Em­bassy of France CUL­TURE MIX through the senses

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mar­cia Rowe Gleaner Writer

THERE WAS a mas­sive turnout for one of France’s in­trigu­ing cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences – the Beau­jo­lais Nou­veau party, at the Am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Kingston 6.

It was a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence as the French Am­bas­sador to Ja­maica, Jean-Michel Des­pax and wife Line Des­pax, com­ple­mented their French tra­di­tion with a dis­play of Ja­maican art­works and live mu­sic.

On the heels of a suc­cess­ful stag­ing of Christina Stiebel’s art ex­hi­bi­tion as well as the Beau­jo­lais Nou­veau Party in 2015, Am­bas­sador Des­pax and Mrs Des­pax, who also paints, de­cided to have a re­peat of both events in 2016. This year, both events have been com­bined.

In so do­ing, they car­ried out their mantra of bring­ing to­gether a mix of peo­ple. This year the plan was to en­gage three of their senses, “tast­ing the wine, cheese and ham, view the paint­ing and the third is hear­ing the mu­sic.”

“We see it as a way of re­flect­ing what we call the re­pub­lic in France: re­pub­lic of equal­ity, fra­ter­nity, lib­erty. And so you have a lot of dif­fer­ent kind of peo­ple from cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion, busi­ness, me­dia and peo­ple from var­i­ous places in Ja­maica. Some come for the Beau­jo­lais and dis­cover the paint­ings; some come for the paint­ings and dis­cover the Beau­jo­lais. It’s a good mix. Also it is ap­peal­ing to all the senses,” am­bas­sador Des­pax told The Gleaner.

Rickie Ster­ling on key­board, pro­vided the mu­sic amid chat­ter, while Judy MacMil­lan ex­hib­ited works of land­scapes and hu­man be­ings, from 1968 to present. Pa­trons viewed, ques­tioned and hope­fully pur­chased, but no dis­play was more pro­nounced than plates with bread, ham and cheese and wine glasses, boast­ing Beau­jo­lais. So what is Beau­jo­lais?

Beau­jo­lais in Bur­gundy, is the name of the wine and a re­gion in France. And in a clever mar­ket­ing strat­egy, has given rise to the one­day phe­nom­ena on that be­gan sev­eral decades ago.

“The wine is a new wine; the grapes are har­vested in Beau­jo­lais in the Bur­gundy re­gion in Septem­ber. It was el­e­vated and bot­tled in Oc­to­ber and in a tra­di­tion that ex­isted for 60 years, on the third Thurs­day of November, one week be­fore Thanks­giv­ing in the US, we open the first bot­tle of the Beau­jo­lais all around the world,” Am­bas­sador Des­pax ex­plained.

The in­trigu­ing wine party, starts each year in France, in a pub­lic space in Lyon, the cap­i­tal of the Bur­gundy, at mid­night. And with the rip­ple ef­fect of corks pop­ping is gen­er­ated around the world, in­clud­ing Ja­maica.

“It is quite tricky get­ting the wine to Ja­maica, as the wine is bot­tled in Bur­gundy at the end of Oc­to­ber and we need to have it de­liv­ered to Ja­maica be­fore the third Thurs­day of November. This year we had this one (the wine) a week be­fore. Last year we got it on Wed­nes­day, just the day be­fore, and we were re­ally wor­ried about not hav­ing it on time. If you don’t have it on Thurs­day, that’s it. It is only one night, af­ter that it is all over,” the Am­bas­sador added.

He fur­ther ex­plained that the wine is al­ways served with cheese “and what we call char­cu­terie ‘cooked’ ham.” The meat is salted and put in a ware­house in the moun­tain. And over a pe­riod of time, the ham is cooked by wind and the salt. “It is good.”

“You have to know the rule of the game. You have to know how you raise your pig, what they eat and how they are slaugh­tered. I would like to see Ja­maicans and agri­cul­ture farm­ers fol­low­ing this path. It is a way to pro­tect your brand and prod­uct. You did that with the Blue Moun­tain Cof­fee that is great. There are so many other prod­ucts that can be pro­tected in that way, too, for ex­am­ple, the jerk chicken.”

MICHAEL RECKORD

Am­bas­sador Des­pax (left) shar­ing with his guests

Rickie Ster­ling on key­board. Above him is a paint­ing by Judy Macmil­lan. Brian Heap and Mr Issa. Thalia Lyn

Judy Macmil­lan stands with her favourite work of art.

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