Monday, October 24, 2011


Hello All!

I hadn't written in a while so I thought I would send along some pictures of what we've been making. We just finished week five and I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by. Tomorrow we switch with the morning group so we will be starting with Chef Baccon, a four foot tall Korean woman who couldn't weigh more than a potato chip. She's about as sweet as can be and is extremely talented. I am looking forward to the change since our other chef, Chef Leroy, who was undeniably french and a bit...frustrating...was lovable but not the best of teachers. He could be quite confusing and his pronunciation of English words often led to a few lost in translation moments, (air sounds like hair, wrap like wahp and so on). I am also looking forward to the earlier mornings. We will now be starting at 6 am instead of 1pm. I'm used to much earlier hours since working in bread and am anticipating getting a lot more done with all the time I will have after class, especially considering that most of the shops close by 8pm around here, which was when the afternoon class usually ended up getting out...if we were lucky! It also means that I will get a chance at cooking dinner one night for everyone, and I plan on something very American like macaroni and cheese and fried chicken, everyone is quite excited about it. 

I had my birthday here a few days ago and all of my new friends were absolutely wonderful about it. We didn't do too much, just went to a dinner at the local pizza joint, but they all were quite concerned that I have a good time. Chef Leroy even sent me out of class on my actual birthday on a wild goose chase and, to my horror, when I returned they had turned off all of the lights and had placed and lit candles in a lemon cake we had made that day and sang me "Happy Birthday!" All of the people in my group pitched in to buy me a set of six miny cocottes (tiny casserole pots) in a rainbow of colors and they are absolutely adorable! 
Prior to my birthday, I came out of class one day to find a little mangy dog wandering around the campus. This is quite normal in France since people seem to let their dogs roam free and apparently they return home when they are done with the personal canine affairs. I gave him a bit of my brioche and he followed me home. Everyone in our apartment (who are all in the same group as I am) were thrilled to have a bit of excitement for the evening. We named him Amande (for almond, since he looked like Creme d'amande) and fed him more brioche, cured beef, scrambled eggs, and whatever else we had around, including a bit of foie gras. He was one of the happiest dogs I've ever seen, and followed me around quite contently. I made a small bed for him the corner of my room, since it was too late to take him back to the school that evening, and while he obviously would have rather cuddled under the sheets with me (he was absolutely disgusting, or I would have been all for it), he was managed to make himself at home in no time. He returned with me to school the next day and waited outside the door for a short while, but when I was finished with class eight hours later he had gone on his own way. I haven't seen him since, but I'm sure he probably returned home. He made me miss my own pets quite a lot, and if he had been there when I emerged from lab I certainly was planning on adopting him, after taking him to the local groomer, and was wondering how difficult it was to get a dog back into the US. 
I have been struggling a bit with my French and it seems to be the most ridiculous language. I can't understand why they include all of these letters that they have no intention of pronouncing, and our French teacher won't teach us the basic rules of grammar because apparently they rarely apply. I am hoping that now that I have my computer back up and running I will be able to continue with my Rosetta Stone and, at the very least, improve my pronunciation. But one of the guide books we read said that French men find women with American accents as irresistible as we find French men with French accents, so perhaps I will not try too hard. I just hope I learn enough by the time I go to my internship so that I can bumble around the kitchen and learn as much as I can. I expect to learn more in my internship than in the five months I spend here so I pray that my French will be good enough to get as much out of it as I can. 

It's been quite gloomy and rainy here the last few days, but I have aways loved a good storm and it reminds me of winters in San Rafael. It also encourages me to stay inside and get some studying done, which I should probably go do now! 
Wishing all of you the best!


See! At least at one point I was optimistic about my internship. But reality has set in and while I know I'm always going to be happy that I've done this, I still think I'm going to end it early and research/visit/enjoy Paris while I'm here. 

Of course all that french studying didn't really happen. Sure I got through a few levels of Rosetta Stone but I'm much better at procrastinating than doing. But working in the kitchen has definitely helped to improve my kitchen french at the very least. Plus as we got further along in the pastry program, Chef Baccon was particularly helpful in immersing us in french language. She really is an incredible person and I am so lucky that I got to study under her. Truth be told I appreciate both of my chefs and now that I'm in the kitchen I can see how much they really did teach me. 

As for Amande, like any one night stand he was never seen from again. It was quite sad, actually, and I looked for him every day on my walk home. I guess he just went back to his people. Still it was a fun night and I enjoyed his company. I miss my own pets so much that it was nice to get to have some dog bonding, even if it was with stolen property. 

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