Recently by Amy Serafin:

   

When Denmark realized a few years ago that it had an oyster invasion, it turned the problem into a tourism opportunity, inciting people to gather up the pests and eat them. It wasn’t too difficult: Danes and oyster-eating go way back, at least to the Stone Age, as evidenced by ancient heaps of discarded shells called kjökkenmödding. In 1587, King Frederick II made oyster fishing a royal monopoly — those who broke the law three times risked the death penalty.

For most of their history, Danes ate the Ostrea edulis, a flat species indigenous to Europe that also goes by the name Belon (though this appellation is normally reserved for those that come from an estuary in France). But overfishing, pollution and disease have driven the flat oyster nearly to extinction, so the Pacific oyster, or… More…

 

 

When the McCain campaign labeled Barack Obama a socialist, it was one of the worst slurs they could think of. But here in France, socialists are banal. Hell, we’ve got more than a million communists — Marxists, Trotskyists, anarchists, even Bolsheviks.

French far leftists of all stripes have been in a flurry of activity in recent months, even though the next important elections are still three years off. One reason is that President Sarkozy serves as a perfect catalyst for radical rage. There’s also the meltdown of the financial system, seen by many here as the end of the free market system as we know it. And finally, the Socialist Party itself has been self-destructing, plagued by overinflated egos and endless infighting. The most recent embarrassment came during the election of a party secretary last November, with… More…

 

 

From Toll House cookies to key lime pie, baked goods are among the foods Americans do best. And yet there’s still something stomachache-inducing about the thought of devouring a hefty slice of pecan turtle cheesecake at the end of a three-course French meal. So I was surprised to read in a French magazine that a New York pastry chef, Alison Johnson, had crossed the Atlantic to work at the one-star restaurant Jean. It seemed to me that hiring an American pastry chef in Paris was like recruiting Australians to fight bulls in Madrid.

“Taillev-…uh, Jean,” answered Jean-Frédéric Guidoni when I called the restaurant to find out more. He had worked 20 years (mostly as first maître d’hôtel) at one of the world’s great restaurants, Taillevent, before striking off on his own and buying Jean nearly seven years ago. I… More…

 

 

If you were to go looking for evidence of France’s huge North African population, you’d find it in the grim public housing projects of the suburban cités, in the gritty peripheral neighborhoods of Paris, and near my home in the relatively privileged 5th arrondissement, where the Great Mosque draws enormous crowds on Fridays and during Ramadan. You would be hard pressed, however, to find many North Africans in the corridors of French business or political power, where they are close to invisible.

And yet, for the last year and a half, a woman of Moroccan-Algerian descent has become famous as one of the most influential and glamorous figures in France. Rachida Dati is the minister of justice, and until recently one of President Sarkozy’s closest confidants. She is a self-made success story who radiates chutzpah, for lack… More…

 

 

Last Saturday morning my family slept in. The Saturday before as well. And the Saturday before that. This fact might sound banal — especially since by “sleeping in” I mean we got up at 8 a.m. But for me and other parents with grade school-aged children throughout France, it was practically revolutionary. As far back as anyone can remember, French kids have had classes on Saturday mornings — if not every weekend, then every other week. And now, rushing to get the kids out the door on a day one might normally consider part of the weekend is a thing of the past.

I grew up in Western New York, and recall learning in Madame Keller’s high school French class that in the faraway country where people spoke an unpronounceable language and ate smelly cheese, kids had… More…