
In fact, I later discovered that without many tourists this place
is truly gorgeous.  The water is bluish green all around and the
dwellings are mostly stone and plaster, rooftops orange tile.
A tall bell tower, orange and yellow stands high on a hill above
the village and cannot be mistaken.  A marina is the home of
many boats, both pleasure and fishing.  In the mornings we explored
and had hearty lunches of croque monsieurs(grilled ham and cheese
sandwiches with b├ęchamel sauce).

Even in January the temperature got up to at least 70 degrees and we
all sat on a dock in the low arcing sunlight.  My biggest discovery besides
the place was the breakfasts.  Each day we had toasted country
bread, unpasteurized butter and arbouse jam which I still have not found to this day,
almost 30 years later.  Bon appetite!!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Billy Cone: Your Line-----------------------------------------...

Billy Cone: Your Line-----------------------------------------...: How high do you raise the bar?  As Joe said, "what is your line which you aspire to for excellence in life?"  We all have a line....

Your Line---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How high do you raise the bar?  As Joe said, "what is your line which you
aspire to for excellence in life?"  We all have a line.  What is your's?
Is it high enough?  Is it too high?  Does it motivate you?  Is your line
reachable?  Have you given up?  Do you need to remember your line
and set it again?  Joe is Chinese, born in India and came to America to
set his line.  He has certainly reached it in my opinion, but I am sure
he wants to do a lot more with his life.  Joe is highly motivated with
three children and a wife, a restaurant and catering.  Remember your
line and where you put it and if you need to raise the bar.  And give
yourself credit for getting this far in the game.  Sometimes waking up
is all we can do.  I understand that.

Billy Cone: Little Known Facts About French Wine

Billy Cone: Little Known Facts About French Wine: First of all France has 17 distinct wine-producing growning regions.  The region of Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest and is located in t...

Little Known Facts About French Wine

First of all France has 17 distinct wine-producing growning regions.  The region of
Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest and is located in the southwestern portion going to
the coast.  In 2001, this region produced more wine than all of the United States put
together.  France itself is only the size of Texas.  At present France is producing between
6 and 7 billion bottles of wine per year.

Vouvray is an interesting study.  This wine is found near Tour in the Loire Valley or
La Touraine.  It can sometimes be sparkling, and when it is it is used to celebrate.
Vouvray is older than the oldest Champagne.  France is the third largest producer of wine
in the world behind Spain and Italy, must be something in the soil and the weather and
the people?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Billy Cone: CAVILAM--Centre Audiovisuel Internationale Des Lan...

Billy Cone: CAVILAM--Centre Audiovisuel Internationale Des Lan...: So I left Chapel Hill with a BS in Business Administration in the summer of '82 greeted by the worst job market in over 22 years.  Seven...

CAVILAM--Centre Audiovisuel Internationale Des Langues Modernes

So I left Chapel Hill with a BS in Business Administration in the summer of '82 greeted by the worst job market in over 22 years.  Seven months later I secured a job with an industrial air cleaning equipment company--SANTEK, traded on the NYSE.  After two years of learning the ropes of marketing a white elephant my friend Tom Benjamin told me he was going off to France for a year to kill time before he entered Law School and did I want to go too?  YES!!!  I figured this company didn't have much longer before its demise, so I spent a glorious weekend in Paris before descending down to the very heart of France in Auvergne to a town called Vichy, known for its EAU.  Oh!  H2O!  I tried it and its very minerally if that is a word.

My French family's home was a mile from school, so each day I would walk to and fro twice a day, once for the morning classes and once for the afternoon ones after lunch.  Anny Planck was the epitome of Stevie Nicks.  Wow!  She was a great teacher with a great sense of humor and beautiful.
Rudolph was a stomach doctor from Russia.  We did everything we could to communicate since I was the first American he had ever seen, and he was the first Russian I had ever met.  With our rudimentary
French skills we had the whole class on the edge of their seats at one moment and laughing the next.
There were classmates from Syria, Eygypt, Lebanon, Iran and northern Europe.  Class was intense.
There were walls, walls between nations and walls counter to this foreign tongue.  You kind of felt them coming down over the three month period, but they remained.  We all seemed to have them, except maybe Anny.  She did not project herself onto anyone.

By three in the afternoon my brain would be fried after putting it in a French blender.  The walks did me good.  I'll never forget stopping each day for a "pallet d'or"(patties of rich dark chocolate filled with ganache cream and with a fleck of real gold on top of the half inch thick disk).  That was just what the doctor ordered.  I would savor this along the way and then pass out for two hours before dinner.  Dinner/meals were interesting chez les Detruits.  That will be my next blog.  It was an AWAKENING!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Billy Cone: The Great BMW Heist

Billy Cone: The Great BMW Heist: I vowed never to take my brand new car to Paris due to all the car heists there.  But my friends were counting on me to drive them to the C...

The Great BMW Heist

I vowed never to take my brand new car to Paris due to all the car heists there.  But my friends
were counting on me to drive them to the Capitale for Spring Break, and I just let that old
thought go down the drain.  It was time to have fun, live it up in Paris.

The weekend was extraordinary and I dropped my friends off in Vichy, knowing that I would be
there again to pick Phil up to return to the City of Light the following Friday.  Well, when we
got to Paris late at night in Ville Juif I parked to car but was not at ease.  The apartment building's
garage was closed, and we could not get entry.  Phil said it would be fine where it was, ie., outside
of the gate.  The next morning there was a bit of water and bits of glass where a blue BMW
once was parked.  Every material thing that was important to me in France was gone--my passport,
my money, my presents, my bottles of wine, my photos of the times in Vichy and the Alps,
my clothes and most importantly, my journal that recorded everything I had done since landing
at Charles De Gaulle 10 months ago.  This was a setback to say the least.  The only thing that kept
me sane was my job at Fauchon.

I wallowed in self pity for a while, like 12 years.  But then this misfortune became a motivation.
From that time forward I would photography and keep a journal of everything wherever I traveled.
And low and behold I published two photo journals of my summer trips to France.  Suite
revenge over the malfaiteurs way back then.  Sixty Days Under The Influence--A Photo Journal Through France and Photos de Voyage & A Gourmet's Journal were published in the 90's
and are still available for purchase.  Amazon.com or billycone.com.

So no matter how bad it gets I believe we can turn even the worst into a positive.  Sure it may
take time, but our vision improves with time.

Have a great day!!!

Billy

Friday, December 6, 2013

Billy Cone: Living In France '83-'84OK, so how did Philiippe...

Billy Cone: Living In France '83-'84

OK, so how did Philiippe...
: Living In France '83-'84 OK, so how did Philiippe and I get jobs at FAUCHON in Paris? Well, I was working at a Patisserie...
Living In France '83-'84


OK, so how did Philiippe and I get jobs at FAUCHON in Paris?

Well, I was working at a Patisserie called P. Baechler in Grenoble every morning before
school(I was studying art  history, French culture, and French), and each day I would
arise at 4:30 and drive from the home of my French family to the bakery.  There, we 
would proof croissants, brush beaten eggs on to plump delicious brioche, and prepare
fruit tartes for the eager customers.  

Philippe and I decided to drive my German sled to Paris for a long Spring Break weekend.
I drove to Vichy and picked him up at the Celestins(City of Water).  We had a great time
at the Pub Saint-Germain and Le Procope(the oldest cafe in the world where coffee was
introduced).  Both are still there.  So, Phil just had to show me something.  We made our
way to the Place de la Madeleine and an amazing window display of viennoiseries(pastries
that got their name from Vienna).  Inside there were exotic fruits that are hand picked for
each customer.  I was impressed.  You name it. they have it.  Serrano hams, foie gras of duck
and goose, smoked salmon from Ireland and so on and so forth.  Unreal!

Phil told me about "stages" which are short term internships in France.  I said, "let's do a
"stage" here."  So we went to see the secretary of Fauchon.  When we asked about a
"stage" she said, "ask him!"  Chef Bertrand was right behind her.  He asked us where we
worked at this time.  I told him P. Baechler.  "C'est pas vrai."  It turns out that the head of
all the laboratory patissier, Chef Bertrand, had his first job with Monsieur Baechler in
Grenoble.  No lie!  "When can you start?"  And the rest is history.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Billy Cone: Greetings From the Deep South!In 1994 I was on S...

Billy Cone: Greetings From the Deep South!

In 1994 I was on S...
: Greetings From the Deep South! In 1994 I was on Spring Break from the University of Grenoble in the heart of the Alps. I dared to take my...
Greetings From the Deep South!

In 1994 I was on Spring Break from the University of Grenoble in the heart of the Alps.
I dared to take my new German sled to Paris AGAIN.  With a false sense of security I
must have parked in the wrong place, because it was stollen with all my photo equipment,
photographs from a year in France and essentially everything except my toothbrush and
contact lenses.  Oh well!

The good thing was that one week earlier me and Philippe TRUONG secured jobs at the
famous FAUCHON in the Place de la Madeleine in Paris.  Fauchon was the first deluxe
gourmet grocery store in the world and is so today.  Their products can be found in airports
even in Asia.  So each day Philippe and I would leave the empty flat(there was no furniture
or beds, just a hot plate for tea), and head for the Metro taking us to La Gare Saint-Lazare
where we would walk the rest of the way to Place de la Madeleine and Fauchon.

Phil made fruits deguises or disguised fruits which were exotic cherries and other fruits
dipped in molten sugar to create a hard glossy finish to the fruit.  I, however, began making
the dough for 200 croissants, spreading on the butter, folding the "pate" over the layers of
butter and rolling the cut triangles from the wide side to the point of the triangle.  This was
my first exposure to food as art.  We let them rest.  We proofed them.  We brushed
beaten eggs over them.  We cooked them.  And by noon we packaged them gingerly
to send by air to Quatar for a business meeting.  1500 of them!  The rest we placed in
the patisserie storefront for eager shoppers.

This was the life.  Or at least it was better than worrying about the car.  In four days the
police found the car a bit dented up and totally empty.  Zut alors!!!  So from that day on
for two months the car was in the French garage waiting on parts from German factories
that were on strike.  Oh well!

OK. Back to Fauchon.  Each day at 1:00 the patissiers(pastry chefs) and Phil and I would
climb the stairs to a room where we would be fed and four course meal and all the
patisseries abimees(broken) like my car.  Ooooh, I could not get that sled out of my mind.
It was a communal lunch, and we felt special being there with those talented pastry chefs.

Long story short, the day before my flight home the French garage gave me permission to
drive the car "as it was" to the drop off for the ship.  I drove around the famous 12 street
roundabout that circles the Arc de Triomphe.  Wow!!!  Now that is perilous.  Since then
I've done it plenty of times, always holding my breath and driving like a "fou."

By the way, the car was received at the port by the manufacturer "as it was," and they
thought it was vandalized in transit.  So with the insurance coverage they repaired it
just like new, never ever knowing that it was stollen in Paris.

Whew!!!

Have a great day!!!

Billy

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Le Luxe--Quality of life versus Quantity

Dear Readers,

Since 1981 I have been over the pond to France more than 40 times.  Twice I lived in Paris
in rented flats for a year at a time.  17, Rue Etienne Marcel was near Les Halles and the
Metro.  66, Rue de la Montagne Saint-Genevieve was near the Sorbonne and the Pantheon.
In fact, the chauffeur driven Rolls Royce that picked up Owen Wilson each night in "Midnight
in Paris" stopped in front of my flat at the top of that hill coming up from rue des Ecoles
and Saint-Germain.

What I have learned about the arts and cuisine and most importantly lifestyle is that
we in America are encouraged to live a long life,  work most of it, vacation rarely and feel
guilty about it, constantly ask for forgiveness worried about the afterlife, and eat
poorly due to the poor farming methods and the valued minerals and ingredients taken
from foods through pasteurization and the addition of preservatives.  Unfortunately,
America just doesn't know how to enjoy life like the Europeans, the French in particular.

In France they do not use preservatives with the exception of the natural ones of sugar and
salt.  Foods are not pasteurized in general unless they are to be exported to countries like
the United States.  Cheeses in France are so amazingly flavorful, and there are about a
thousand different varieties from every corner of the Hexagon(France's name because of its
geographic shape on the map).  Dairy products taste like they did when I was a kid, like
milk, like cream, like BUTTER, like yogurt and so on.  When was the last time you actually
tasted dairy?  Our dairy products have all the nutrition boiled out of them before reaching
the table.  Sad!  But true.  And what we import from abroad has to be pasteurized as well,
so don't expect to taste the same cheeses or butters you had in Ireland and the rest of
Europe.

I will continue on this topic of lifestyle and living a quality life as each blog comes forth.
Until then, have a wonderful day or night!!!

All The Best,

Billy

DREAM BIG!!!

Greetings from the Deep South!

So my blog is about the culinary arts, travel, art, artists and whatever I need to tell you at that
particular moment.  Today I just want to mention a newsletter that Francophiles would be
interested in.  Oh, what's a Francophile?  Someone who adores all things French.  A
Francophone is someone who speaks French.  I am both.  My dream is to live in France,
spending a lot of time in the City of Light and visiting nearby Provence regularly.  DREAM
BIG!!!  Otherwise your life will probably be a long series of small dreams that are
disconnected.  I want to be connected and DREAM BIG.  So, the site to google is
Chocolate and Zucchini.  It will be worth your time, especially if you are going to Paris
anytime soon or want to DREAM about it...

ALL THE BEST,

Billy