I've found when people learn that you collect something (say, matchbooks) more pour in. It's like a memory association trick. Now you have your network thinking of you when they see the item you collect and often, start collecting for you.
Throughout my years of being a dedicated phillumenist , I've had so many friends, family, business partners and yes, even kind strangers send me matchbooks. Anytime I find one that especially catches my eye, I love to learn more about the place. Were they known for a signature dish? Did a retro movie star love to frequent? You can learn a lot about history through matchbooks. I know, nerd alert!
This gifted Maison Gerard matchbook caught my eye instantly. It had me at French cuisine, Beverly Hills and the adorable vintage graphic featuring a poodle. I had to find out, is this place still open?
In my "research" *enter Google* I learned this place had been one of the finest French restaurants in Los Angeles in the 50s, but had later closed, the reason still unknown to me. Its owner, Gerard "Gerry" Uzan was born in Tunis, Tunisia (A country in North Africa for my fellow friends who are still actively studying geography.)
Gerard emigrated to the United States in 1947 with $50 in his pocket and assistance from an American sponsor he had met while helping US troops in Tunis. He worked in diamond sales, until his best friend Robert Robaire joined him in Los Angeles. Robaire opened a French restaurant and Gerard worked closely with him, learning the restaurant world. Soon after, he opened his own restaurant: Maison Gerard.
The most common reoccurring theme while diving down this rabbit hole about Maison Gerard was the French onion soup. It had quite a reputation. I even came across this article in the Los Angeles Times:
Today I'm in sunny California, but I know my New Yorkers at home are having a rainy spring day. What better meal to craft for staying in? Here's the recipe that LA Times writer Rose Dosti provided to her reader in distress:
FRANCOIS’ ONION SOUP AU GRATIN
Makes 6 servings.
INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup oil
3 large onions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon flour
6 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon dry white wine
2 small bay leaves
Pinch salt and pepper
6 slices French bread, toasted
6 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese
Heat oil over medium-high heat in soup pot. Add onions and sauté until browned.
Add flour, mixing until smooth, and cook until flour is lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add stock, wine, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook until onions are soft, about 20 minutes.
Correct seasoning. Ladle soup into 1 large or 6 individual earthenware crocks. Top crock with bread slices and cover with cheese. If using individual crocks, top each with 1 slice bread and 1 tablespoon cheese. Broil until golden and bubbly.
Each serving contains about:
336 calories; 903 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 27 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 0.41 gram fiber,