Allons, Enfants, à la Party!

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Tricolor at Le Pichet.JPG

Bastille Day again! The French don't call it that, of course. To François and Frédéc, it's La Fête Nationale. Saturday, anyway.

Where to celebrate?

Let's start with Bastille itself, in Ballard. Two jazz bands, a burlesque performance, and a costume contest. Ballard may never recover.

Down at the Pike Place Market, the three French restaurants will be celebrating. Le Pichet, Maximilien, and Cafe Campagne will all have celebrations.

Mid-town, RN 74, which is named for a highway in Burgundy, will celebrate with a casino night. You pays your money, you takes your chance.

And at Luc, in Madison Valley, the Chef in the Hat himself, Thierry Rautureau, will be grilling up sausages and pouring rosé.

Carla Schier's magic wand

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Carla Schier with Veuve Clicquot cake.jpg

Born in South Africa, Carla Schier worked as a journalist (who just happened to have an advanced degree in environmental policy) before she moved to Germany and switched to women's health care. Then came another move, to Seattle, along with another career change, this time to baking. Specifically, creative wedding cakes. "The most beautiful cakes in America," according to Martha Stewart. The best in Seattle six years running, according to Seattle Bride magazine. Her company, Honey Crumb Cake Studio, is located in Lower Queen Anne, where she also teaches classes in creating flowers out of sugar frosting. Her Instagram feed is a succession of "Omigod, Carla" comments.

For a Champagne-lover's birthday party last week, she created a perfectly sculpted Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame bottle and ice bucket (carved from Earl Grey cake with lavender buttercream) complete with sugar "ice cubes." The hit of the party. For more traditional weddings, Schier creates multi-tiered cakes with edible flowers; for special occasions there are footballs,, bicycles, shoe boxes, baby animals, Harry Potter books, mermaids, forest scenes, even (gulp) unicorns. Not inexpensive, mind you; the custom cakes start at $400.

"Cake is reverence, cake is love," Schier explains. Yes, it's texture, aroma and taste. "But it's also a canvas, and a magic wand whose great power is to set your inner child free."

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Overlooking Lake Geneva from Evian.

It was 80 years ago this week, July of 1938, that delegates from 32 countries met at the French resort town of Evian to consider the most pressing problem of the day: what to do about the growing number of visa applications from Jews seeking to leave Germany. The United States, which had called for the conference, hoped that other countries would find a long-term solution, but was unwilling to ease the draconian immigration restrictions enacted by Congress in 1924. After the first five years of Nazi rule, 150,000 Jews (my parents among them) had managed to flee the country. Now, half a million more were looking for an escape route; what they needed were not exit visas from Germany but a country willing to take them in.

No other countries stepped forward. Most feared that an increase of refugees would cause economic hardships. Only the tiny Dominican Republic expressed a willingness to accept more refugees.

The conference lasted a week and ended in failure. The German government was able to crow how "astounding" it was that foreign countries criticized Germany for their treatment of the Jews, but none of them wanted to open the doors to them when the opportunity arose.

Even worse: a year later, a Senate bill to rescue 20,000 Jewish children failed to pass. Historians blame widespread racial prejudices among Americans--including antisemitic attitudes held by officials of the State Department.

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