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Elena Meyer

See more by Elena Meyer

food / travel

Butter Beware, Olive Oil Is Conquering French Kitchens

Spanish, Italian, Greek, Provençal: in the land of butter and cream, olive oil is all the rage! Buoyed by the wave of the Mediterranean diet, demand has soared in recent years. But production is threatened by drought in Spain, the world's leading producer.

PARIS — It's more than just a fat. Nor even a seasoning or condiment. For its growing number of aficionados, olive oil is an object of desire, if not of worship.

"It's all anyone around me ever talks about," laughs Emmanuelle Dechelette, a former public relations professional turned olive oil sommelier . "My friends, my husband's friends, everyone consults me or asks me if I can find them this or that particular cuvée. Sometimes I feel like a ' drug dealer .'"

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After completing a diploma course in New York, in 2016 Emmanuelle created an international competition, Olio Nuovo Days , which has gradually established itself as one of the benchmarks. Producers flock from all over the world to take part, from France , Spain , Sicily , Greece , Tunisia and Lebanon , as well as Japan , Chile , Brazil and South Africa .

"Right now, without my oil La Couvée, produced in Slovenia and 2023 champion for the Northern Hemisphere, I feel like I couldn't live," says the sommelier, who likes to savor this juice simply, on a toasted baguette, a fine tomato or with fresh goat's cheese. For her, if a dish isn't flavored with olive oil, it's missing something. The elegant Dechellette consumes it without moderation: "When you say olive oil, you mean olive, not oil. It's a fruit, so it's not fatty!”

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Chiara Ferragni, The Italian Exception That Proves The Influencer Rule

For some with communication skills and charisma, likes on social media can turn into lavish earnings. But influencers face a crisis of trust, as well as algorithms that often discriminate — particularly against women.


TURIN — There may be difficult years ahead for social media influencers. Having lost some of their shine as creators of authentic, personal content, unswayed by advertising dollars, they may need to reinvent themselves to stay on top and get paid.

But for now, they're holding on with audiences who may trust them less, but still follow along, as if watching a soap opera .

There are many kings in this ranking of social superstars, but there is only one undisputed queen: Chiara Ferragni , with not only her own followers (29.5 million) but also those of her relatives, from her husband Fedez (14.7 million), to her sisters Francesca and Valentina, her mother Marina Di Guardo and her children, the little stars, Leone and Vittoria.

It's a real family business, which can be seen in the series about their lives, "Ferragnez." Alone, her fortune is estimated at $40 million.

Some argue that the rise of influencer marketing stems from the crisis of elites, who feel less and less relevant to many people, and to the rise of populism. But the fact is that, credible or not, social media stars continue to be passionate, and reflect the opportunity we all want and could have in life, like so many Cinderellas, graced with communication skills and charisma.

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food / travel

Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Montreal

The food and drink scene in Montreal is just as vibrant and diverse as the city itself. It's a delightful fusion of French and North American influences, resulting in a unique gastronomic experience that draws food enthusiasts from far and wide. From fresh bagels to more hearty meals — to be expected in a city where the average annual temperature stands at a modest 7.1 °C (44.8 °F) — you will find plenty to discover, be it across a plethora of restaurants or sampling local specialties in Montreal's thriving food markets.

But if you're planning on making your Canadian culinary journey a francophone one, be aware: In a twist that often confuses visitors from France , meals have different names in Québécois French. Lunchtime is "dîner’"(not "déjeuner," as in France), while dinner time is "souper" (not "dîner"). And snack-time is "collation" instead of "goûter." You'll thank us later!

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Twisting Open The Secrets Of Portugal's Cork Empire

In the hands of the same family since 1870, the world's largest producer of corks almost disappeared in the early 2000s. Today, this gem of Portuguese industry has not only reconquered its historic market, but has made cork the darling of many other sectors.

PORTO DE SANTA MARIA DA FEIRA — In the courtyard, mountains of bark await their turn before moving onto the conveyor belts. Scanned from every angle, they are distributed according to the thickness of their cork layer, before an artificial intelligence system scans them with cameras and tells robots where to drill, turning the bark into small cylinders. Nearby, a dozen human operators perform the same work by hand and eye. "Their expertise is unique, and we reserve it for our best customers," explains Carlos de Jesus, marketing director for cork company Amorim.

Once cut into perfect-looking corks, they undergo a final test. Conceiçao Loja, bending over bags ready for shipment, spots some with micro-defects. "Does it change the quality of the wine? No. But if you're a prestigious château, you expect everything to be perfect," proudly says the technician with 37 years' experience under her belt.

It's impossible to miss the factories along the 25 kilometers that separate Porto, Portugal from Santa Maria da Feira, Amorim's stronghold. Similar to the one we surveyed on this March morning, they're everywhere, churning out over 6 billion corks a year, which is half of the world's entire production. But wine and champagne houses, the company's long-standing customers, are not the only ones to benefit: from shoe soles to surfboards, insulation panels to rocket noses, stadium floors to ship decks, Amorim cork is everywhere.

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food / travel

"Does Wine Taste Different At 30,000 Feet?" The Truth About (Fine) Dining On Airplanes

On board its Paris-New York flights, France's La Compagnie is proud to offer its passengers a truly upscale gastronomic experience, with a selection of top wines. But does wine taste just as good at in the sky as it does on the ground? French daily Les Echos investigates.

PARIS — It’s quite a promise: this summer, passengers taking La Compagnie flights to New York will be treated to a gastronomic and an oenological experience of the highest order.

But how does one really taste up in the air? This question has been asked since the early days of commercial air travel, given the long-standing links between catering and aviation. As early as 1926, the French airline Air Union put a Léo H-213 "Rayon d'or" biplane into service as a restaurant plane, accommodating 12 guests on the Paris-London route. For the first time, a bartender employed by Compagnie des Wagons-Lits was on hand to serve food and beverages, including Champagne and Bordeaux wines.

As the decades went by, meal-time quickly became the highlight of the trip, thanks to aircraft improvements. The arrival of Air France's Constellation aircraft in 1946, followed by the Super Constellation in 1953, offered a whole new experience. Lobster, fine wine and a selection of meats carved right in the cabin would delight wealthy and demanding passengers.

In 1955, the American airline PanAm equipped itself with the first Boeing 707s, much faster jets, and also offered a top-of-the-range service. Maxim's signature menu and French crus, a 1953 Pouilly-Fuissé and a Saint-Emilion, the Château L'Arrosée 1952 which had just become a Grand Cru Classé.

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Behold Lunar Gateway, The Future Home Base For Human Moon Exploration

A smaller replica of the International Space Station, which will orbit the Moon from the end of 2024, is currently under construction at the Thales Alenia Space plants in Turin. A guided tour.

TURIN — Let's project ourselves into the future, leaping forward, say 10 years, to the year 2033. While we’re at it, let's also leap the 384,400 kilometers separating us from the Moon, setting course for our natural satellite's South Pole.

This is where NASA and its longstanding partners — the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency — have chosen to set up the Artemis Base Camp, to take advantage of the ice lying at the bottom of the craters and the "peaks of eternal light" provided at this latitude by a Sun that never dips below the horizon.

This base camp has already been inhabited for several years: crews of two to four astronauts take turns there at regular intervals for missions lasting 30 to 60 Earth days — but it is still spartan.

Perched on the structure of the lunar lander, and itself topped by large solar panels rising vertically to capture the grazing light of the Sun, the Lunar Surface Habitat, with its 7.8-meter height and 4.4-meter diameter, offers our intrepid "moonwalkers" merely a cramped interior space and minimal comfort. The important thing is that its inflatable envelope protects them from micrometeorites and cosmic rays.

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