All posts tagged: culture

Take a Tour of The Gigantic, Secretive Market Where France’s Top Chefs Buy Their Food — Matter

The best food in France comes from a single place — but hardly anyone knows it (and now it could be toast). It’s pitch-black out and we’re telling the cab driver to hurry. The moonlight draws a path in front of us as we glide through Paris at 4:30 a.m. We’re just in time to make the bus, which runs only once a month — and always leaves early. It’s almost like it wants to be missed. After passing through two security checkpoints, we finally arrive at the center of the Rungis International Market. It’s only 30 minutes outside the French capital, and it’s the largest wholesale market in the world. But ask most Parisians if they’ve heard of it, and they’re likely to shrug and shake their heads. Three hours earlier, at around two in the morning, buyers from some of the world’s biggest restaurants, hotel chains, and grocery stores had come through to make their daily purchases of meat, fish, vegetables, and flowers. Once they were done, smaller shops and restaurants — the ones who can’t afford the “premier” pass — came in take …

The Truths Only the Dying Know

As winter begins to shut down on us like the white lid of a box, so too death is shutting down on my mother, bringing an end to her story. Death is something we don’t give much thought to anymore. Besides for our loved ones, we pay little attention to people once they grow to a certain age, and once death comes to knock they have already practically disappeared from our society’s conscience. Meant to spur on a belief in God, medieval reminders of death – like the memento mori in artworks — lasted through the Victorian era as moralizing aides-mémoires that life is short and the afterlife is infinite. The Ash Wednesday proclamation, “Remember, Man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return” attempted to convey the absolute lack of power humans have within the scheme of history. With death ever looming we should think about the afterlife.

America’s Nostalgia for the British Aristocracy

It used to be you couldn’t throw a stick in an Oxford quadrangle without hitting a posh, white, Eton-prepped, young man. These days though, you’re just as likely to hit a middle-class girl from Nottingham, sleep-deprived and lugging a backpack, on her way to economics class. It’s clear that modern Americans love the idea of British royalty. From a national obsession with Downton Abbey to a desire for those “oh so lovely accents,” the aristocratic days sure seem dandy to us; and yet, this kind of aristocracy has all but disappeared. Oxford, Cambridge, and Eton each have “Diversity” webpages and their once-impossible-to-penetrate wrought iron gates have been flung open to anyone from any social class from any country. Prestigious, $100,000-per-year boarding schools like Le Rosey have finally begun to dole out hefty scholarships. Hunting outings are now team-building corporate events. A ski trip in the Alps isn’t all that unusual for the upper-middle-class student studying abroad in Europe. (In fact, she probably also goes sailing in the West Indies with her consultant/corporate lawyer/oil maven father during …