Bastille Day France cautiously celebrates clouded by virus
Celebrate Bastille Day with ratatouille recipe for famous French … Wed, 14 Jul 2021 06:00:00 -0700-PARIS (AP) — Bastille Day is back, sort of. France celebrated its national holiday Wednesday with thousands of troops marching in a Paris parade, warplanes …
PARIS (AP) — Bastille Day is back, sort of.
France celebrated its national holiday Wednesday with thousands of troops marching in a Paris parade, warplanes roaring overhead and traditional parties around the country, after last year’s events were scaled back because of virus fears.
This year those fears are still lurking, but the government decided to go ahead with the parade on the Champs-Elysees anyway, as part of a broader effort to return to pre-pandemic activity.
The number of onlookers was limited, and they were restricted to a small section of the parade. In addition, each person attending had to show a special pass proving they have been fully vaccinated, had recently recovered from the virus or a had negative virus test. Similar restrictions will be in place for those gathering to watch an elaborate fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday evening.
Spectators converged on Paris from around France, glad to be able to see the show in person even if frustrated with the restrictions and long lines for virus security checks.
“I came especially for my son who is marching today,” said Gaelle Henry from the northern city of Lille. “It’s nice to be able to get out a little bit and finally get some fresh air and think that all the people are here, and that we are getting back to normal a little bit.”
Masks were ubiquitous among the smaller-than-usual crowds along the avenue, and de rigueur for the dignitaries watching the show under a red-white-and-blue awning emulating the French flag. The marching soldiers were unmasked — the French military said they have all been fully vaccinated or freshly tested for the virus.
Some cheers rose up as President Emmanuel Macron rode atop a military reconnaissance vehicle along the cobblestoned Champs-Elysees, past restaurants, luxury boutiques and movie theaters that were shuttered for much of the pandemic. The clatter of hundreds of horseshoes accompanied military music as uniformed guards on horseback escorted the president.
Organizers of this year's event dubbed it an “optimistic Bastille Day” aimed at “winning the future” and “celebrating a France standing together behind the tricolor (flag) to emerge from the pandemic.” While that optimism was widely felt in France a few weeks ago, clouds have returned to the national mood as the delta variant fuels new infections and prompted Macron to announce new vaccine rules this week.
Leading the parade were members of a French-driven European force fighting extremists in Mali and the surrounding Sahel region. Macron announced last week that France is pulling at least 2,000 troops from the region because of evolving threats, and focusing more efforts on the multi-national Takuba force instead.
Among others honored at the parade were military medics who have shuttled vaccines to France’s overseas territories, treated virus patients or otherwise helped fight the pandemic.
A total of 73 warplanes, medical helicopters and other aircraft traversed the skies over the Paris region.
“This moment of conviviality, of reunion, on the eve of our National Day, is first and foremost for us the opportunity to address our brothers in arms and their families, and give them a message of gratitude,” Macron said in a speech to the French military on Tuesday.
Last year’s parade was canceled and replaced by a static ceremony honoring health care workers who died fighting COVID-19.
France has lost more than 111,000 lives to the pandemic, and the government is pushing hard to get more people vaccinated to fight resurgent infections driven by the delta variant.
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison in eastern Paris on July 14, 1789, commemorated as the birth of the French Revolution.
Patrick Hermansen contributed to this report.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
France cautiously celebrates Bastille Day, clouded by virus Wed, 14 Jul 2021 06:00:00 -0700-Colorful, earthy, delicious ratatouille is the perfect choice to honor Bastille Day, the French Independence celebration of fireworks and feasting.
Special to the News Journal
“Ratatouille” is a funny word, staccato and dull pronounced in English — rat-a-too-ee. It takes on quite different imagery when pronounced in French — ra-ta-tooo-yuh, sounding more melodic and delicious. And so it is.
This simple dish was made famous by the movie “Ratatouille,” in which a struggling young chef is finally reviewed by harsh food critic Anton Ego. Reminded of his mother’s cooking, Ego is so inspired by petite rodent chef Remy’s ratatouille that he is declared “the finest chef in France!” And so, today, as we honor Bastille Day — the French Independence celebration of fireworks and feasting — the colorful, earthy, delicious ratatouille is the perfect choice.
This French Provencal mélange of sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and fresh herbs fills the entire house with a sumptuous fragrance. Mais oui, pair this side-dish with grilled grouper or trigger fish and wash this down with a crisp, cool glass of Chablis … Vive La France!
Originally classically prepared as a ragout, this vegetable stew was allowed to cook so long that it became soft and creamy, lacking texture and color. In the Nouvelle style, a quick sauté of each of the vegetables separately maintains their distinct tastes and textures. And with a final mixing or layering, the dish is robust and visually exciting. Now abundant and seasonal, the ingredients are fresh and locally available. Equally delicious hot or cold, with seafood, lamb or beef, La Ratatouille Nicoise is a French classic.
Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!
More Cooking School:Asian noodles make delicious comfort food
Prepare the onions, peppers and spices
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
Using a large sauté pan, cook the onions, pepper and seasonings in olive oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Prepare the zucchini
- 3 small zucchini (1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Using a zester on the zucchini, remove strips of peel lengthwise, forming a striped pattern. Slice into ¼-inch round pieces. Using the same sauté pan (unwashed), cook the zucchini slices, seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil for 3 minutes. Turn them once. Transfer to the large bowl.
Prepare the eggplant
- 1 small eggplant (1 pound)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and fresh pepper
Slice the eggplant into eighths. Slice each section into strips 1-inch long and ¼-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Using the same pan, cook the strips in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add them to the large bowl.
Prepare the tomatoes and garlic
- 8 Campari tomatoes, quartered and rough chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and fresh pepper
Using the same pan, cook the seasoned tomatoes and garlic in olive oil until thick, about 4 minutes. Add to the large bowl.
Mix all vegetables together well. Correct the seasoning as necessary. Transfer to an oven-proof dish. Heat for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
Enjoy hot or cold. Serves 8.
Celia Casey is a columnist for the News Journal. She is a graduate of the Paris Cordon Bleu and teaches classes in French cuisine. Cuisine Française 850-525-6720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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– July 14, 2021
Bastille Day 2021