Did coffee kill Balzac?Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac reminds us that on August 18, 1850, the French writer Honoré de Balzac died at the age of 51. His death has been attributed to heavy coffee drinking, each day twenty to forty cups of strong Turkish coffee. For a quotation from Balzac describing how coffee fueled his literary imagination, see here.
Wine drinking culture in France (book)Marion Demossier, Wine Drinking Culture in France: A National Myth or a Modern Passion? (University of Wales Press, 2010).
End of the alcohol monopoly in colonial Vietnam (article)
Selling wine in Burgundy between the world wars (article)
Philip Whalen, "'Insofar as the Ruby Wine Seduces Them': Cultural Strategies for Selling Wine in Inter-War Burgundy," Contemporary European History 18/1 (2009): 67-98.
Wine adulteration in 19th-cent. France (article)
Alessandro Stanziani, "Information, Quality and Legal Rules: Wine Adulteration in Nineteenth-Century France," Business History 51/2 (2009): 268-291.
Chocolate rebel: Le Chocolaterie de Jacques GeninThe most fashionable artisan chocolate maker in France today is Jacques Genin. The Wall Street Journal tells his story here. A sidebar to the article briefly describes Belgian chocolate makers Pierre Marolini, Wittamer, and Mary Chocolatier Confissur, Swiss chocolate maker Confiserie Sprüngli, and British chocolate maker Auer Chocolatier. By the way, when chocolate arrived in France around 1615, ordinary people were not allowed to consume the "food of the gods."
La Cave de Josephine (or the Empress Josephine's Cellar), an exhibitionBefore the French Revolution the elite drank white wines, mostly sweet, and wines from Burgundy and Champagne. The wines from Bordeaux were popular only with the British (as claret). The carefully documented wine cellar of the Empress Josephine illustrates the change in the early 1800s when French wine drinkers began to enjoy Bordeaux. For more about the traveling exhibition based on her wine cellar, see here. This is an article by John Lichfield in the (London) Independent, Dec. 10, 2009.
Drug Use and Addiction in War
Tom Langdale wrote this short article, dated July 9, 2009, for High 5 Men's Magazine.
Le sandwich versus French cafe (with wine and espresso)
The new French habit of eating a sandwich at lunch (sometimes at one's desk) is another blow at the French cafe and a slow-paced lunch there, complete with wine and espresso. Compared with a half million cafes fifty years ago, France now has only 38,600. For more, see here.
Desperate Parisians pawn expensive wines
During the current economic crisis desperate Parisians have resorted to pawnshops. For instance, wine collectors pawn bottles of superior wines for needed cash. For more, see here.