Thursday, April 17, 2014
Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.
Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.
La Semaine Sante is the Holy Week preceding Pâques (Easter).
During this special week, it’s customary for Roman Catholics to be particularly aware of the dietary practice of abstinence from meat, especially on Vendredi Saint (Good Friday), before Easter. Franco-Americans will typically plan to eat fish when these dietary religious rules are practiced. Two recipes our family prepares on Vendredi Saint are haddock chowder (chaudrée de poisson avec églefin) and salmon pie with fresh fish and lemon(pâté au saumon avec du poisson frais et citron). Celery salt is a seasoning used in both recipes.
Haddock chowder is the easiest recipe to prepare for a Good Friday menu. This milk based soup is quickly put together while only requiring a few simple ingredients to combine with the haddock. Two important rules to remember when cooking fresh seafood are to be sure the fish is as fresh as possible (frozen at sea haddock is okay) and be careful about not overcooking the recipes. Both of these recipes were prepared to feature in this blog.
Les Chanteurs Acadiens from Madawaska performed following a hot and tasty lunch served to about 100 people who attended the Thursday, April 9th, “la rencontre”, at the
Les Chanteurs Acadiens peformers (left) Don Levesque, Roger Damboise (center) and Charles Stewart at the Franco-Center's monthly la rencontre in Lewiston
Parishioners, who attended the St. John the Baptist Church in Brunswick ME, were familiar with a physically disabled gentleman who regularly went to Mass. His name was Richard D. Fisco. He’d park his Explorer van at the side entrance to the church where his meticulously groomed and faithful French poodle waited for him to return. He was a highly decorated World War II veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart. After his service in World War II, he worked as a New York City firefighter.
Fisco’s life was one of religious devotion and love he shared for France. He saw intense World War II incidents, but these were countered by the joy he experienced from the love in his marriage and family. His memoirs are an uplifting series of stories, some are sad while many of them are extraordinary.
World War II decorated paratrooper Fisco was determined to publish his autobiography before he died on December 13, 2013 at the age of 93, in Brunswick. For several years, at the end of his life, he suffered with the rare neuromuscular disease of myasthenia gravis. Fisco’s life, published in 2011, in the book, “Your Lives Will Be Beautiful”, is a tribute to all veterans. He describes his long life as being fraught with challenges and some miracles, especially, when he described his landing during a parachute drop over France. Each chapter of Fisco’s captivating stories includes meaningful photographs and newspaper articles documenting significant events described about his life.
French history is typically found everywhere. So, reporting on it is a travel hobby. Blogging also allows for the posting travel photographs.
A spring break visit to Jacksonville Florida gave me and my husband a chance to walk through the colonial French history in the state the Spanish named La Florida. In fact, French history predates the Spanish in Florida as well as in Maine. We visited the beautiful National Park at Fort Caroline and the Ribault Monument located on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL where the beauty of the area belies the violent history of European colonial era expansion.
Franco-Americans frequently ask where they can find more information about their ancestry and heritage. As a matter of fact, this was the leading subject with a group of students at the University of Maine Augusta (UMA), who are participating in writing oral histories and interviewing Franco-Americans.
UMA students studying Franco-American Cultural Identity in Context included Andres Breault (left) with Nicki Lynn Cook, Megan Orr, Kathlyn O'Brien, Tarei Richwalder, Matthew Raymond, Sandra Arbour, Dr. Chelsea Ray (center back row), and on the right Blackie Bechard and Bob Pomerleau. Seated front are Richard and Juliana L'Heureux with the anthology "Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader"
In fact, Franco-American history is integrated in American history, because the first colonial settlers in Maine came to St. Croix Island in Calais in 1604, from France, thus predating the Pilgrims in Plymouth MA, by 16 years. Yet, this information is often less reported in American history books than the British settlements.