Friday, March 28, 2014

Dining à la française

We've come to the final unit of study in French 7.  Saving the best for last.  Food and eating.  Table-setting and shopping for food.  Dining out.  Telling 7th graders that a nice meal is a true social occasion and that this meal can last two to three hours brings some looks of disbelief to their 12- and 13-year old faces.  It makes me think of a meal I shared with Mme M in the fall of 2008 while I was visiting her during my sabbatical.  Do you have a meal that you just go back to from time to time?  With a sigh? This is one of mine.
Mme M and I have been to Les Trois Canards a few times.  Three maybe?  She was introduced to it by some colleagues, if my memory serves me right.  It's not far from where she lives in Montépilloy and Senlis, where she teaches.  It isn't far from the town of Pierrefonds with its wonderful château straight out of Robin Hood.

Back to our meal.  In order to show my students the different courses, I put together a slide show of my meal.

Amuses-bouche accompanied by Kir Royale.  Just to tickle your tastebuds, you know.

Next comes the entrée.  Don't be confused by the French use of entrée.  It is the same as hors-d'oeuvre or starter, as the Brits say. The citrus of the grapefruit marries well, as the Frenchies say, with the shrimp.  And presentation is very important.

Our wine choice, a lovely rosé.

Next the plat principal.  I chose lamb.  I am very, very fond of lamb.   (When I worked at a certain golf resort in the mountains while in college, I couldn't bear lamb night.  The smell was not one of my favorites... someone later explained that we must have been serving mutton, not lamb.  Big difference I've discovered.)

Next, in the course of a French meal, is usually a green salad dressed with vinaigrette, but since I have no photos, I suppose we didn't have that.

Fromage.  Not an appetizer in France.  The cheese cart comes around and typically you choose three different ones.  From mild to strong.  

Bread, if you wish, but the cheese is not usually smeared on bread, it is eaten with a knife and fork. Civilized.  Savored.

Next comes my students' favorite part.  Dessert.  Vanilla custard.  Dark chocolate "cup" filled with mousse.  Topped with cookies and mint leaves.

Coffee is always served after dessert, not with dessert.  I think it's because the coffee would overpower the sweet.  Just my opinion.  With the café, a couple more little treats.  Un café gourmand-type coffee. Mme P is teaching me about preparing this type of dessert-- coffee with little bite-sized desserts. They even have special plates and cups for it, of course.

We've now come to the end of the meal.  But wait.  I just happened to notice my "neighbor."  During this entire meal, she was accompanied by her dog, but I had no idea he was there.  Not one wimper or bark during the entire two hours.  So, as a reward, at the end of the meal, he got to sit on her lap.

Good boy.  Quel bon chien.

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon.  A meal with a very good friend.  The stuff memories are made of.

Santé, Mme M!

Bon appétit to good friends and good meals!

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