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AN AMERICAN ACCOUNT OF PARIS : LIVING, EATING, AND TRYING TO SPEAK FRENCH

Thursday, November 3, 2011

LETTER HOME #5: EAT AMERICA





Some of the best parts of my pastry program was the time I spent with my fellow students. We really got to know each other very well and while we may not have all gotten along at all times, we did manage to have some great moments together. This was particularly true whenever we sat around a table together. Since we were all from different countries, many of us took turns cooking traditional dishes from our homelands to share with one another. It was a fun way for people to express the pride they had in where they grew up, to open others up to comfort food they had grown up with, and a great reason for all of us to get together.

I was not above this and was more than happy to share some traditional American dishes with my peers. So I stole a table from my neighbor and commenced with a hot day over the stove.




Bon Jour!

So we have just finished our first week with the new Chef and the new, early hours. It has been absolutely amazing. Chef Baccon is probably one of my favorite people in the world and to dislike her would be about as inhuman as slaughtering a bunch of kittens. As I mentioned earlier, she's one of the tiniest people I have ever seen and watching her wield a gigantic knife is impressive to say the least. She's also immensely sweet and to top it off is an insanely talented chef and teacher. Though her english is not nearly as good as her french counterpart, she manages to be succinct and clear. She also has a light yet professional attitude about her. We tempered chocolate the last two days, which was no easy feat, and she was definitely laughing at all of our misfortune and frustration, but it was fun and lightened the mood as opposed to being cruel and mocking.



Though switching  your internal clock can be a bit tricky, and waking up at 5am instead of 11am can cause one to be exhausted and slightly grumpy, the change in times was much appreciated by all! Sure we were tired in the morning and unable to fall asleep at night, but it is wonderful to have the rest of the day to do things! Stores are open, the sun is out, and you've just finished eight hours with a minuscule, charming, Korean woman and made some beautiful candies. I am looking forward to these next few weeks and dreading the switch back. But c'est la vie!

I have begun the process of looking into my internship and thus far it appears that I will end up in Lyon. I am also interested in Aix-en-Provence (for obvious reasons) as well as Annecy, though they both have less options as far as shops and housing. I am planning on going to Lyon next weekend to check out some of the Patisserie options, and am excited to be going back to one of my favorite cities! 

One of the most wonderful parts of this trip is the fact that I have been able to meet people from all over the world and that we all have bonded to one another quite quickly. We really are a team and are always looking out for each other. One thing that we have taken upon ourselves to do is cook dinner for everyone from our native lands. Chinese night was absolutely incredible! But I'm sure part of that was due to the fact that we have more Chinese people here than anyone else, and it was quite the feast. Since this Friday the second group, myself included, was able to finish class early I decided to make everyone some good old fashioned American food. Camilla had requested fried chicken and while I should know better than to take on deep frying anything for such a large group of people (20+) I just couldn't say no for her excitement was contagious. And Suanne had asked me how to make macaroni and cheese and so I decided that that, too, would be a good representative of the states. Everything was delicious and I am thrilled that my house does not still smell like fried food this morning. I must admit that I have promised myself never, ever, ever, EVER, again to make fried chicken for that many people, but at least it went over well. My roommate, who I have not had the best relationship with (to say the least) was shocked at how I knew how to cook and wanted me to give her all of the recipes. She doesn't have the most mature palate but she certainly loved fried chicken. But who wouldn't? Perhaps the best part of the entire evening was that the star of the whole show, the recipe that every single person asked me for and swooned over was my mother's salad dressing! Since I was serving fried food and pasta slathered in cheese I decided that a little vegetation was in order and of course I had to include my mother's salad dressing. People were pouring it over everything, including the chicken, and though I was convinced at the beginning of the night that I had made too much, once the guests had left I discovered that the bowl of dressing was drained. 



Martha Stewart
cookingchanneltv.com

I'm still not sure how I managed to fit that many people in my house, but we all have this "family dinner" thing down to a science. We each bring our own plates and utensils (this has led to a few friendly battles over whose stuff is whose) and we each bring our own chairs. The person on the same floor of the party carries their dining table over and we push two of them together and have a big, long, feast. I am glad that I got mine out of the way, though I do feel that I am going to have to make Gramma Chris's chicken and noodles at some point. But perhaps I'll make it for a more exclusive crowd, just so that I'm not swamped with dishes the next day! It also is quite difficult to cook for such a group when you have limited supplies and a tiny dollhouse sized oven. But, as I said, everything turned out and as long as there's enough wine nothing can really ever go wrong. 

Next weekend my friend, Christy is going to make traditional Singapore cuisine since her boyfriend is visiting and bringing about a gallon of Singapore hot sauce with him. I'm very excited. 

American food, while not pretentious or romantic, is delicious and I realized that it's so comforting, people from all over enjoy it and crave it. So way to go USA!




Love you guys!
Lora


So I may not have ended up in Aix like I planned but when do things ever go as we plan them. It just goes to show that no matter how secure it makes me feel to plan every upcoming detail of my life, there are forces beyond my control. And really, how boring would it be if everything turned out as I expected?

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