SHARE
COPY LINK

SCOTLAND

French hero Asterix returns in Scottish antics

Iconic French comic book hero Asterix made his long-awaited return on Thursday with "Asterix and the Picts", the first new volume in eight years. The 35th installment of the series started in 1959 takes Asterix and Obelix on an adventure in ancient Scotland, of all places.

French hero Asterix returns in Scottish antics
Iconic French comic book hero Asterix made his long-awaited return on Thursday with "Asterix and the Picts", the first new volume in eight years. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

Five million copies of "Asterix and the Picts" – the 35th installment in a series that has become a publishing juggernaut – were released on Thursday in 15 countries and 23 languages, after months of anticipation.

The Gallic duo's latest adventures take them for the first time to ancient Scotland, with the new edition's cover depicting Obelix in full caber toss as a winking Asterix sits nearby.

Two million copies were printed for France and another three million for foreign audiences, including copies in Scots Gaelic.

The Asterix series – created by illustrator Albert Uderzo and writer Rene Goscinny in 1959 – is a bestseller in the comic book world, with 352 million copies sold worldwide and translations in more than 110 languages and dialects.

It features the adventures of an indomitable tribe of Gauls resisting Roman occupation, often with the help of a Druid-brewed magic potion that grants them superhuman strength.

The series has been adapted into four live-action films and is the inspiration for a popular theme park, Parc Asterix, outside Paris.

The latest edition is the work of writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad, and is the first not written and illustrated by one of the series' original creators.

Uderzo, who took over the writing when Goscinny died in 1977, announced in 2011 that he would no longer be drawing the series.

The 86-year-old did supervise production of the latest book however, and drew the Obelix featured on the cover.

Don't miss a story about France – Join us on Facebook and Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOD & DRINK

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

More than six billion baguettes are baked each year in France and UNESCO has now inscribed the tradition in its “intangible cultural heritage” list.

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

The French baguette – one of the country’s most abiding images – was given world heritage status by UNESCO on Wednesday, the organisation announced.

READ ALSO French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

Here are some of the more popular theories:

Napoleon’s Bread of War
The oldest tale has the baguette being kneaded by bakers in Napoleon’s army. Less bulky than a traditional loaf, the long slim shape of the baguette made it faster to bake in brick ovens hastily erected on the battlefield.

France’s most famous man of war was preoccupied with getting his men their daily bread.

During his Russian campaign in 1812, he toured the ovens daily to sample the day’s offering and ensure the crusty batons were being distributed regularly, according to historian Philippe de Segur.

He also had portable bread mills sent to occupied Moscow, but the setbacks suffered by the Grande Armee in one of the deadliest military campaigns in history ended his bid to export the doughy staple.

Viennese connection
Another theory has the baguette starting out in a Viennese bakery in central Paris in the late 1830s.

Artillery officer and entrepreneur August Zang brought Austria’s culinary savoir-faire to Paris in the form of the oval-shaped bread that were standard in his country at the time.

According to the Compagnonnage des boulangers et des patissiers, the French bakers’ network, Zang decided to make the loaves longer to make them easier for the city’s breadwomen to pluck from the big carts they pushed through the city’s streets.

Breaking bread
Another theory has the baguette being born at the same time as the metro for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

People from across France came to work on the underground and fights would often break out on site between labourers armed with knives, which they used to slice big round loaves of bread for lunch.

According to the herodote.net history site, to avoid bloodshed, one engineer had the idea of ordering longer loaves that could be broken by hand.

Early rising
In 1919, a new law aimed to improve the lives of bakers by banning them from working from 10 pm to 4 am.

The reform gave them less time to prepare the traditional sourdough loaf for the morning, marked the widespread transition to what was called at the
time the yeast-based “flute”, which rose faster and was out of the oven in under half an hour.

Standardised at 80 centimeters (30 inches) and 250 grams (eight ounces) with a fixed price until 1986, the baguette was initially the mainstay of wealthy metropolitans, but after World War II became the emblem of all French people.

SHOW COMMENTS