Sunday, June 29, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Flowers appear

Standing in the atelier where silk flowers are made by hand for designers whose names make the front page of fashion news it was obvious that Paris fashion week was approaching.  A constantly ringing cell phone, special deliveries and drop in visits from clients.  Somehow in the midst of all this the owner, Bruno Legeron, (  managed to offer us a demonstration of how these delicate blooms are created.

Beginning with silk that is starched and dried so that it can be cut into the dozens of shapes with metal dies dated back to the 1800s, to heating the same material to soften it so the tiny fabric pieces can be shaped to resemble the petals of a flower each step is fascinating.  Large or small each petal is dyed a specific color (or colors) by hand in a tiny room hardly begin enough for one person to work.   The people who do the work are extraordinary.   Clever and creative , patient and precise.   The work they turn out – stunning pink roses, tiny white camellias, shoes and dresses covered in colored feathers or flowers seem to be touched by a bit of magic. 

But this visit was for me, more than seeing skillful artisans create pieces of beauty.  It was also reminder that not everything in our world is made by machines.  In the days when 3D printers are about to become as much a household object as toothbrush or TV, it’s good to remember that behind all these objects are people.   Individuals who design the product, create the tools to make them, operate the machines and robots that increasingly are part of the manufacturing process. 

For a glimpse of the flowers of Ets Legeron scan the pages of magazines and newspapers reporting about Fashion Week 2014, visit their website ( or watch Bruno explain the process of YouTube.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

What Do I Want to See?

As I settled into my tiny seat on the plane from Los Angeles to Paris I thought about what I would be most happy to see this trip to Paris.  The answer?  The Cathedral  - Notre Dame of Paris. ( No matter how often I go, what I’m doing, how crazy the schedule, even a brief visit to Notre Dame is essential.  It brightens my spirits, surprises me with its beauty, and brings moments of calm in a hectic world.

Then I asked myself: are there places in other cities that seem equally important?   A special place that is key to a satisfactory visit?  It turns out I have a list – a surprise to me.  In New York it’s the Met and at least a few minutes with the Temple of Dendur.

Chicago?  Garrett’s popcorn shop on Michigan Avenue.   Moscow?  Dorgomilovsky Market.  London?  Westminster Abbey. 

It was harder to answer what is the special vision that makes Los Angeles home. Not the Hollywood sign.  Not the La Brea Tar Pits or even the beach in Santa Monica.  Coming home for me is the first glimpse of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Just blocks from where I live, I walk or drive by it almost daily and never tire of seeing it.   (

Now I wonder what will the discovery in the next city I visit.  And I'd ask you to share -  what are the special images you have on your list?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do Crops Shape Culture?

Alison Copnick suggest just that in her New York Times article “Rice, What and the Values They Sow”.

 She says that an article in the journal Science written by Thomas Talhelm (  suggests that  wheat growing, bread cultures think differently than a rice growing, rice-eating society. 

Further, his research shows differences in how each group would reward a friend versus a stranger, or how people explain relationships between images.  What do you think are the the relationship between a dog, rabbit and carrot?  Thinking based on bread or rice?

At the heart of this article is the idea that rice growing requires more coordinated and cooperative effort than growing wheat.  And that leads to different ways of thinking, living, levels interdependence,  independence and views of the world.

It appears that what you grow makes a difference beyond what you eat.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

If You Owned an Airline

Imagine that you owned an airline, any airline.  What would you do, what policies would you put in place?   What would you “correct”?    

When asked people often responded:

Bags would  fly free  for everyone (

Seats would grow, become bigger, with more legroom even in economy

Meals, tasty, healthy meals would be provided at all levels of service

And those are just the beginning of what people would do.  Practical things.  About being comfortable.  Not feeling asked to pay and then pay and pay again.

But those aren’t the only things that might happen.  There are other ideas  - some of which I discovered reading my friend Cheryl Sternman Rule’s blog this week.  Sheryl is the award winning writer of the blog  5secondrule.  Her a post this week was titled "If I Owned an Airline."- (   By the way, Sheryl is a food writer, cook book author and whenever she writes you get recipes as well as thought provoking commentary.  This week was no exception.

Her question, and comments inspired this post.  What did she say?  Here’s a sample.   For the full post click on the link above.

If I owned an airline, I'd give upgrades not just for miles flown, but for homework helped, groceries shopped, children hugged, and laundry done.

If I owned an airline, I'd stock the galley not with pretzels, but with slices of warm fruit tart bleeding cherries and peaches. I'd top them with snow-capped mountains of cool Greek yogurt, pass linen napkins and sturdy mugs of fresh-brewed tea. 

Read further and you’ll find more ideas plus a recipe so you can create the tart at home – not to feed your imaginary airline passengers but to feed your real friends and family.

If you owned an airline just imagine the unique, creative and world changing things you could do.  If you owned an airline.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Discover the Food and Discover the Place

Going to World Cup?   Thinking about Brazil beyond the soccer stadium?   One way to explore a new place is by discovering  the local food.  Simple you say.  Check out a list of what the place is known for, find a restaurant that serves it and you’re set.   To start your World Cup list you might consult BuzzFeeds “24 Traditional Brazilian Foods You Need to Eat Right Now”
But if you want to discover not just new dishes but something of the history of the food itself, the local environment, and the people who create the food you might want to try a culinary tour of the city.  In Rio that could mean signing up with Eat Rio tours

But it isn’t just Rio that offers these tours  In July in Rome  I’ll do a Twilight Tasting tour offered by  Eating Italy (the offer tours in London and Amsterdam too),   Shanghai?  There’s UnTour, a culinary tour. Visiting Paris?  There’s Paris by Mouth( and Los Angeles offers Melting Pot tours

Where are you heading next?  Will you take a tour and what will you discover?