Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Culinary integration

In France, there have long been rival views of the nation. According to one, the only real French are descendants of the Gauls, or at least white Catholics whose itty bitty bits of Italian heritage don't reveal themselves in a last name. For the other, if you're French above all else identity-wise, if you shun the headscarf, hyphenated identities, and so on, you're in. The latter view is not liberal by American standards, but that is (or at least has been, unless it's changed recently?) where people stand who are more left than right.

In a speech that has a prominent role in the chapter I'm working on, Ernest Renan explains that the Jews of France are, in fact, at least a good number of them, descendants of the Gauls. Not bloody likely, I thought when reading this, but an understandable argument to make at a time (the 1880s) when racial anti-Semitism was just taking hold, when the first of the two views, which would really solidify during the Dreyfus Affair, was stepping into its own. 

Of course, if French Jews are not part of the original terre and sang of Western Europe, what was all of this matzo doing in the 'traditional rustic crackers and cookies' section of the Carrefour?

1 comment:

Maria B. said...

(re)bienvenue à Paris, Phoebe! C'est vrai qu'il y a plein de matzo partout, il me semble qu'ils le mangent tartiné de boursin et quelques crudités (concombre, radis..)uniquement, je n'ai jamais trouvé de la soupe matzo ball, par exemple. Aussi beaucoup des matzo vendus ne sont pas cacher, ce qui serait inimaginable côté US! Aussi, une chose qui pourrait vous intéresser dans le cadre de vos recherches franco-juives: le synagogue Kehilat Gesher à Saint Germain en Laye. C'est la seule synagogue que je connais où l'on parle à la fois français, hébreu, et ivrit. Le plus c'est que la communauté est sympa et assez ouverte à l'opposé de la plupart des synagogues ici qui sont soit conservadoxe soit orthdoxe et n'apprécient nullement les curieux. Erev tov