French Carolina

Carolina was an English colony, of course, but did you know that the French actually beat the English in the race to get there? Of course, the Spanish beat them all in 1526. Quelle surprise. Their settlement, San Miguel de Gualdape, was actually the first European settlement in what is now the United States, possibly located near the site of present-day Georgetown, South Carolina. Unfortunately for the Spanish, though, San Miguel was abandoned after only 3 months when famine, disease, and unrest among their Native American neighbors forced the settlers to return to Santo Domingo. The French arrived in 1562, after Admiral Gaspard de Coligny organized an expedition to settle the region. The expedition, led by Norman navigator Jean Ribault, built Charlesfort on present-day Parris Island but, like the Spanish before them, they didn’t stick it out for very long. Ribault, having returned to Europe for supplies, was detained because of the French wars of religion, leaving his fledgling settlement to founder. After only one year, all but one of the 28 remaining settlers set off across the Atlantic in a makeshift vessel. You may have read about their fate: by the time they were rescued by a passing English ship, the unfortunate crew had already resorted to cannibalism to stay alive as they drifted aimlessly on the ocean. Meanwhile, the Spanish sent an expedition from Cuba to destroy Charlesfort, and the French experiment in colonizing the area came to an end. It wasn’t the end of French settlement though …

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Fried Green Christmas

Palmetto tree lit up for Christmas in Marion Square, Charleston, SC © 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

It’s been far too long since my last post, and I apologize for that, dear readers. On December 17, we left Paris for the United States to spend Christmas in South Carolina, a trip I’ve nicknamed a “Fried Green Christmas” in homage to my mother‘s Southern cuisine. Since arriving last Saturday, we’ve decorated the Christmas tree and put up Christmas lights, we’ve visited family and friends in Columbia (spending an hour driving through a Christmas-light installation in a 400-acre park), we’ve spent a jam-packed 24 hours with my parents sightseeing in almost-tropical Charleston, surrounded by Christmas lights in palmetto trees, and we’ve finally finished up our Christmas shopping and gift wrapping.

Today, we’ll be joined by my aunt and uncle for Christmas dinner. There will be 6 of us at the table, but only 4 carnivores. Nevertheless, my mother has cooked a 7-lb. Christmas ham (you know, the one decorated with pineapple rings, maraschino cherries, and cloves), and 3 … yes, count ’em … 3 small chickens! That, along with the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted, means we’re well on our way to packing on a few pounds before those New Year’s resolutions next weekend! Continue reading Fried Green Christmas

The French Connection: At Least 0.4%

If you did a keyword analysis of my blog, you might conclude that I’m obsessed with food: cocktails, French pastries, and the search for pancakes in Paris. You might be right. The truth is that I am a gourmand; I can’t deny it. But my real passion — my real obsession — is history.

HISTORY NERD ALERT: If you don’t like history, this may not be your favorite blogpost, but try it out anyway. You might find it interesting. If you’re in my family, you’re going to want to read this regardless of whether you like history, because it’s your story too!

Here we go …

Dubosc • DuBose

I have always loved to immerse myself in old stories and as a child, I often imagined myself in other times, leading a different life in the middle of some historical event   I was reading about. I loved listening to family stories, too, especially those of my Great Aunt Adeline, who could recount the exploits and travails of the family with such color that you had the impression that she was actually there when it all happened. I probably owe my love of history to some combination of Aunt Adeline’s stories and the World Book Encyclopedia.

Continue reading The French Connection: At Least 0.4%