We Must Cultivate Our “Garden”

Eighteenth century French writer, Voltaire in his novel Candido, says “Il faut cultiver notre jardin’’, which means “we must cultivate our garden’’.

He is writing metaphorically that it is important to cultivate the spirit within as well as the beautiful things in our life.

This gem of French literature was unearthed by my French teacher, Elsa, who added in her Christmas card:  “For me, our friendship is one of the flowers of  the garden’’.

Such is also the wonder of Christmas and New Year that we find lovely words to say and write about each other.

Style is yet another inimitable quality of self, allowing us to express ourselves in myriad ways whether through fashion, home decoration, writing, garden design, cooking, sewing, photography or handicraft. Whatever turns you on.

Flowers, for me, have been my “tools’’ of style since I sold flower fashioners fitted with suction caps as a young 20-something mother wanting spare pocket money to buy a television set.

I sold heaps of them on the party plan, arriving at people’s homes with a bucket of flowers and shrubbery (cheap) plonking such exotics as pointsettias, birds of paradise,  and agapanthus into the shapely range of vases I was also selling.  Necessity was certainly the mother of invention for me. And when I had earned that 600.00 to buy the teak telly, I simply kept arranging flowers for my own home.

It has become my statement of style and the floral arrangements are finished long before I begin to cook a meal for guests.

When brother-in-law Ken Otto hand-crafted a beautiful timber pedestal for my 50th birthday, my arrangements evolved into expressions of sophisticated artistic floral art.  It has rarely been without a vase of flowers since and in my retirement, flowers are still a budget item each week.

Back to Voltaire. His sentiments will be the theme of my Facebook page Life & Style by Nadine Williams, which enjoyed a “soft’’ opening in the latter months of 2010.

Now as we open up a lovely new blank page of our lives for 2011, let me invite you to find time to read my writings on life and style.

My writings will be simple expressions of style I witness in people’s lives written to inspire everyone to cultivate their own stylish ways of being.

Style, I believe, helps us stay young at heart –  whatever our age – and fosters satisfaction and contentment.

“Philly’’ a phoney for real French fromages.

The French people are precious about their cheeses and savour the nose, palate and taste of  their ancient fromages with as much passion as their wines.

But now there is an American invader, the odourless Philadelphia Cream cheese which is attacking the land of camembert, brie and Roquefort fighting for a share of the 24kg (53lb) of cheese eaten by the average Frenchman each year.

In a trial move into the lucrative French cheese market, Kraft, the US food giant has packed its product on supermarket shelves in western and southern regions of France.

Purists, who reckon there is no cheese like a French cheese are fighting the move by Kraft warning that the survival of the cheese industry is at stake.

The US giant has pushed its foot in the door in France, which is already suffering a decline in its unpasteurised cheese products, which has seen sales of camembert fall by 2.6 per cent last year while industrial cream cheese sales rose by three per cent.

However, an article by Adam Sage in The Times,  states that French people are already being weaned off quality cheeses to French brands equivalent to “Philly”such as St Meret, made by Bongrain, the French food group.

“Ninety per cent of French people eat cheese which has no taste and the texture of rubber now,’’ said Virginie Boularouah, who runs the Fromagerie Chez Virginie in Paris.

She doesn’t say it’s a bad thing, but has little nice to say about the product.

“It’s just that it doesn’t taste of anything and it doesn’t smell of anything much either.’’

Leave it for a base for cheesecake she advises.

Because it won’t hold a candle to the authentic French cheeses such as comte, which takes 40 months to mature, let alone those delicious fresh goats milk cheeses sold in cheese boutiques and village markets all over France.