Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My trip to France and the story of the Holliday girls and the Billion Pies.

Hi, its Frances again.

I went to France in September.  I was once again awed by the beautiful way that the French are able to display their food.  Simple foods are given special touches.  Other foods are just "over the top" to start with.    We had lunch with some of Fritz's friends at Le Mozart Cafe in Mulhouse, France.  
This is in the Alsace Lorraine region, very near Switzerland.

 A raspberry tart shone like a light.  In the case there were macarons, and elegant pies festooned with Creme Chantilly, (or call it Whipped Cream if you speak Texan like I do.) 

Our lunch was a simple quiche surrounded by greens and with three glass cubes serving beets, shredded carrots and shredded radish.  

 For the more adventurous, there was pate with balsamic syrup and date paste that evening.  There was also Baked Alaska but we at it too fast to take time to draw it.


 The Story of the Holliday Girls and the Billion Pies

Back home in the USA,  I think of Thanksgiving as we get closer to the date.  My sisters and I always enjoyed making pies for Thanksgiving.  Lots of pies.  We did not worry about their being too many, we just wanted to make lots.  We tried to stick to traditional  types, so you were likely to find pumpkin, apple, mince, blueberry, cherry, pecan and sometimes apricot.  Our kitchen was a bee hive of workers.  By the time Harriet was 10 and I was 20, we were a pretty good work force.  My mother had enough sense to stay out of the way as her 
five daughters plowed ahead, rolling crusts, filling pans, stirring fillings and peeling fruit.  
I should mention that we had one brother, younger than the rest of us.  He is as completely 
capable of making a fine pie as well and we were happy to have him join us.

We used fresh ingredients for our pies.  Well, assuming canned pumpkin is a fresh ingredient, we did.  We peeled apples, heated and stirred dried apricots, Picked pecans from our own yard,  used fresh blueberries when available and even made our own mincemeat a time or two.  The spices were important.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cardamon made the whole experience satisying.  

Two summers ago, we had our Quilt Alliance Board meeting in Grafton, Vermont, where I now live.  I served fresh apple and blueberry pies all weekend.  I made about twenty.  I am slower than those Holliday girls.  I spent a couple of weeks doing it, freezing until the day came for baking them.  It wasn't as many as in the old days, but it followed the tradition.

If you need more spice, put a little mustard on it.                                                Or KIMCHEE!


  1. You are such a wonderful artist! I'm a fan of France-anything real and up close- but your drawings even top all that in this post! Yummy-recipe too! Glad you had such a great time too!

  2. Oh Frances, I am hungry for pies now! I have been to Mulhouse -- the French National Automobile is there. Not only does it have a wonderful collection of cars which we took my gearhead father to see, but the collection has a great story of corporate greed and karma too. When I consider autumn spice I go immediately to your pie spices, but you are so clever to remind us about savory spices like mustard and kimchee too! Maybe it's time for bi bim bap for lunch. ;-)

  3. Beautiful sketches and I love the pie stories too! We loved France too and I loved the pastery shops but they wouldn't let us photograph so sketching was the only way to capture the beauty!

  4. I have been to Le Mozart Cafe. There in one on the upper west side of NYC as well and it is also very good. I, too, was very impressed with the simplicity and beauty of French cooking. They rely on excellent ingredients and elegant approach to cooking and baking. My own approach in the kitchen (and elsewhere) changed a lot after my visit to France in 1998. Loved your story and sketches. Thank you.

  5. Love the France story! I'm headed there again to teach in June, and plan on many a forray into the bakeries! Thanks for reminding me it could be a sketching field trip!!!


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