In a recent phone survey of over 1,000 French adults, “Mistral gagnant” (me-stral gan-yahn), by Renaud was selected as their favorite song. How could I have never heard of France’s favorite song? Of course, I looked it up right away on Youtube and I have to concur that it’s a beautiful, soulful ballad with a lovely piano melody. You can download it here. Renaud has neither toured nor recorded for years, but the public has clearly not forgotten this song about spending time with his daughter published in 1985.
Mistral Gagnant was a type of candy that is no longer available. It was made of powdered sugar that fizzed on the the tongue in a way that was supposed to be as refreshing as the mistral wind. It was sold in a little envelope and the powder was sucked up with a black licorice straw. Some packets were marked inside with the word gagnant, or “winner” and the lucky boy or girl could trade it in for a free pack. In the song, the candy is like a Proustian madeleine that summons up Renaud’s childhood.
What candy brings back your childhood? For me it would be a Big Turk bar, a Canadian treat. My dad would buy me one for family movie night and I could make it last for a whole week – one segment a day. When I finally had real Turkish Delight, I was so disappointed! Maybe I need to write a song about it.