Jacques Brel

One of the most notorious Belgian singers of all time has to be Jacques Brel. Even a half century later, his songs and talent are still recognized across the world.

Personally, I am not sure what is more enchanting about him: his talent for poetic music or his eccentric performances. Shamefully, I hardly speak any French (even though I studied it for three years in high school), so I think that it was his performance that first drew me in. His voice is so dramatic that it tells a story unlike any singer I have ever heard. His somewhat awkward movements and gestures only add to his initial charm.

I could go on for hours explaining every single one of his songs, bit instead I’ll just focus on my favorite: Les Bourgeois. (i’ll just post the link here because it will not embed properly)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCHi5apc1lQ

Literally speaking, Les Bourgeois is about three friends going out one night to have a good time drinking and such. Around midnight, the Bourgeois (implied here as established men) pass by from their hotel. As the pass by, the three boys mock them by mooning them and comparing them to pigs. By the end of the song, it is assumed that Brel is describing how the three friends have now become the bourgeois.

Although the story of the song has little meaning or impact on me (is that horrible to say?), it is still one of my absolute favorites. The theatrical element that it is sung with is unbelievable.

In addition to being a phenomenal singer, Brel was also an actor. Unfortunately, Brel passed away in 1978 at the age of 49. It is refreshing to see the honorable and honest life that he lived, and it is assuring to know that such a remarkable man is still remembered today.

-C

Sources:

http://www.trouveztout.org/Jacques-Brel/

http://www.alinasadventuresinhomemaking.com/2007/12/serge-gainsbour.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCHi5apc1lQ

http://www.last.fm/music/Jacques+Brel/+images/34470003

http://www.geekdemusique.com/jacques-brel-jef-un-classique/

Euro Sandwiches and Cucumber Wraps

Always the connoisseur of easy and quick, I thought I might provide you with another tasty treat after Sunday’s Chicken Soup. This time, for a light, fast, and economical lunch idea that even the kids will love, I’m going to introduce you to the world of open face sandwiches and cucumber wraps. Prepare to be amazed!

Tartine Open Faced Sandwich

Open faced sandwiches, appropriately nicknamed Euro Sandwiches, are a great way to show off your culinary sophistication in under 6 minutes. I’m going to walk you through the steps to making amazing Euro sandwiches that will leave both your guests and your family asking for more – more – more! Restaurants such as Le Pain Quotidienne sell these on large white plates; you can go casual or formal just by choosing your cutlery.

Firstly, the secret is always good bread. Find a tasty, crunchy-soft ciabatta, reliable French baguette, locally baked loaf, or sour rye. Use Parmesan toast (butter and Parmesan cheese, shredded, then toasted in a broiler) or cherry-hazelnut bread for a more exotic and sophisticated palette.

Secondly, spread the bread with some sort of condiment. Mayonnaise, guacamole, butter, jam, or salsa can all be used based on the nature of your open faced sandwich. Savoury or sweet, don’t be afraid to try sour cherry jam under turkey.

Open Faced Sandwich  But that’s not even all! Next, you’ll want to add some sort of meat. Cold cuts that you use for double-faced sandwiches will do. Turkey and ham are staples that most people will enjoy, and this is a great way to use old chicken.

And then, toppings! A thin slice of cheese, diced tomatoes, cut avocadoes, sliced cucumbers, apple thins, pepper strips, roasted pine fruits, pecans, and even sprouts and chick peas are all acceptable ideas. Match up a dijon with avocado and taste the interesting combination. Or perhaps try hazelnuts with that cherry-turkey combo I suggested.

From there, it’s whatever you make of it! For a more breakfasty style, go with a fluffy white bread (always use one with a stiff crust, since it will need to support the toppings without the help of the upper bread piece Americans are so accustomed to having), a jam with nuts and sour green apples. A dollop of Nutella, anyone?

To accompany your tasty Euro sandwiches, throw together some Cucumber wraps. These simple little vegetable groups can be made of the same ingredients used in your sandwiches, and are perfect for appetizers or colourful sides. Start out by chopping off a large (4-5 inch) slab of cucumber and then cutting it very thinly along the grain, so that you get a stripe of seeds.
Cucumber WrapsNext, fill these thin strips with pieces of vegetables (perhaps even meats!), such as strips of pepper, as demonstrated, avocado, pine fruits, apples, mangoes, more cucumber, sprouts… Add a dollop of peanut butter with a few raisins for picky, confused eaters.

If you’re having trouble getting them to stay in rolled-up form, try removing a few items and then sticking them through with a toothpick. They should stay for a while, and throwing one on a large plate next to a stylish open faced Euro sandwich makes you look like you’ve got the French bistro style down pat! If you used a jam, water it down a bit and spiral a large white plate with the new raspberry sauce, then put your minimalist, light, easy lunch down and amaze your friends! Serve with a cappucino or other beverage.

-A.

Photos Courtesy of: