28 November, 2010

We'll drink and be merry

At its last meeting in Nairobi, UNESCO has just added the gastronomic meal of the French on the Representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice bringing people together to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking. There is a certain ritual to follow: drinks as an apéritif, a starter dish, fish or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert, more drinks as digestive to finish. All this enjoyed in good company on a set table.

Here's an illustration. The Choeur Varenne holds periodic week end rehearsals where we spend time working on our vocal pieces but we also take some time to enjoy a good meal. The latest such week end rehearsal was held last week. After the rehearsal, tables were set: two for the diners, one for the drinks, and one for the food. Each one of us had brought an item: apéritif niblets and biscuits, bread, cheese, a savoury pie or tart, a salad, a sweet cake, or a chocolaty item. We all contributed one euro to buy the drinks for the apéritif and the table wine.

First the apéritif.

Then the dinner.

We all had a great time and delicious food.

Here's a health to the company
The Revels, Homeward bound, Revels records

05 November, 2010

And we'll have fun fun fun

I believe in the power of fun as a good catalyzer of efficient work. It actually stimulates some of us to work harder, in moderate dose of course. There is more and more management literature on how young professionals in particular, need to be stimulated by a fun working environment.

I have found a perfect illustration of this concept in the French agrifood industry. The whole website of the company Michel et Augustin looks like a big online game for children and the big children that some adults still are: animations, charades, puns, smileys, even opportunities to win a cow at each step! The whole company team looks young and friendly and the whole world is invited to visit them in their headquarters at the Banana plantation to milk a cow. (The French website is more developed than the English language one, unfortunately for non-French speakers.)

Of course, every thing has to be taken with a pinch of salt:
cow = pot or bottle of yoghurt produced by the company;
Banana plantation = office where there happens to be one banana tree;
to milk a cow = consume a pot or bottle of yoghurt.

Still, it all looks like the whole company is having a wonderful time and this can appeal to potential customers and business partners. But how true is this? I am tempted to investigate further as part of my work: has the fun concept become a mainstream food market segment in France? Perhaps an answer in a few months...

In the meantime, I have already milked a banana-and-guava flavoured cow and loved it ;-)
I expect to purchase a box of the little-squares-not-very-square very soon.

Fun, fun, fun
The Beach Boys, Sounds of summer: the very best of, Capitol Music

Photo: Matt Northam