This week, I thought that I would share something that recently dawned on me, for a second time. I used to live in France, so I am familiar with not only the French language, but also the traditions and customs. I thought about how many of the people I met during my time in France shared the same interests that I did, and how we had more in common than I would have originally thought. This realization was reinforced this week when I looked at some drawings done by my assistant, Kate. She also used to live in France, and she once received an adult coloring book as a gift. The theme is Disney, and the book is appropriately named “trompe-l’œil”, which translates in English to “optical illusion.”
The way it works is the artist begins drawing a certain image, which they think is one Disney Character in particular. However, upon filling in all the colors, you realize that the drawing is of a different character entirely. For example, you start with an outline of Tinkerbell (La Fée Clochette in French) and you end up with Alice in Wonderland (Alice au Pays des Merveilles) This is not only an enjoyable and relaxing activity; it shows how those in other places profit from the same things we do. It turns out that a love of art and Disney is universal.
Today is “La Chandleur”. This holiday dedicated to eating crêpes takes place on February 2nd every year. Not everyone in France celebrates La Chandleur (which I don’t really understand; who would want to miss out on an excuse to eat crêpes? ) La Chandleur has its origins in the Roman festival “Lupercales” when as part of their celebration the Romans ate (you guessed it!) crêpes! For a great article on La Chandleur’s history and relationship to Groundhog Day go to http://french.about.com/od/culture/a/chandeleur.htm?r=et
Meanwhile, here is my recipe for crêpes:
One cup of flour
Two cups of milk
A half cup of sugar
A teaspoon of vanilla
Mix these ingredients together and refrigerate them for at least a half hour (The batter will last for days in the refrigerator if you don’t finish it all right away). Place a (large!) pat of butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Pour about half a ladle of batter into the bottom of the saucepan. Swirl the saucepan so that the batter covers the bottom evenly. Cook over medium heat until small bubbles start to form beneath the crêpe. Lightly separate the edges of the crêpe from the sides of the saucepan with the spatula, flip the crêpe and cook other the other side. Please note: This sounds complicated but in fact is extremely simple. The measurements are approximate and it is easy to tell when the bottom side of the crêpe is cooked. The first few times you flip your crêpes you might want to do so in the pan with your spatula, but even flipping crêpes in the air is not difficult. The secret to that is using lots and lots of butter so that the crêpes won’t stick to the pan. Bon appétit et Joyeuse Chandleur!
So much has changed over this past year. I have hired an assistant for the first time, and we will welcome an intern all the way from Reims this summer. There is so much we are excited to share with you, and we hope that our pages will familiarize you with what we do. Our mission is to teach French to students of all ages, and meet their needs however we can.
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In honor of (soon to officially arrive) fall here are three tarte tatin recipes. The first is from RecettesTV, a YouTube channel run by a fun and talented French host. The second two are from Jamie Oliver. It might seem a bit sacrilegious to post videos of an English chef cooking a French dish but I am a little in love with Jamie Oliver…and his banana tarte tatin is divine…
I have had the privilege of teaching Mathieu French for almost two years now. He is hands down the hardest worker I have ever had; he has studied more than five hours a night on many occasions…for weeks on end! He has revolutionized the heights I believe it is possible for a student to achieve with self-study. I have never taught the likes of him in twenty-four years! He has also taught me a wealth of things about technology and its applications in foreign language study. Continue reading “Free Resources For Learning French”