Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 "Protests and turmoil"

Château in the Haute Côte (west and up from Chambolle)

MAI 2016

The month of May has certainly been a mixed bag of "stuff".

I had noted that there was a freeze at the end of April. Damage is extensive, some vignerons may need to sell out, crops totally destroyed( some also lost to hail last year). Final damage has not been estimated. South of Gevrey, Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny were hit very hard. Only time will tell.

We had our Photo Club expo the 6th, 7th and 8th of May. I did not win, but then again that is not my only reason to be in the club.  I like the club and have had fun taking photos.
Setting up the expo in the Caveau de Gevrey

One of my photos -Château -Gevrey

As usual, we had our pizza party after the vernisage (opening). Aperitfs all good, salads and other good bites to taste, pizza, cheese course, and dessert. And with all this, some very good wines! So many of you have had a 4 course pizza dinner with Grand Cru wine?

As for weather, it has really been the pits!! We had to have fires in the wood stove several nights as the damp cold nights penetrated the house. It has rained the majority of the days this month, leaving floods all over the country in its wake. Not many walks, mostly due to weather. The few nice days, the temperature has gone from 55° to 80°. Bizarre!

But the first part of May, I did go for a walk above Chambolle. 
Globularia vulgaris

Orchis pourpre

Now, on to my discourse about the current mood of France. I do not know what information you have in the US. 
All the strikes, protests, and riots have been over the new work laws. Hollande (president) and Valls (prime minister) decided to change work laws. They reason that these changes will bring down the high unemployment. 

And the method used to change the law has stirred lots of controversy? 
I will try to give it a simple explanation. The new law or regulations would not, in all probability, pass due to the opposition. So a little used method of law was pulled out, shaken out and used. 
Valls called for a vote of confidence. If the vote was YES, the law passed, if the vote was NO (no confidence), the government would disband and the law would not pass.
 But the catch here is that those voting YES or NO would loose their jobs with a no vote. That is, if the government disbands, all positions would be up for a new election.  See the catch?
 With so much controversy over government in general the last few years (Hollande is not popular), what was the chance to be re-elected? So some who had opposed the law, voted YES to save their jobs. This did not go over real well!!! Pas du tout.

OK, now that is has passed, what are the changes, and why are the french up in arms over the new law?
The government has had laws in place to protect the worker. The new law changes this. Keep in mind that the current government is socialist (on paper at least!).

Some major points:

  •  France passed a 35 hour work week in 2000 . It had been 40 week. Businesses can now negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours. So a worker goes from 35 hours to 46, and no overtime for the 11 additional hours of work each week. WOW, what a deal is that?

  • The 35 hour week is part of the french life now, and very hard to take away a benefit.  Salaries have been closely regulated by the government. Now businesses are given greater freedom to reduce pay. This is to "help" a company in time of downturn in the economy. ( yah, right !!)

  • The new law eases conditions for laying off workers, which is strongly regulated in France. It is thought that companies could layoff at a time of downturn. Question is, do the older get laid off, and the younger (less expensive) employees are hired? 

  •  France employees have 5 weeks’ vacation, minimum, plus holidays..NOW. New law, employers would get more leeway to negotiate holidays. (do you think they would give them more holidays?) 

  •  Also, special leave, such as maternity leave could be changed. These leaves have always been heavily regulated. 

The result has been protests, demonstrations, and riots this month. The oil refiners have been blocked, so there is a shortage of gas at the stations. The nuclear plant employees were also on strike, so electricity was threatened (it was diminished last week – a slight brown out). Transport has also been hit with strikes; trains and metro. And is is to continue.

Majority of the people do not support the changes (poll taken said 67% are against the new law), and the only voice that they have right now, is to protest. Unfortunately, some of the protest have gone violent.

The law was not voted in through traditional channels, so there were no discussions, or compromises or the possibility of rejection.

France is hosting the EURO, the football games in June and July. There is the threat that all these strikes may effect the games!

Hollande has said he will not back down. Valls said that maybe some points could be discussed.

Stay tuned. There is more to come, I can assure you that.

Recipe of the Month
Pizza (next month I will have a french recipe)
I have not spent a lot of time in the kitchen this month. I might get new counter tops by the end of June, and no idea when the back-splash will be put in. They have to measure for that after the counter top is installed! OK. The kitchen is not the easiest place to cook a meal. So I have done quick and easy meals lately.
But pizza is always a good and quick dinner (yes Italian and not a french recipe). I can buy a nice pre-made crust, so that makes it extra easy. I have and do make my own crust sometimes. It is better.
This is an easy version, but be creative. I just saw a recipe for gorgonzola, chicken and  peaches. Just check the internet and the ideas are endless. I have learned that the simple pizza is sometimes the best.


  • ·       3 Tomatoes ( roma are good because they have more pulp)
  • ·       Chorizo, sliced
  • ·       Sauce ( your favorite or homemade)
  • ·       Mozzarella cheese
  • ·       Pizza dough (if so inclined:  recipe for homemade dough by Jamie Oliver below)
PPhoto is a free photo off the internet, not my pizza


  1. .        Preheat the oven (I have used our gas grill sometimes too)
  2. .         I always bake the crust for 5-10 minutes before I add ingredients. You do need to watch carefully and puncture the dough bubbles with a fork
  3. .         Slice the tomatoes thin. I put them on a paper towel to absorb some of the juice. Other times if the tomatoes are real juicy, I bake in a low oven for about 30 minutes to dry. Juicy fresh tomatoes will make a mess on a pizza.
  4. .         Remove dough from oven. If you have used a pizza setting (heat from the bottom only) or had it on the grill, flip over so the cooked side is now up.
  5. .         Add sauce, tomatoes, chorizo and cheese.
  6. .         Bake another 15 minutes

PIZZA DOUGH  by Jamie Oliver
·       7 cups strong white bread flour or Tipo "00" flour or 5 cups strong white bread flour or Tipo "00" flour, plus 2 cups finely ground semolina flour
·       1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
·       2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dried yeast
·       1 tablespoon raw sugar
·       4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
·       2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
This is a fantastic, reliable, everyday pizza dough, which can also be used to make bread. It's best made with Italian Tipo "00" flour, which is finer ground than normal flour, and it will give your dough an incredible super-smooth texture. Look for it in Italian markets and good supermarkets. If using white bread flour instead, make sure it's a strong one ( hard flour) that's high in gluten, as this will transform into a lovely, elastic dough, which is what you want. Mix in some semolina flour for a bit of color and flavor if you like.
1.       Sift the flours and salt onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
2.       In a large measuring cup, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
3.       Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands.
4.       Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
5.       Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it.
6.       Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.
7.       Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands - this is called punching down the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straightaway, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas - this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas.

Timing-wise, it's a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don't roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though - if you are working in advance like this it's better to leave your dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there's 1 less thing to do when your guests are round, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 1/4-inch thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted aluminum foil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with plastic wrap, and pop them into the refrigerator.

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