Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Bon Appétit! Making Soufflé with Nous Non Plus

Written by Joshua Seidner
 
                          
If you happen to hang in dark corners of bars that still allow smoking, or in line at gourmet cheese shop counters, or in back of the few remaining couturier clothing shops in existence, you're likely to bump into more than a few Parisian expats. While they haven't necessarily etched out a turf of their own, like the Tokyo and Tel Aviv transplants on New York’s St. Marks Place or the Aussies in Alphabet City, the French have a connection to almost every scene and industry. It might be for that reason that we take for granted the red wine-stained bistros down the block, the constant presence of Godard at art house cinemas, and the messy, sexy, bed-headed girls in short skirts, cigarettes dangling from lips, in our discotheques. 
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If you happen to hang in dark corners of bars that still allow smoking, or in line at gourmet cheese shop counters, or in back of the few remaining couturier clothing shops in existence, you're likely to bump into more than a few Parisian expats. While they haven't necessarily etched out a turf of their own, like the Tokyo and Tel Aviv transplants on New York’s St. Marks Place or the Aussies in Alphabet City, the French have a connection to almost every scene and industry. It might be for that reason that we take for granted the red wine-stained bistros down the block, the constant presence of Godard at art house cinemas, and the messy, sexy, bed-headed girls in short skirts, cigarettes dangling from lips, in our discotheques.

Not so for Nous Non Plus, a six-person band of outsiders that are taking their inspiration from the French New Wave a step further than most Francophiles. The band, two parts homme to one part femme, have found a niche that few others have exploited: Faux Frenchies. Doing more than just wearing berets or black and white striped shirts, Nous Non Plus have perfected a Parisian pop sound and aesthetic that has become their trademark.

Drawing on the stereotype of a gourmand Français, Sadie asked if they'd like to film their own version of a cooking show for us. The band jumped at the chance, using their single, “Catastrophe,” as the score for a homemade, home-baking video that puts their culinary skills to the test while subtly and sarcastically commenting on the chauvinism that Nous Non Plus feels still permeates French culture.

Jean-Luc Retard and Henri "Harry" Covert, two of the four guys in the band, find themselves incapable of making anything edible (Cal d’Hommage and Morris "Mars" Chevrolet, the other two males, do not appear in this video). Equating their fondness for French cuisine to their fondness for lovemaking, we’re left to assume that the men are as inept in the bedroom as they are in the kitchen. It’s only after their female counterparts, Céline Dijon and Bonnie Day, steal the chefs’ hats that the table is finally used for fine dining. Watching them interact with one another, you can’t help but hope the ladies slipped a little blue pill in with the baking soda (you know, nothing quite boosts a chauvinist as much as something to boast about). Either way, c’est pas un problem pour Sadie… we prefer Nous Non Plus on stage rather than in bed or in a boulangerie anyhow.

Joshua:
Where are you each from originally?

Jean-Luc Retard:
We are all from France by way of New York, Philly, Denver, La Jolla, and a few other cities. Céline was born and raised in Paris and lives there now. The rest of us have a long-distance relationship with the country, or LDR, as it is called here. We see France every now and again, and we send the occasional e-mail. We use Skype, as well.

Joshua:
And what are the finer points of French culture that Nous Non Plus has been influenced by?

Jean-Luc:
Based on our history as a band, I would say [that] we are most interested in two periods of French culture: The Revolution and The Great Schism (or Avignon Papacy). We also like anything by Godard or Resnais. We would not exist without Serge Gainsbourg—but then neither would Charlotte Gainsbourg, and we think she is quite pretty.

Joshua: Pop Français had a strong moment with artists like Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, and Jane Birkin in the sixties. What makes America ready for another French invasion?

Henri "Harry" Covert:
The era of George W. Bush is over and Americans are contrite for all of the negativity aimed at the French during this dark, dark period.

Joshua:
How would you consider yourselves Francophiles, if at all?

Jean-Luc: We believe our Francophilia to be a benevolent form of enlightened self-interest.

Joshua:
Is that to say that you have a heightened appreciation for French food, wine, [and] cuisine?

Jean-Luc:
That is like asking how strong is our appreciation for lovemaking. Or water. Or lovemaking underwater. Stupid. Next question.

Joshua:
Name a few of your favorite French dishes.

Céline Dijon:
I like so many French delicacies that would be thought of as revolting by Americans that I am afraid to traumatize any innocent souls that might be reading this article, but I will say that tender young bovine innards are among my favorites.

Jean-Luc:
Foie gras should not be illegal. Making foie gras illegal should be illegal!

Joshua:
Why do you think the relationship the French have to food is as strong and sensual as it is?

Céline:
Perhaps because the French are so into odors, and smell is an enormous part of taste. Once, after a particularly sweaty show in Paris, a very wild Parisian nightlife czar named Nicolas Ullmann licked Bonnie Day’s armpit. We are simply not afraid of smell—we embrace it.

Joshua: What’s the best French food to take out of the kitchen and into the bedroom, so to speak?

Henri:
Truffle Camembert from Barthélémy [one of the best cheese shops in Paris]. It already smells like sex and melts at body temperature, making it very spreadable.

Céline:
Definitely andouillette [French sausage].

Bonnie Day:
Réglisse noire [black licorice].

Jean-Luc: Bivalves [mollusks like clams or oysters].

Joshua: If you were to have a cooking show of your own, what would it look like?

Henri: We like this show Mad Men. The women do all the cooking AND the cleaning. And they know how to dress, as well.

Jean-Luc:
I picture Julia Child (who called herself “The French Chef”), but instead of a hulking man-woman, the beautiful Céline and Bonnie are making the cooking, wearing very little clothing… French men are still chauvinists, as you can see.

Céline: The Muppet Show's Swedish Chef.

Joshua:
Would you switch between the microwave and the mic stand on your show?

Jean-Luc:
Is that what T-Pain does? We very much admire his work.

Céline:
I'm personally anti-microwave. The Chinese say anything that heats up really fast must cool down at the same rate. I’m into slow and sensual. There is nothing less sexy than a microwave.

Joshua: What would you wear under your chef's aprons?

Céline:
We wanted to wear just our underwear for the “Catastrophe” video, but we're a bit gun-shy ever since we [were] banned from YouTube for our "One Night in Paris" video for pretending to make love naked under a sheet! Rest assured, the video can still be seen on our Web site.
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Soufflé au Chocolat
By Nous Non Plus

Préparation: 25 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Difficulté: Très facile [easy]
Cost: Bon marché! (cheap!)

A delectable dessert which will make a great impression...

What you will need:
Pour 4 personnes

20 grams de beurre (1.5 tablespoons butter)
4 eggs
2 egg whites
100 grams dark chocolat at 65 percent cacao (1/2 cup)
2 spoonfuls dark rhum (miam)
2 spoonfuls créme fraîche
1 pinch of salt
2 spoonfuls powdered sugar

1. Préheat le four [the oven] to 200°C (392 fahrenheit). Butter a 1-liter soufflé dish. Break the eggs separating the yellows from the whites.

2. Make le chocolat melt in a bain-marie avec le rhum [pan of boling water with rum]. When it's nicely soft, mix in la crème, then the egg yellows (don't cook the eggs!). Let thicken for 4 minutes while stirring. Take away from the flame and let it cool.

3. Beat the 6 egg whites like firm snow with the salt, then add the
sugar still beating, beating, beating. Now delicately incorporate
them in the chocolate mix. Pour it all in the soufflé dish and hop! in
the oven for 20 minutes.

Hints:
•Serve this soufflé au chocolat as soon as it comes out of the oven,
otherwise it risks "falling." Lightly dust it with confectioners' sugar.

•Accompagnement: Un bon Jurançon [a good wine from Jurançon, a wine region in South West France].

Bon appétit!

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