It was a grass-roots movement that actually succeeded: the storming of the Bastille by a mob of raging Parisians on July 14, 1789. Louis XIV’s ruthless soldiers had been holding political prisoners there, and the powerless but growing proletariat was fed up.
So they revolted, liberating the prisoners – all seven of them – and taking down the monarchy’s most conspicuous symbol. Today the French celebrate Bastille Day – La Fête Nationale, a national holiday since 1880.
They do know how to celebrate; they’ve even named an official Bastille Day drink: Lillet, an apéritif or, according to EU law, an “aromatized wine.” Produced in Podensac, a small village south of Bordeaux, Lillet is an apéritif, 85 percent a “blend of rigorously selected wines” and 15 percent fruit liqueurs.
Meals for this holiday are hassle free: there are no traditional foods connected to Bastille Day, but you’ll find families literally “breaking bread” together, eating simple peasant foods as a nod to their rebellious ancestors. Baguettes, cheeses, charcuterie and a bottle of wine will do; some get a bit fancier, serving savory crêpes filled with mushrooms and sausage or bacon.
If you’re in Paris this week, you’ll be treated to spectacular fireworks and the world’s largest and oldest military parade. Wherever you celebrate, let’s raise a glass to the proletariat everywhere – and to liberation!
Wine Lingo of the Day: Apéritif = a drink served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
Vino ‘Views: I like a light-bodied red with my savory crêpes, so I picked up a bottle of 2013 Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve Rouge (13% alcohol, $12.99). Ruby-red and fading to a rim that can only be described as fuchsia, this wine stands up to a savory dish, yet lets you know its origins with a scent of lavender. Mild tannins and gentle tastes of strawberries and tropical fruits make Les Dauphins Rouge a great choice for a summer evening.
Vive la France!
[Photo of Bastille Day celebration, courtesy of the United Nations/Rick Bajornas via Flickr]