Thursday, July 10, 2008


Here is a photo of the strawberries, les fraises du bois, that became jam or confiture. I did put two bowls of them on the breakfast table Sunday morning, as an extra treat for the guests. Not one single berry was left! These are the sweetest, most flavorful strawberries I've ever eaten. In order to turn them into jam, we capped them, put them in a big, heavy bottomed pot and covered them with sugar (1/3 lb.). We let them sit for about 12 hours and then cooked them. The sugar releases the juice from the berries. We put some on the table for breakfast Monday morning and put the rest in jars. I offered to trade a jar to Didier in exchange for a painting he has in his antique shop. He pretended not to understand my French at that point. So much for bargaining... Can't blame a girl for trying, n'est-ce pas?
Last night, Chef Érick and I returned to Snack Voltaire for dinner around 9:00 pm. I had taureau (one of the previously mentioned black bulls, although I don't know if was a Spanish one or a French one) and frites (French fries). It was my first steak since arriving in France. It was quite good. I had a glass of house red wine to go with it.
We struck up a conversation with a couple sitting nearby after the gentleman noticed the Durham Academy t-shirt Érick was wearing. My students gave it to him when we came to Arles in March. The man was British and curious about Durham. His wife is originally from California and they are in Arles for the Rencontres de Photos this week. He and Érick exchanged business cards and he told us that they hope to launch a website soon for travelers who want to do things off the beaten track in France. He was very interested in the cooking lessons Chef Érick offers. I was very impressed with his French. His wife was less proficient, but they live in a small village north of here and have learned French by talking to their neighbors. She said that when they are home, she goes out to the café each morning and forces herself to speak French. I think that if people get over being afraid to open their mouths and realize that it is okay to make mistakes, speaking French is so much more enjoyable. The French are very understanding and appreciate the effort you go to to speak to them in their own language.

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