When Rusty and Kit arrived in Paris, buying and eating food in Paris, whether from a patisserie or in a brasserie or a café was a novelty. They documented the food they ate as well as their dining experiences in their letters to family back home in the U.S. Rusty wrote:
Everyday you meet people in the parks or walking down the streets who have a small loaf of bread; they just tear off pieces and eat it as they go. Wonderful!
Here’s a description, in their words, of what they ate in France:
For breakfast: eggs, bacon, French bread, coffee.
For lunch: always French bread, fruit, brie, tomato, a French pastry or patisserie.
For dinner: ham sandwiches, onion soup, French steak with green beans, salad, French fried potatoes and a peach. And for dessert: café au lait.
From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.
The French onion soup Rusty tasted in Paris during The Tucker – Tyler Adventure was so good that she talked about it years later and told friends going to Paris that they must stop at La Pergola, a restaurant in Paris, for a bowl of their French onion soup. Rusty wrote:
The dinner was quite good, particularly the onion soup; magnificent flavor – many onions, thick crusty top and wonderful cheese – the best I have ever tasted anywhere!!!
While I don’t have the recipe for the onion soup Rusty ate during her first visit to Paris, I found this recipe online for a “classic French onion soup” adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Classic French Onion Soup recipe. I made it the other night and imagined myself sitting at a table at a cafe in Paris, listening to “La Vie en Rose.” Oh, and this recipe was by far, the best French onion soup I have tasted anywhere!
To learn about the travels of Rusty and Kit, read The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.
Before docking in Southampton, England, the Queen Mary stopped in Cherbourg, France, long enough for Rusty and Kit to disembark on the Continent on September 13, 1954. After dreaming about it for a year (or longer!), the two young women were finally in Europe.
Although the girls had certainly read about and seen footage of Cherbourg, they were impressed by the destruction still remaining almost 10 years later after the War. Located in France’s Normandy region on the northwest coast of France, Cherbourg was occupied by the Germans from 1940 until June 1944. The battle in Cherbourg began on June 6, 1944, when Allied troops landed on the beaches east of Cherbourg, but it wasn’t until June 27, 1944, that Cherbourg was liberated from the Germans.
Though over 10 years had passed, Rusty and Kit saw signs of the battles as they traveled by train through Normandy. Rusty wrote:
And in some beautiful farm, one building would be lying in crumbled stone with perhaps one wall standing, and we realized that here had been War. Bombs. Men slipping through the beautiful countryside to throw hand grenades at a building harboring the enemy. Fear. It sent chills through us.
From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler and edited by Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.
Photo from PhotosNormandie and Storm Crypt licensed by CC 2.0.
What movies did Kit and Rusty possibly see in the early 1950s that might have inspired or influenced them before their trip to Europe? While I was writing and editing The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, I decided to go to the movies.
Rusty’s letters home were often sprinkled with the names of the movies Rusty and Kit saw while in Paris or Rome or even on the Queen Mary. Rusty wrote to her mother:
We walked down steps then to the very edge of the Seine. Remember in An American in Paris when Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron danced at nite along the river? And they came down the steps leading to the street, to this wide cobblestone way beside the Seine? – There we were!
I discovered that a lot of the “classic movies” I’d already seen were filmed in the 50s. Movies like Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland (1951), Singing in the Rain (1952), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954).
So I watched the movies that Rusty and Kit wrote about: An American in Paris (1951) where two friends fall in love with the same woman in Paris; Roman Holiday (1953) where a princess falls in love with an American newsman in Rome; and Three Coins in a Fountain (1954) where an American young woman falls in love with an Italian prince in Rome.
Next time you’re looking for a movie to rent, consider traveling abroad in the 1950s and view one of the movies Rusty and Kit watched.
From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.