Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebrating Creole Cuisine

This year's Fête de la Gastronomie (Gastronomy Festival) will include three days of celebration of Creole cuisine.

L'Académie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole (Academy of Culinary Art for the Creole World) was created to promote Creole cuisine in France. Because this cuisine is considered part of French gastronomy, it is protected by UNESCO as part of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage. Yet it has its own history and culinary traditions to promote and respect.

Banner for L'Académie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole

One of the Academy's missions is to ensure a standard of quality in Creole cooking that inspires the confidence of the general public. It has created a charter, a log, and a label through which it intends to sensitize consumers to the presence of products in the marketplace that are certified Creole and that respect ancestral culinary traditions.

The Academy has participated in the Fête de la Gastronomie since the festival's inception in 2012. It is partnering with the, a start-up company that specializes in recruitment for the hospitality sector, to create online media buzz for Kréole en Fête (Celebrating Créole) - the Academy's contribution to the 2014 festivities. This initiative allows restaurants to enhance their visibility by vigorously promoting their most appetizing recipes during the festival. It will take place on September 26, 27, and 28.

Bouchons saucisses from La Charrette Créole chez Sylvain
© Discover Paris!

Georges Garnier*, alias Joby, is president of the Academy. interviewed him at Academy headquarters - 94, rue Vitruve, Paris 20e - as part of the promotion. Garnier presented the organization, what constitutes Créole food, and where it comes from. He explained that Créole cuisine is not limited to the French Antilles, but rather includes cuisine from the entire Caribbean as well as islands in the Indian Ocean.

Garnier also talked about some of the Academy's projects, including what's in store for the public during the Fête. Several Créole restaurants will take up the challenge of creating an entrée (first course), plat principal (main dish), and / or a dessert in conjunction with the theme "herbs and spices." The chef must use authentic Créole ingredients to honor and promote the local suppliers of these products as well as take special care regarding the ambiance of the restaurant and the presentation of the dish.

The winning menu will be published in the ACMC magazine, the first edition of which was published in February 2014. Click on the caption beneath the image of the cover below to see its contents.

Cover of ACMC Magazine - Premier edition (February 2014)

Fourteen restaurants in Paris and neighboring towns will participate in the Fête:

La Canne à Sucre
6 bis, rue Etex
Paris (75018)
01 42 26 51 28

La Charrette Créole chez Sylvain
15, rue Chaplain
Paris (75006)
01 43 26 03 10

Ilet Créole
14, rue Mercœur
Paris (75011)
01 71 70 64 66

Caffé Créole
62, boulevard Beaumarchais
Paris (75011)
01 55 28 50 76

Restaurant Le Payenké
8, rue Paul Henri Grauwin
Paris (75012)

Douceurs Métissees
148, avenue du Maine
Paris (75014)
06 31 19 50 11

Spécialités Antillaises Ménilmontant chez Max
14-16, rue boulevard de Belleville
Paris (75020)
01 43 58 31 30

La Créoline
5, Villa Léonard De Vinci
Épinay-sous-Sénart (91860)
06 19 05 94 77

La Bloggeuse du Rhum
116, rue Maurice Arnoux
Montrouge (92120)
07 50 40 24 18

Sandrine Cuisine Façon Créole
61/63, avenue du 14 Juillet
Bondy (93140)
06 13 05 34 72

Bwe & Manje
18, rue Jean-Jaurès
Bondy (93140)
06 27 76 61 49

DouDou Kreol
183, rue Paul Vaillant Couturier
Alfortville (94140)
01 56 20 33 38

Plézi Karayib
3, rue Henri Sellier
Villeneuve-Saint-Georges (94190)
01 83 76 03 60

Bette Kreyol
1, rue du Docteur Calmette
Limeil-Brévannes (94450)
07 78 32 22 92

Kréole en Fête culminates with a free event that is open to the general public on Sunday, September 28, in Paris. It will take place at the Salon Olympe de Gourges, 15, rue Merlin in the 11th arrondissement. Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM.

Find the Academy on Facebook here: l'Academie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole

*Garnier is also the director of the annual Carnaval Tropical, which has been organized in Paris since 2001.


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

20th Anniversary Celebration of UNESCO Slave Route Project

On 10 September 2014, UNESCO celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage.

A full day of discussion, musical interludes, and commemoration took place at La Maison de l'UNESCO, 125 avenue de Suffren, in Paris' 7th arrondissement. Highlights included a roundtable at which UNESCO’s contribution to the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) was discussed and the inauguration of the exhibition "Africans in India: from Slaves to Generals and Rulers."

Africans in India
© Discover Paris!

French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, author of the 2001 law that recognizes slavery as a crime against humanity, spoke at the closing event of the day:

The challenge today is to understand the globalization that divides people to better exploit. This globalization can be replaced by universality, one in which we meet the Other, so that the Other is not seen as a good to be sold.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira
Screenshot from YouTube video

The United States Permanent Delegation to UNESCO sponsored the evening reception. The new U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, Crystal Nix-Hines, delivered a passionate speech about the lessons to be learned from the practices of slavery in past centuries and reminded us that modern-day slavery (human trafficking and forced labor) is just as atrocious a scourge in society today.

Ambassador Crystal Nix-Hines addresses the crowd
© Discover Paris!

Ambassador Nix-Hines' husband, David Hines, then sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

David Hines
© Discover Paris!

Finally UNESCO Artist for Peace and spokesman for the Slave Route Project, Marcus Miller, regaled the audience with numerous artists who joined him on stage for an incredible jam session that lasted far longer than anyone anticipated.

Marcus Miller
© Discover Paris!

Jam session
© Discover Paris!

View clips of the day's activities here:

Among the achievements cited by UNESCO for the Slave Route Project is the Permanent Memorial to Honor the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations building in New York.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Black Writers at Festival AMERICA

Festival AMERICA is an event that features the literature and culture of North America. It is held in Vincennes, an eastern suburb of Paris, once every two years.

This year, several black writers from the United States, Haïti, and Canada will sit on numerous panels to discuss their publications.


The French translation of long-time Paris resident Jake Lamar's book, Postérité (English-language title: Posthumous), was released by Rivages on September 10, 2014. Jake received the prestigious Centre National du Livre award for this book. The English-language version has not yet been released.

Photo of Jake Lamar © Giles Plazy - Opale - Éditions Payot Rivages
Collage © Discover Paris!

Because Jake has participated in the festival multiple times, I asked him to comment on the event. He said the following:

This is my fourth invitation to Festival AMERICA since 2004. I’ve participated in lots of book festivals, all over France, and Festival America, in my experience, is maybe the best of them all. The list of writers is always very diverse. The organizers clearly put a lot of thought into the grouping of writers in different panel discussions. And the public is always very engaged and enthusiastic.

Philadelphian Ayana Mathis' first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was released in French under the title (Les Douze Tribus d'Hattie) by Gallmeister in January 2014. It is a New York Times Bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year 2013.

Photo of Ayana Mathis © Elena Seibert
Collage © Discover Paris!

Jesmyn Ward is a former Stegner fellow at Stanford and Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her novels, Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, are both set on the Mississippi coast where she grew up. The French translation of Where the Line Bleeds was released in French under the title Ligne de Fracture in May 2014.

Photo of Jesmyn Ward © Tony Cook
Collage © Discover Paris!


Port-au-Prince native Dominique Batraville studied in Belgium and France before returning to Haïti in the aftermath of the fall of the Duvalier regime. His first novel, L’Ange de charbon, will be featured at the festival.

Photo of Dominique Batraville from Festival AMERICA Web site
Collage © Discover Paris!

Louis-Philippe Dalembert received the RFO book prize for his novel, L’autre face de la mer, in 1999. He will discuss his most recent novel, Ballade d’un amour inachevé, at the festival this year.

Photo of Louis-Philippe Dalembert © Stephane Haskell
Collage © Discover Paris!

Henry Kénol is a prolific writer of novels, poems, and essays. His novel, Le désespoir des anges, is "inspired" by the armed gangs that ruled the streets of Haïti's cities during the 2000s.

Photo of Henry Kénol from Festival AMERICA Web site
Collage © Discover Paris!

Journalist, screen writer, and essayist, Dany Laferrière now spends most of his time in Montreal, Canada. He describes his book, L'Art presque perdu de rien faire, as "an autobiography of my ideas." Laferrière is the first black since Léopold Sédar Senghor to be elected to the Académie Française.

Photo of Dany Laferrière © Jf Paga Grasset
Collage © Discover Paris!

Yanick Lahens is a professor of literature as well as a novelist, essayist, and documentary filmmaker. She was awarded the title of Officer of Arts and Letters by the Ambassador of France in Haiti this year. Her latest book, Bain de lune, tells a story of passion, voodoo, and politics.

Photo of Yanick Lahens from Festival AMERICA Web site
Collage © Discover Paris!

Anthony Phelps' Nomade, je fus de très vieille mémoire is a personal anthology of poems written between 1961 and 2011. Phelps was a political prisoner of the Duvalier regime. Forced to leave the country after his release, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada. He has written over twenty books (short stories, novels, essays, and poems) that have been translated into seven languages.

Photo of Anthony Phelps © Setkafilms
Collage © Discover Paris!


Ryad Assani-Razaki was born in Cotonou, Benin in 1981. After studying computer science in the United States, he settled in Montreal. He now works as a computer scientist in Toronto. His first collection of short stories was awarded the Trillium in 2007. La Main d'Imam, the novel that is featured at the festival, received the Robert-Cliche prize in 2011.

Photo of Ryad Assani-Razaki © Fatou Binetou Kone
Collage © Discover Paris!

The 7th edition of Festival AMERICA will take place from September 11 through September 14. A youth festival, several photographic expositions, and films and concerts will complement the literary events at the festival.

The primary venue is the Centre Culturel Georges Pompidou, 142 rue de Fontenay, 94300 Vincennes. Several events will take place in additional sites nearby.

For more information, visit the official Festival AMERICA Web site (text in French).


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Black Paris Profiles™ II: Elizabeth Milovidov - Part 2

Last week, I presented Part 1 of this Black Paris Profile™ on Elizabeth Milovidov - an attorney whose passion is protecting the rights of children around the world.

Today, I bring you Part 2 of Elizabeth's profile, which features details of her professional activities in Paris, Brussels, and the European Union at large.


Elizabeth Milovidov
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Milovidov

When Elizabeth moved to Paris, she had already completed a BA in Economics / International Area Studies at UCLA, an MA in Political Science at UC Davis, and a JD at UC Davis. Her decision to pursue yet another two degrees (MBA and MA in International Trade at European University) was a strategic decision that allowed her to obtain a French visa. Because she has always loved school and the academic environment, this was not burdensome.

The MBA opened several career options for her:

While completing my MBA / MA, I went to the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris and ordered the listings of all the American companies doing business in France. I sent out over 700 resumes. Yes, you read correctly – seven hundred. And I received more than 690 rejection and “we’ll keep your resume on file” letters. But the French subsidiary of one American company, Rockwell Automotive, decided to give me chance. I was hired in October 1997 as Administration Manager in the Paris office, with European responsibility. It was a chance in a lifetime, but I do believe the underlying reason why I was hired was because I was an attorney who was seeking new challenges.

But 5 degrees still were not enough!  She decided to pursue a PhD in International Relations and Diplomacy - in English - at American Graduate School: International Relations in Paris.

When my last position as General Counsel in a French company in the South of France transferred the headquarters to the United States, I knew that I wanted to stay in France. I was newly married and realized that my business and legal skills were more marketable in Paris, so my husband and I moved back to Paris. Once I was laid-off from the company, I enrolled in the PhD program and began my Parisian job search. Within a year of completing my course work, I was offered another position in a French company in Paris as General Counsel – Operations. I then juggled my job, arrival of two sons and completing my thesis – which also explains why it took me so long.

While her law degree proved invaluable by opening doors and providing credibility that her other degrees did not, and her MBA provided a business angle to her legal background, Elizabeth's PhD allowed her to establish herself as a professor in France and teach at several universities. Because her dissertation on International Child Rights was on a subject related to International Law, she is able to teach at top caliber French law schools.

The degree took six years to complete: one year of coursework followed by five years of research and writing. The research and writing was done in spurts and flurries, but by 2011, she had a 4-year old, a 2-year old, and a completed and defended doctoral dissertation. While her French is fluent, she says she had more polished professional French when she was working in French companies. As a child rights consultant and law professor, most of her days are now spent speaking in English.

The combination of her PhD and her JD landed her a position at the University of Geneva this summer, where she taught Child Rights Law and Internet Safety.

Elizabeth became passionate about children's rights in 2003, when she married and began thinking about having a family. She wasn’t quite sure what direction to take, but she kept reading and researching and learning. In 2005, when she started her PhD program, it was clear that she wanted to do my dissertation project on children’s rights.

She began to focus on Internet safety for children when she realized that she loves the law, children, and the Internet and technology. The last two companies that she worked for in France were high-tech Internet companies, so it was easy to combine her interests. Still, it took her 3 years to focus exclusively on Internet safety.

She founded Crossing Guard Consulting because she wanted to work in this burgeoning field that was also her passion. What better way to work on exactly what she wanted to do than to create her own company?

It was a real challenge for Elizabeth to create a digital identity - The Crossing Guard: protecting children on the digital highway - and then become that persona. She used a blog, Facebook and Twitter to help with her outreach. She finds it enriching to see people "liking" something she shared and writing in to request help.

Now she is focused on writing free eBooks to empower parents in the digital age:

So many parents are frustrated and scared of technology, but my purpose is to tell them: "You’ve got this. Use your offline parenting skills online. Don’t panic,  Parent!"  Even with all of this new technology and ever changing social media challenges, parents can do it.

Crossing Guard Consulting is a small, global organization through which Elizabeth is currently providing child rights and internet safety consulting services to the European Commission. She has projects pending with the Council of Europe and the UK. She also guest blogs for Family Online Safety Institute (US) and the OECD while maintaining close contacts with some of the leaders in Internet safety in the US and in Europe. She has staff contributing from the United States and France.

As Facebook and target the African market for new clients, Elizabeth anticipates that Crossing Guard Consulting will become active in Africa. She says there is an even greater need to protect children in Africa and that her organization can easily do so with all the lessons learned in the past 10 years.

Elizabeth has already had the pleasure and privilege of utilizing her considerable skills and experience in Africa through the US State Department. Stephanie Bombrun (creator of the successful blog "La Mom"), who is a good friend and who is also very committed women’s empowerment, counseled Elizabeth on social media practices and is a true believer in the Crossing Guard. When she learned that Elizabeth was speaking at the American Library of Paris and at French schools on Children’s Rights and Internet Safety, she introduced Elizabeth to Sara Devlin, director of Africa Regional Services (ARS). Devlin immediately proposed some speaking engagements and video series for Elizabeth.

Stephanie Bombrun (left), Elizabeth Milovidov (center), and Sara Devlin (right) at Africa Regional Services
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Milovidov

ARS is working under President Obama’s initiative to improve human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights in Africa. Enter the Crossing Guard.

In July, ARS sponsored a trip to Senegal where Elizabeth led two 2-day training session / workshops on Gender, Leadership and Women's Empowerment. These were co-sponsored by the US Embassy and an association of women professors. The first was held in St. Louis (former capital of Senegal when it was a French colony) and the second was in Dakar, the current capital.

Panel discussion at U. S. Embassy event in Dakar, Senegal
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Milovidov

Elizabeth described this as:

... an awesome experience bringing together women professionals from academia, medicine, law and more, but I think I was the one who reaped the most benefits as I noted that women in France, in the US, in Senegal all juggle the same issues: how to create a satisfying balance between family, work and social activities.

Elizabeth still belongs to the California and DC bars. She says there are hundreds of American attorneys in Paris: some practicing law "in-house" at law firms, others in companies, and still others are teaching. She says it's important to note that American attorneys cannot litigate in France unless they take the French bar.

For US and other non-French attorneys who would like to live and work in Paris, Elizabeth has the following advice:

Learn French. Understand the cultural norms. Take the Paris or Versailles Bar. Work in an international law firm in your own country that has offices in France. Attend conferences in Paris. Create your network – used LinkedIn. Create a social media profile that demonstrates your desire to come to France or work internationally. Have a strong support system. Be patient.

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