Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inauguration of the Academy of Culinary Art for the Creole World

On the morning of June 20, 2015, the headquarters for the Académie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole (Academy of Culinary Art for the Creole World) was officially inaugurated at 94, rue Vitruve in the upper 20th arrondissement.

The Academy's overriding purpose is to promote Creole art, culture, and gastronomy in France and throughout the world.

Banner - Académie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole
© Discover Paris!

A brief ceremony began with words by President Georges (Joby) Garnier and General Secretary Nicole Etienne,

Nicole Etienne and Georges (Joby) Garnier
© Discover Paris!

who spoke of several goals set forth for the organization, including:

  • the creation of a marketing label "Le Monde Créole" (The Creole World)
  • the foundation of a cooking school specializing in Creole cuisine
  • the recognition of Creole gastronomy as a distinct entity by UNESCO and the general French public.

They were followed by Antoine Prudent, President of the Observatoire Nationale Des Originaires d’Outre-mer (ONDOM)*,

Antoine Prudent
© Discover Paris!

and Minister of Overseas Territories George Pau-Langevin,

Minister George Pau-Langevin
© Discover Paris!

who voiced their support for the agenda established by the Academy.

Other notable figures in attendance were Fanélie Carrey-Conte, Deputy of the 20th arrondissement; Hamou Bouakkaz, Counselor of the 20th arrondissement; and Jean-Claude Cadenet, Director of LADOM : L’Agence de l’Outre-mer pour la Mobilité (Agency for Overseas Mobility - an organization that assists citizens in the overseas territories to travel between their homeland and France).

From left to right:
Antoine Prudent, George Pau-Langevin, Georges Garnier,
Fanélie Carrey-Conte, Hamou Bouakkaz, and Jean-Claude Cadenet
© Discover Paris!

Attendees then filed out of the building to witness the unveiling of the official plaque that is mounted on the wall adjacent to the entrance of the Academy.

Attendees exiting building for unveiling of plaque
© Discover Paris!

Official Plaque - Académie de l'Art Culinaire du Monde Créole
© Discover Paris!

Immediately thereafter, they returned to the offices to enjoy a reception featuring a wide selection of delectable hors d'oeuvres and beverages that showcased Creole recipes and products.

Christophènes (chayotte) and country ham
© Discover Paris!

Bouchées de la Reine - lambi (conch) et chatrou (octopus)
© Discover Paris!

Rhum arrangé by Rhum & Sens
© Discover Paris!

Freshly pressed cane juice
© Discover Paris!

The caterer for the affair, Stéphanie Aubriel, was recommended to the Academy by Outremer Business Expansion (OBE), and attendees were particularly appreciative of her talents. Christian Jarrin of OBE represented the organization at the event and helped Aubriel prepare the table for serving.

Stéphanie Aubriel and Christian Jarrin
© Discover Paris!

If the success of the first award ceremony to celebrate the best of Creole cuisine in the Francophone world in 2014 and the expansion of scope planned for this year's award ceremony are any indication, the future of the Academy is bright!

Trophées de l’Art Culinaire Créole award

*The Academy partners with ONDOM, an organization whose mission is to raise awareness of and fight discrimination against citizens of France's overseas territories.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bessie Coleman Honored in France

Ninety-four years ago, Bessie Coleman was granted her international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in Le Crotoy, France. She was the first woman of African descent to earn a pilot's license.

Bessie Coleman - photo used for her aviation license
Public domain

Because she was unable to obtain the training she sought in the United States, Coleman traveled to France on November 20, 1920 with the hope of enrolling in an aviation school that was located near Paris. However, she was refused entry due to the recent deaths of two female student pilots. Undaunted, she continued her search and found an aviation school in the Picardy region of France that accepted her application.

According to biographer Doris L. Rich (Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator, 1995), the school that accepted Coleman was France's most famous flight school — École d’Aviation des Frères Caudron. It was managed by French aviators and plane designers Gaston and René Caudron.

Coleman spent the next seven months in training at this pilot's school, learning to fly in a French Nieuport Type 82. She was granted her license on June 15, 1921.

With her new credentials in hand, she returned to Paris and spent two months honing her skills under the tutelage of a French flying ace before returning to the United States in September 1921. Rich says that there is no record of her stay in the City of Light. However, she notes that Coleman:

... certainly shopped, for she brought home a stunning wardrobe including dresses, and tailored flying suit, and a leather coat.

Bessie Coleman (1922)
Public domain

Coleman quickly realized that she needed more training to earn her living as a stunt pilot in the U. S., so she returned to Europe in February 1922. She spent two months training in France before setting off for the Netherlands and Germany. In the Netherlands she met aircraft designer Anthony Fokker and in Germany she visited the Fokker Corporation, where she undertook additional training.

Bessie Coleman and a plane (1922)
Public domain

She then returned to the United States, where she pursued a career as an aerobatic flyer. She died in a flying accident in Jacksonville, Florida in 1926.

Coleman's feats have not gone unrecognized in France. French writer Jacques Béal wrote her biography, L'Ange Noir (The Black Angel) in 2008

L'ange noir book cover

and a novel devoted to her time in Picardy called Les Ailes Noires (Black Wings) in 2011.

Les ailes noires book cover

Two French cities have a street bearing Coleman’s name. One is Poitiers in central France. The other is Paris, which has recently given her name to a street in the 20th arrondissement.

Map indicating rue Bessie Coleman in the 20th arrondissement

Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas in 1892.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Homage to Félix Eboué (1884-1944)

The French non-profit association CIMACDOM - (Comité International pour la mémoire des anciens combattants d'Outre-Mer, or International Committee for the Remembrance of Overseas Veterans) - and the DGOM (Délégation Générale de l'Outre-Mer - General Overseas Delegation) - hosted an evening honoring Félix Eboué in the auditorium at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris (Paris' City Hall) on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Hôtel de Ville
© Discover Paris!

CIMACDOM's mission is to "commemorate, promote, and safeguard the memory of our former overseas veterans."

CIMACDOM mission statement
© Discover Paris!

Félix Adolphe Éboué (26 December 1884 – 17 March 1944) was a Black French Guianan-born colonial administrator and Free French leader. He was the first black French man appointed to high posts in the French colonies (Governor of Guadeloupe in 1936, Governor of Chad in 1939, Governor of French Equatorial Africa in 1940). Humanist and Franc-Mason, he was the first person to respond to General Charles de Gaulle's rallying call for the support of Free France. Cameroon and Congo would follow his lead.

Eboué is the first black to have his remains placed at the Pantheon in Paris; his ashes were transferred there in 1949.

Félix Eboué
Photo by Discover Paris!; from the screening of Félix Eboué, le Visionnaire

The evening was hosted by Isabelle Gratien, founder/president of CIMACDOM and grand-niece of Félix Eboué.

Isabelle Gratien
© Discover Paris!

The main feature of the evening was a screening of the documentary film, Félix Eboué le Visionnaire (Félix Eboué, the Visionary), which was produced by Barcha Bauer. Monsieur Bauer addressed the audience just before the screening to explain why he is so passionate about preserving the memory and promoting the legacy of Félix Eboué.

Title frame of Félix Eboué, le visionnaire
Photo by Discover Paris!; from the screening of Félix Eboué, le Visionnaire

Barcha Bauer
© Discover Paris!

The other speakers on the program were:

  • Olivier Stirn, former Minister of Overseas Territories and Minister of Tourism, who spoke of the relationship between Eboué and General Charles de Gaulle
  • Christine Levisse-Touzé, historian and director of the Jean Moulin museum and the Memorial for Marshall Leclerc de Hautecloque and the Liberation of Paris, who spoke of how Eboué's wife, Eugénie Eboué-Tell and his children participated in the French Resistance
  • François Broche, journalist and historian, who spoke of the enormous importance of Eboué's activities and policies in the support of Free France during World War II
  • Henri Hazaël-Massieux, historian and former civil administrator of the Defense Ministry, who recalled numerous, little-discussed implications of Eboué's service

The speeches were followed by poetry recited by Isabelle Gratien; Joèl Conte, president of Europoésie; and Felicien Jerent, general secretary of CIMACDOM.

The floor was then opened for a Q&A session with the audience.

The evening ended with refreshments - including five kinds of home-made rum punch!

Refreshments are served!
© Discover Paris!

For information about CIMACDOM (in French), click HERE.


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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Madame Lillian Evanti - African-American Opera Singer in 1920s Paris

In reading Tracy D. Sharpley-Whiting's recently released publication, Bricktop's Paris, I've whetted my appetite for information about the many African-American women who contributed to "Black Paris" during the early 20th century.  One of the brief, but rich and little-known stories that Sharpley-Whiting shares in this book is that of Lillian Evans-Tibbs, aka Madame Evanti.

American operatic soprano Lillian Evanti (1880-1967) in France in 1926
Photo source: Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Evanti's given name was Annie Wilson Lillian Evans.  Born in Washington, D. C. in 1890, she studied music at Howard University and married her professor, Roy W. Tibbs, after her graduation in 1917. She traveled to Paris in 1924 and studied opera under the French operatic soprano, Gabrielle Ritter-Ciampi.  Evanti won the starring role in Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé, which she performed in Nice in 1925 and recreated in Paris at the Trianon theater in 1927.

Cover for Lakmé, Opéra en trois actes

While in Paris, Evanti spent considerable time with three other African-American women, artist Laura Wheeler*, writer Jessie Fauset*, and artist Helen Wheatland.  Evanti, Wheeler, and Wheatland sailed to France together on the SS Homeric, leaving New York on June 21, 1924.  They lodged at the Hôtel Jeanne d'Arc, located at 59, rue Vaneau in the upscale 7th arrondissement.  The following spring, Wheeler would help Evanti design the costume that Evanti wore for her performances in Lakmé. (To see a photo of Evanti, presumably dressed as Lakmé, click here.)

It was Fauset that came up with the stage name "Evanti." She joined Evanti, Wheeler, and Wheatland at a party where Evanti brought up the subject of changing her name to something more "euphonious-sounding." She wrote down a contraction of her maiden name, "Evans," and her married name, "Tibbs," and came up with "Tivani." Fauset suggested "Evanti" instead. Evanti liked this name better and used it from that moment on.

Part of a quote cited by Sharpley-Whiting reveals Evanti's sentiments about what being in France did for her career:

Thank you La Belle France for my debut in Grand Opera. France offered Libert[é], Equalit[é], Fraternit[é] . . . . I was free!

For more information about Lillian Evanti, click here.

* Sharpley-Whiting presents the stories of Wheeler and Fauset in Bricktop's Paris as well.


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