“In Paris but Dreaming of Food from Elsewhere” by Anna Soo-Hoo

//“In Paris but Dreaming of Food from Elsewhere” by Anna Soo-Hoo

“In Paris but Dreaming of Food from Elsewhere” by Anna Soo-Hoo

Preferring a type of food other than French is not all that unthinkable, even if one does happen to dine regularly with Louis XIV, as can be seen in the writings of his sister-in-law Charlotte-Elisabeth (1652-1722).  In a letter dated May 3, 1721 to her half-sister the Raugravine Louise, after almost fifty years of having had access to the French court’s cuisine, Charlotte-Elisabeth longs for some German food: “Je suis toute Allemande pour ce qui regarde le boire et le manger, et je l’ai été toute ma vie.  On ne peut pas faire ici de bonnes fritures ; le lait et le beurre ne sont pas aussi bons que chez nous ; ils n’ont pas de saveur et sont comme de l’eau ; les choux ne sont pas bons non plus, car la terre n’est pas grasse, mais légère et sablonneuse, de sorte que les légumes n’ont pas de force, et que le bétail ne peut donner de bon lait.  Mon Dieu ! que je voudrais pouvoir manger les plats que vous fait votre cuisinière ! ils seraient plus de mon goût que tout ce que m’apprête mon maître d’hôtel.”




In a 2007 interview for the journal Callaloo (vol. 30, no. 1), the writer Gisèle Pineau says that as a child in Paris she would add Creole spices to French food as a way to bring herself closer to Guadeloupe (328).




When the jazz musician Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) performed in Paris, he would go to the restaurant Haynes & Gabby’s for red beans and rice, a dish from his childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Red beans and rice remained a favorite for the rest of his life.  Haynes & Gabby’s is considered to be the first soul food restaurant in Paris, opened in 1949 by Leroy Haynes (an American soldier at the time) and his French wife Gabrielle Lecarbonnier.  The restaurant closed in 2009.




Portrait de Ch. E. de Bavière, Duchesse d’Orléans, Madame, à cheval, se dirigeant vers la droite : [estampe]. 1722. Bibliothèque nationale de France. http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb41506759h.




Haynes and Gabby’s menu, 1949-2009. New York Public Library, Schomburg Menu Collection.





References & Suggested Reading



Jarenwattananon, Patrick. “Red Beans and Ricely Yours: The Culinary Habits of Louis Armstrong.” National Public Radio, A Blog Supreme, 4 August 2011, https://www.npr.org/sections/ablogsupreme/2011/08/04/138991954/red-beans-and-ricely-yours-the-culinary-habits-of-louis-armstrong . Accessed March 2018.


Loichot, Valérie and Pineau, Gisèle. “ ‘Devoured by Writing’: An Interview with Gisèle Pineau.” Callaloo, vol. 30, no. 1, 2007, pp. 328-337. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/cal.2007.0152


Orléans, Charlotte-Elisabeth, duchesse d’, 1652-1722. Correspondance complète de Madame duchesse d’Orléans née Princesse Palatine, mère du régent, traduction entièrement nouvelle par M.G. Brunet, accompagnée d’une annotation historique, biographique et littéraire du traducteur, Tome second. Paris: Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1891.


– – – . Life and Letters of Charlotte Elizabeth: Princess Palatine and Mother of Philippe d’Orléans, Regent of France, 1652-1722, Compiled, Translated, and Gathered from Various Published and Unpublished Sources, Comprising the Archives of the French Foreign Office, the Archives of the House of France, and the Manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. London: Chapman and Hall, 1889.


Segura, Jean. “Chez Haynes : 60 ans d’un Américain à Paris.” Rue des collectionneurs, March 2009, http://www.ruedescollectionneurs.com/magazine/mag/haynes.php . Accessed March 2018.


– – – . “Gabby Oh Gabby ! Dans l’ombre de Leroy Haynes.” Rue des collectionneurs, 4 June 2011, http://www.ruedescollectionneurs.com/magazine/mag/gabby.php . Accessed March 2018.




By | 2018-07-30T14:19:01+00:00 March 31st, 2018|Food Blog|Comments Off on “In Paris but Dreaming of Food from Elsewhere” by Anna Soo-Hoo