- Terrance Gelenter, author and founder of Paris Through Expatriate Eyes, writes: I was conceived in Casablanca, transported across the Atlantic in Solonge Medina’s womb, born in Monongahela, PA, just seventeen miles downriver from Pittsburgh and raised in Brooklyn. So you might say that my French life began in utero. Syndicated film critic, Hispanic media executive, and author, Terrance Gelenter has parlayed his passion for Paris into a new chapter in his life. Terrance makes his home in Paris where he produces and hosts literary salons, conducts sophisticated tours for non-tourists, writes and distributes his weekly newsletter to over 10,000 weekly subscribers and on Thursday nights performs the Great American Songbook in the style of Tony Bennett at the Duke’s Bar of the Westminster Hotel.
- VIDEO: Terrance in Paris, Episode 1 “With Alexander Lobrano at the Mini Palais.” Meet Alexander Lobrano worldwide famous food critic and author of the best seller Hungry for Paris.BOOK: From Bagels to Brioches – Paris par hasard, by Terrance Gelenter, is a spirited, anecdote-filled memoir. In Paris, his book is available at the Village Voice Bookshop and Shakespeare & Co.Available on Amazon and as an e-book (Kindle).Terrance is the founder of Paris Through Expatriate Eyes and Paris Travel Services for Discerning Travelers. We met last year over a glass of wine at a small café in the sixth arrondissement near the Jardin du Luxembourg. And talked, of course, about all things Paris!
AWP: Name the books and movies, works of art and music, fashion or cuisine that have inspired you.
TG: As a pre-teen I devoured the Landmark series about U.S. and World History, and now I continue to have at least two books at hand at all times, but there was never a life changer — I just continue to savor the non-competitive pleasure of learning.
Movies have always been a huge part of my life and certainly have informed behaviors and shaped a way of seeing the world through my “lens.” Some of my favorites are Ninotchka, Casablanca, and anything by Billy Wilder, whom I had the privilege of interviewing when he was 88 years old.
I learned how to cook in self-defense, sorry Mom. My favorite cookbook is The Cuisine of the Sun, by Mireille Johnston. It inspired a delight in the cuisine of Provence.
AWP: Do you have any role models?
TG: My grandparents, Charles and Anne Ferstenberg, who taught me how to live, by example.
AWP: What is the last book you read?
TG: The Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the ’50s, New York in the ’60s: A Memoir of Publishing’s Golden Age, by Richard Seaver.
AWP: In your youth, what did you imagine your adult life would hold? What influenced this vision?
TG: I didn’t have a specific professional goal such as doctor or lawyer but I had an intense curiosity that I was confident would lead me to a satisfying life.
AWP: In your early teens, what formed your romantic fantasies of adventure and love?
TG: Playboy magazine. I would have the perfect bachelor pad, serve cocktails and French wines and sing softly into the ears of beautiful women who unlike Mort Sahl’s observation about adolescent fantasies informed by Playboy did not fold in 3 places and have a staple in their navel.
AWP: What were your favorite childhood things to do?
TG: Baseball and reading.
AWP: What nourishes your passions?
TG: I love to sing — the joy of connecting with an audience individually and collectively…and of course, Paris.
AWP: How did you get your foot in the door at the beginning of your career?
TG: Which career? Not being handicapped by too much formal education (1 year of college in the wrong major I have been able to reinvent myself as necessary).
AWP: Was being stylish important to you growing up in your teens? Is it now?
TG: I was from Brooklyn — a cool appearance was required.
AWP: How do you define style or fashion?
TG: It should reflect you and your tastes and not be subject to the whims of trends.
AWP: Tell me about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.
TG: I love the entire cooking experience. This morning, for example, I walked to my local traveling market on the boulevard Raspail and bought leeks, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, fennel, parsley, garlic and tomatoes for a cauldron of soup that will last several days. The aromas wafting from the kitchen warmed the apartment and perfumed the atmosphere.
AWP: What was your most memorable meal to date?
TG: It was the summer of 1995 at about 9:30 in the evening on the terrace restaurant of the Hotel Martinez in Cannes. The sun was just setting and later the lights along La Croisette resembled a long string of pearls. And the food and wine matched the setting.
AWP: What is in your refrigerator right now?
TG: Very little — a few leftover vegetables from this morning’s soup, buerre with fleur de sel, a few eggs, coffee, terrine of salmon, milk and a bottle of champagne.
ART OF LIVING:
AWP: What do you live for? What do you love above all?
TG: The sheer pleasure of the serendipitous (par hasard) experiences that inform my quotidian life here in Paris. My children and grandchildren.
AWP: What natural gift would you most like to possess? What talent are you most thankful for?
TG: Danceability. My singing voice.
You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, French Apéritif: Cocktails in Paris, by Barbara Redmond who writes about the sublime experience of cocktails at six-thirty or seven o’clock in Paris and the journey into a slower paced world of genteel manners and day-to-evening transformations. Cocktails: Fashions from the 1930s to the 1960s — Chanel’s “Little Black Dress,” and Dior’s “The New Look.” Including a recipe for the French aperitif “French Kiss,” by Pernod.
Ritz Paris: Makeover for “la grande dame” by American doctoral canditate and writer Kristin Wood who shares the incredible story of her stay at the Paris Ritz for several nights, when her college roommate “D” invited her on a European getaway. The petal-pink robes and slippers for a quick power nap, then to the piscine for a refreshing wake-up swim before embarking on their first adventure à Paris.
Chocolate Mousse — debonair, dark and irresistibly rich! by Barbara Redmond who tells of this crème de la crème of mousses: a supreme seducer. And uncovers the source of the original dish, first known as “Mayonnaise de Chocolat,” created in the 1900s by French post-impressionist artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Recipe included for Mousseline au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse), by Julia Child from her book, The French Chef Cookbook.
In search of the perfect Moroccan slipper, by American writer Lisa Rounds who tells of her adventures in the North African neighborhood of Barbès in Paris searching for the perfect slipper in red, of course, for a Cosmo photo shoot. Her story of “living the dream,” working for a publishing company in Paris.
A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre
We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)
Text copyright ©2012 Terrance Gelenter. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.