short novel

Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve in the kitchen

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The two great personalities of the French cinema who were  both married to the Ukranian film director Roger Vadim and  have had many love affairs also share the passion for excellent food.

“Le Bardot”

She was the sex symbol of the 60-s, brought up in a rich family but at age of 17 thanks to (later no thanks) her first husband, Roger Vadim, she turned her back on the life of the aristocrats and became a movie star. While it enabled her to become internationally famous, it also carried with it annoyances. It was not anything for her to have “fans” enter her house or wander around the grounds of her home in St Tropez (Cote D’Azur), the hopes of getting a glimpse of her or to take something that belonged to her. Paparazzi constantly hounded her with their cameras. People even have taken advantage of her generosity but in exchange for that they became openly agressive, (threw snowballs in her face, a nurse in a hospital attacked her with a fork, she still keeps the scars), so no wonder when at age of forthy she couldn’t stand the vexations anymore (committed suicides several times) left the spotlight and went on to become a leading spokesperson for animal rights. She started the “Foundation Brigitte Bardot” dedicated solely to that cause. She even donated her property in St. Tropez the “La Madrague” to the purpose. Her work in that realm is, perhaps, far greater than any film she could have made.

As far as the food is concerned BB still likes cooking for herself, (at age of 78), and eats with great pleasure. In September when I tried to follow the footsteps of BB in St- Tropez I popped in her favourite restaurant, La Ponche in order to make pictures of the interieur and of the menu. Alongside the Mediterranean cuisine I found an amazing diversity of dishes from India, Thailand, Lebanon, Japan and Morocco as well but nobody could tell me what was or is BB’s favorite food. But later, in the tourist office I discovered an interesting issue of the local St-Tropez magazine and for my great joy the September issue was devoted to celebrities who have ever put their feet in the streets of St Tropez. Among others I’ve also found Brigitte Bardot’s favorite dish the Tabbouleh Salad. According to the paper the recipe and story was told by celebrity chef Frédéric van Coppernolle, whose grandmother cared and cooked for Bardot at her home in St.-Tropez.

 In 1980 at age 15, Van Coppernolle (Belgian) was sent to live with his grandmother on Bardot’s estate while his parents were battling a terrible divorce. Bardot had already been a staunch animal rights advocate so she had been a vegetarian for long time. Van Coppernolle became his grandmother’s sous chef and helped her prep various vegetarian dishes such as onion tarts, ratatouille, pizzas and vegetable-and-cheese quiches for Bardot as well as feed Bardot’s 13 dogs and 40 cats special home cooked meals. His grandmother’s tabbouleh was a favorite of Bardot’s. They never corrected her by explaining it was actually a couscous because she was supposedly a bit feisty. Instead, they kept the peace and just let her call it tabbouleh! (Couscous is made of pasta, while tabbouleh is cracked bulgur wheat).

Since its ingredients are very similar to a traditional tabbouleh salad, I’m certain you could substitute bulgur for the couscous if you’d prefer not to eat pasta. Last week I tried out the salad at home and it was delicious!


Ingredients: 2 cups fine bulgur, 2 cups boiling water, 1 bunch green onion, sliced finely, 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped finely, 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped finely, 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 lemons, juice of, 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, salt and pepper, 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions: Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff grains with a wooden spoon. Add onions, parsley, mint, and tomatoes and mix well. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Mix thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.

Catherine Deneuve, “the most lovely woman in the world”

When BB met her ex-husband’s new girlfriend on the set of “La Bride Sur Le Cou” directed by him, the personality of Catherine Deneuve had also captured her:” …behind Vadim lingered a 17-year-old brunette who dressed like me had her hair made like me. Her name was Catherine Deneuve. She had a certain air of a namby-pamby, that was back then unbearable”.

Although raised Catholic, Catherine Deneuve began to defy convention at an early age. In 1961, the 17-year-old starlet, left home and moved in with Ukranian director Roger Vadim, who at 33 was twice divorced and almost twice her age. He was also her mentor, and directed her in Le vice et la vertu (1963). On June 18, 1963, she gave birth to their son, Christian Vadim, she was only 19. Within a month after that, the relationship was over and they broke off contact (he had five wives included Jane Fonda and four children, and died in 2000). After an other failure marriage to a British photographer Catherine Deneuve has shunned the idea of marriage ever since. But this didn’t mean that she got no tangled up in love affairs. Meanwhile she played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece (La belle de jour) she began an intense relationship with the world famous Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. On May 28, 1972, she gave birth to the daughter of his (Chiara), at the age of 28. However the relationship with Mastroianni ended in 1975, but the two remained friends up until his death (from pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1996), with Deneuve present at his bedside.

Deneuve has had many magnificent works: Truffaut’s Last metro (1980), as a stage actress in Nazi-occupied Paris, was a career milestone and won her a César Award for Best Actress. Deneuve’s third foray into Hollywood came in 1983, when she starred in Tony Scott’s The hunger (1983) as a stylish, seductive bisexual vampire living in Manhattan who sets out in search of new blood. The film became a cult classic, and her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon unintentionally made Deneuve a lesbian icon, so much that she would later have to threaten legal action to stop the lesbian magazine Curve from using “Deneuve” as the original title. In 1985, her status as a beauty icon was cemented when her profile was chosen as the model for Marianne, (BB was also) the symbol of the French Republic seen on French coins and stamps.
In private life the Grand Dame of French cinema prefers the French cuisine and eating well: “I could have never been a model in the way actresses today are expected to be; I have never been thin enough because I love a wonderful meal at the end of the day with a good burgundy. I try to be careful but I am not American- she told in an interview- so that I am not always worrying about calories and working out. I have no fear of aging until I am able to work. My mother turned 100 this year (in 2012). She lives alone in Paris; very independent and she is quite incredible. She has a very good head; she still plays bridge, she still wins. So longevity may be in my genes but I don’t know if I will live to be 100 because I have not had the same lifestyle as my mother (she has never smoked but I do)”. Catherine’s favorite:

Carbonnade with olives

This beef stew is known for its Mediterranean touch, combination of olives, onions and bay leaves. Any olives would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day after it’s made.

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 pounds beef flatiron or blade steaks, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide, Salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups thickly sliced onions, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, chopped parsley, for garnish croquette, 12 black or green olives (be careful with the salt)

In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, (3 minutes per side). Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender. Uncover and transfer the meat to a bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and croquette or pommes duchesse. 
























My second encounter with the Indian culture

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When we parted at London airport, we promised that we would look for each other when we return to Munich. And we kept our promising, which was even simpler than we thought, because it turned out that Bharti’s husband worked at the same university, where my husband, and on the top of that they even lived nearby from us in a leafy area in a beautiful detached house.

Our second encounter took place in the university buffet. It was a cold day in March so to my regret instead of her turqoise sari, Bharti showed up in a jeans and a T-shirt but looked radiant. After getting our hot chocolate, we sat in the bar’s black and white lounge into a comfortable rocking chair. „And what are your first impressions of München?”-I opened our chit-chat with that familiar question. -Well, compared to India the weather is of course colder, but at least not as much rain falls and the sky is really a “Bavarian” blue. In Munich everyone is friendly, helpful and speaks good English, so it helps to adapt easily. We love our home, with 6 rooms, and the landlady is very motherly, she invites me almost every day for a daily afternoon tea with a cake.- So, all well and good, and absolutely positive! I am sincerely happy for you.- And aren’t you bored at home? -Oh no, no, no- she shook her head -because now we are in our honemoon- she said and blushed.- My husband always comes home for lunch, then after eating we can take a nap. Do you mind if I spoke about this?- she asked me again.- Oh no, if you do not mind!- because I knew how hard it was to find a confidential friend when I moved to Belgium, far from the family and old friends. -And something has changed in your relationship since your wedding?- Oh, yes, yes, yes!- she repeated vigorously.- I feel I am in love with my husband,-she said pressing the world-. Well, then I’m so happy for you and I invited her and her „other half” to a dinner on Friday next week.

When I opened the door and saw behind Bharti’s shoulder her husband, I immediately recognized him of the picture of their wedding’s pillow. He was small, physiquely slim, had a little mustache under his nose, what made his boyish look older and was paler-skinned than his wife. -Meet Vaibhao-introduced us Bharti her husband and after some formal greeting phrases we led them to our living room.

As the husband was talkative on the nice way, as taciturn was Bharti in the presence of her husband, later I figured out that this is one of the important teachings of Hinduism. A woman should be silent in the presence of her husband! (How many Hungarian husband fancied that teaching, and broke his arms and legs to rush to India to pick up the Hindu religion or rather a Hindu wife!) Vaibhao talked about his work how he’s dealing with the neurological research (Alzheimer) in the institute, and then he diverted the converse into his root, so we had learned that that he had already been the second-middle-class generation from his family. Meanwhile he was talking I realized that we have no idea about people’s struggles in India where parents pay high price to educate their children for a better future and behind someone’s degree there is an the incredible self-sacrifice, but in Europe as people live better living condition children don’t appreciate the effort of their parents that much!

After dinner when we all sat comfortably in our living room the word turned on the marriage in Indian style. The rest of the guests were PHD students, about the age of late twenty or early thirty, (so it was an exciting topic ) but we, my husband and I also listened with great interest to his sayings about one of the oldest culture. He said that before he had met Bharti, he did not have much experience, because virginity is required not only for women but also applies to men. By the time Peter, a 28 years old Hungarian guy, interrupted him and proposed the next question: -and how do men repress their sexual desires, when they are excited?- Vaihbao replied that there are for the Kama Sutra and there are chapters for men to practice their temperance.

As I listened to that men and women’s lives are governed by the Hindu doctrines, I started not to agree what I heard. Does it make any good if Indian people live their lives among a lot of prohibitions, which are really required by Hinduism, Buddhism? Okay, do not eat cattle, do not drink alcohol, do not use drugs they are not at all bad things, I mean I have no difficulty to comply, but I had a feeling that women had to live in their houses to accept a non-stop family service, but the question is does it fill in their expectations of married life? But after a second thought I realized that maybe it does because firstly these are the principals of the Indian culture meaning that the Indian women are happy to bear their fates, (and also because of the limited work possibilities) secondly they are brought up being less assertive, less self-centered than the Europeans and they live not for making a career, but for a happy marriage.

-And is there prostitution?- asked curiously a German student. What will happen to one who breaks the rules prescribed by society? For my great surprise Bharti took the floor:-Well the society cast them, those women who are virgin going to get married, but if someone gets pregnant, better lose one’s fortune than one’s honor because of the exclusion is equal to the death. Without a man, family and friends a woman will starve.- Hearing that I added that it happened the same to a woman about 100 years ago in Europa-, when a woman got pregnant before tying a knot in the altar was condemned and casted out.

Then for a counter example Bharti brought on a popular English movie: A Tale of Love which was one of my favourite movie as well, a fine carefully told tragedy in the context of 16th century India. It portrays a woman’s plight in that time, the question is marry or be a courtesan in a harem. A bit ellaborate: the plot is the tale of two girls, Maya and Tara, one is a lowly servant, the other is a noble princess, both raised together as children. They are best friends but Tara forever reminds Maya of her subordinate position. Though her striking beauty and her skills of seduction learnt through the Kama Sutra, the Indian book of love, Maya exacts her revenge on Tara by seducing her husband, the maharaja the sole heir on her wedding day thus it is the beginning of a destructive struggle for power where revenge is the goal, but the outcome is a tragedy. 

-Congratulation! You have won our “case” because Maya’s way of thinking and her deeds were indeed like a 21st century modern woman’s. -So I lost!-I repeated and she accepted that with a great laugh.

Being accepted at the Five lakes region or a clinic for menthal health

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On one day my GP, who is also my best friend, confessed that she was hesitating for long time whether she had to become a psychiatrist, or a general practitioner, and finally opted for the latter. But she has never abandoned the old love of psychiatry because she works twice a week in a mental institution. That was the first time when I heard of the psychiatric clinic in Gauting.

Well, since I’m also a journalist, have been translating articles on psychological topics for years, I started to interested in the thing. I turned to my physician friend for help and she finally arranged to participate in the psychiatric institute programs in January 2009. I was ready for the challenge and after the permission of my GP my name was put on a waiting list for a vacant bed. When everything had come together I was got a phonecall that I could go there. When I arrived in Gauting it was a very cold, gloomy January morning. At the entrance door I was admitted through an electric gate, then, I just could go on accompanied by a nurse from the grade. Then the C grade doctor, a young woman, (perhaps freshly graduated), interviewed me whether I am taking a sedative, antidepressant etc, so if yes then I had to give them to the nurse, who may return only when it is necessary. I reassured her that I do not live in any drugs, and I do not have any medicine with me then I was allowed to go to my room.

The nurce introduced me a 3-beds room, what I would share with two young female patients. A 35-year-old and another one in her early twenties. Well, I’ll stay with them for three days-I thought-. First I surveyed the scene: the bed was comfortable, the room was spacious, the bathroom was clean and quite large. At the kitchen free tea, coffee, biscuits were available to the patients any time.

Then Dr KH was interested in “my pathologycal past,” so that she inquired me privatly and jotted down everything. Then she handed me a schedule, which included the so-called Ergotherapy treatment programs, such as, sports, music, ceramics, drawing, etc. At the same time I was handed a green card, which meant I was freely to leave the building whenever I want, or I could go home to sleep and I could come back, anyway, the most important thing was that I should always show my card at the main entrance. I unpacked my things, and got acquaintanced to the room mates. The 35-year-old woman looked very weak. She had suffered from insomnia already for one and a half years. She was a kind, intelligent woman, as it turned out later, married and had an 8 year-old girl. Before her problem started she had worked as a bank clerk. She had a red card, which meant that she was not allowed to leave the building just only accompanied by a greencard person, because due to her insomnia accident can happen and the institution is responsible for it.

The other girl, was admitted to the clinic at the request of her mother. She was strange and frenzy, her rages started a year ago after the death of her father. I think that in spite of the favorable external look she was in much worse state than the lady with insomnia. Her mood swings were really scarry.

After arranging my things, blood was taken (for what reason!?), then I checked the schedule and chose a program something called Chee Kong, just because it started the earliest. The C grade nurse informed me that the therapy rooms and other places are located on the ground floor. I had only few minutes to catch the gym course so I ran like a “crazy” and entered into the small room, where a middle-aged Asian woman had already begun the training. She wore a traditional pink silk dress. When I looked around I perceived that all ages were represented in the room, but what I also noticed that many of the participants were foreigners, Turks, Arabic, Asian, young and old as well. The therapy lasted for 60 minutes, consisted different patterns of movement. To be honest I did not enjoy it, firstly because I missed the music, secondly to freeze in various postures didn’t replace for a good pilate or other body styling. But perhaps I felt that way because I have been a member of a sport’s club for four years. After lunch we went for a walk with my roommate who was struggling with the sleep disturbance, and after being checked out at the entrance door we had been given the permission to leave. Susanna, that was the name of the young woman, started to talk about how her insomnia started it all:

About two years ago she and her husband took part in a trip to the Caribbean Sea, without their child so in the beginning it was like a second honeymoon. All well was and good, except for the nights, because for their bad luck the engine were placed next to their room. Well Susanna couldn’t sleep the entire maritime journey. When she returned to Munich, she was even more exhausted than before the holiday but she had not yet thought about her life that came trough. The sleepless nights and weary days and her life became more and more miserable. Morning she was captured by the anxiety, the fear of the coming evening. And so it was going like that for a couple of months and she started to develop problems in the autonomic nervous system, fast pulse, cold feet and arms, weight loss, memory loss, loss of appetite, until one day, she collapsed at her workplace. She was taken to the hospital where she had been sedated medically, later she was sent to an other insitute where doctors wanted her to give up the drugs. Since in the Gauting institute psychiatrists and psychologists are available to the patients, I asked her- „Have they already begun to implement the therapy?” She responded quietly –„Yes I get once every 2 weeks!- Holy God, I exlaimed. I think you need a therapy every day, at least until it turns out what did cause your disturbed sleep?- The poor woman just nodded, -Yes, yes, I should do something”.

The way back I was wondering what could have happened to her in the ship in the Caribbean, what trauma hit her? I am not a Dr Jung nor Freud, but I studied 2 and a half years of psychology in college and I had learned that there is an exploitation therapy, with it is possible to help people. Since Susanna was an introverted type, I could imagine that if she went through in some trauma, such as her husband cheated on her, or she was raped, or other horrors happened, instead of talking about it, she would respond to it with punishing her body and soul. But what kind of husband she has who could leave her wither away!

In the afternoon I participated in an other ergotherapy, a dance lession. The evening meal was distributed at 5 pm, and then you could follow again by your choice of programs. The TV was out of another room, but I did not enroll for watching at, so at 8 pm I entered my room. I saw Susanna lying in her bed and turning over magazines. She looked worn out. Whenever we started conversation she always returned to her sleeping disturbances.  It seemed that she was not really present in the room, only her thin body, because every thought of hers revolved around the fear of the night. Then her husband called her on the phone. After the conversation she made a sad remark that she had not seen her daughter for weeks, but finally she came into the conclusion it was a better way, because when her daughter visited her she felt estranged from her.

Around eleven o’clock the lights died out in the hallway. I tried to fall asleep, but the new impressions occupied my thought too much so finally I succeeded around one o’clock. The next day I was tired, but  Susanna woke up with a fresh face and said that after our conversation she took an upbeat mood and slept relatively well. Might I am a better therapist than those who are working here?

But the young girl, Kathrine’s rage started again, she kicked her bed, cursed her mother, and then when she started screaming, I decided to take an act. Who knows what is going on in her mind, she might attack me with a pillow and suffocate me, or stab with a knife. I hope that the doctors are aware of her condition. In order to prevent a tragedy I called the doctor who was on duty and reported what was going on. She came running, and when she saw Kathrien, sent us out of the room. What did she do with her, it remains a secret, but at the breakfast Kathrien was grinning like she won the jackpot. She was a Lisbeth Salander kind of girl, from the Millennium’s  wild, but basically not obnoxious. Perhaps at the threshold of adulthood she suffered some trauma, such as the death of her father. Or her mother brought home a new man? Who knows?

The second day passed in the same way: with gym, walking, talking to the doctor (she dealt with us individually for 10 minutes), and then she proposed to us diligently don’t forget to collect points for the activities. As if that would help resolve the emotional troubles! I was fuming. But I was glad for Susanna who had finally got an appointment for medical treatment.

In the afternoon I went for a walk again and I met a nice, middle-aged woman called Eve. She lived near the clinic, but usually slept in here because of her husband worked in India, and her adult son lived in Switzerland, so the nearly 60 year-old woman was left all alone in a large family house. The menopause hit her with a rather severe depression and for already five years she had better or worse phases. In the past she owned a decoration shop in downtown Munich, but she closed it 2 years ago and since then she found herself in a kind of vacuum. “But why don’t you join to India to your husband, I asked her?” Then you wouldn’t be so alone. -It turned out that she had already tried to live there, but her husband was working all day, (which of course is completely normal), so there she was alone as well. Her only companion was a househelp who did the shopping, but she left the country also because of the poor standard of living. I would rather suffer from the depression than live over there-she added.

The third day had sat in, the last one (I would be lying if I said that, I felt sorry). I looked for an interesting program, and I had found the music therapy. When I went downstair there was only one guy who subscribed to the program, a tall, handsome Mediterranean looking man, with oily brown skin, grayish-black hair. I was surprized by the poor attendance, because it’s well known that, how music lovers the Germans were, but this time anyone else did not seem interested in music. The teacher, Charlotte was a vivid, middle-aged woman. First we tried out African musical instruments in terms of the sound, then she handed out us a printed sheet of music, an American gospel. She made a presentation first then it was our turns.  My partner started to sing with his wonderful bass voice, I followed him with my mezzosoprano’s, and the teacher was accompanied us on the piano. Becuse of the emotions tears were coming out. When the music therapy was over, my partner approached me and curiously asked what nationality I was. When I said that I am Hungarian, he laughed loudly and continued the conversation in Hungarian. It turned out that he had lived for 30 years in Munich and was a restaurant owner, but when just several years ago was diagnosed with liver cancer, he closed his restaurant, and moved back to Hungary. In Tápiószőllő (a little village near Budapest) he bought a house, opened a small restaurant and ever since he had been living there with a German friend. But once every year he is back here for detoxification. We switched emails then I checked out from the institute and returned home.

And now I’m sitting at home front of my computer and trying to process, assemble, evaluate the experiences.

Studying at home the institute’s website I figured out that since it was founded in 1956, had gone many changings. In a nutshell: the first seat of the clinic was located in a mountain road in Gauting but in 2001 the Psychiatry Clinic center  moved to the city. The hospital building was completely renovated so it became a modern, architecturally appealing hospital, which clearly stands out from the existing standard Psychiatry.
Since 2004, the hospital has an outpatient department, which also acts as an emergency ambulance and patients can come and go 24 hours, so can work round the clock care..
Both the department heads and staff are committed to providing the patient an atmosphere of security and safety that makes it easier for them to engage with doctors and therapists. Their aim to try to reduce or even eliminate drug treatments, and just turn to them when drugs are absolutely necessary.