Wednesday, January 17, 2024.
If anyone was holding their breath waiting to hear about raclette, it didn't happen (yet). Instead, here's a picture of the cointreau flavored soufflé I made in class last Friday afternoon.
I'm super proud of my soufflé for not falling down until after I presented it to Chef. He was adamant that we all leave them in the oven a little longer than we thought we needed, so it's darker than other Chef showed us in the demonstration class, but it turned out great.
Friday also marked our official one week of class! So most of us went out together afterwards to grab a celebratory glass of wine at a cafe down the street. My friend Anthony (sitting on my right, the one who's a good chef already) ordered a hot chocolate, and ended up telling me that in la Martinique they make their hot chocolate with milk (not water like at this cafe), cinnamon, but also peanut butter and a lime peel garnish. Never thought of that, but honestly it sounds delicious.
And then Anthony turned to me afterwards and said, "my friend from the other class invited me to dinner nearby, want to come?" So we shivered off to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of wine, and then tracked down the right address.
Anthony's friend is from la Réunion, which I learned is down near Madagascar. He made us a dish from home involving sausages, tomatoes, onions and rice. The internet tells me it might be rougail saucisse but I would have to check. Anyway, he said it's even better with the right kind of tomato. Right now we've been dealing with sad, out-of-season tomatoes in class.
Of the four people at dinner, there was one other guy from India who I think said he's studying pastry and boulangerie. Collectively we got by with a mix of French and English, and had to translate a lot for one another.
Saturday I had the day off! My new flatmate (she's not a roommate, apartment-mate is too long, and host-sister isn't quite right either) and I went out in the morning to get coffee/ croissants/ hot chocolate and then kept walking... and walking... and walking... I think we left at 11am and didn't get back until 5pm.
We found a pop-up flea market.
I thought that last photo was funny. The title of the book is "Film Editing, It's Not Rocket Science!"
Home to start my homework before Monday's early morning practical.
Sunday I got up and went to 10:15am mass again. Back home to eat breakfast and finish my homework after a couple hours. In an effort to get back out of the house I grabbed my copy of French Nat Geo about Monarch butterflies and wandered over to a cafe for tea and (French) onion soup. Anything to warm up. They were very friendly and let me sit for a couple hours. Also caramel vanilla tea is fantastic.
I probably left at 6pm having barely spoken a word to anybody all day, so my friend convinced me to go back to church for the evening mass (if anyone knows Darren, he's very convincing in that field). So that's what I did. I went back and found that instead of being the morning children's mass, it was an evening young adult's mass, and it was absolutely packed. I picked a seat on top of a heating vent.
I didn't participate much this time, but I did get to sit for an hour and listen to French being spoken, read, and sung. The fact that it was the same mass twice in one day meant good practice hearing things twice. Anyway, I was brave and went up to one of the priests afterwards and asked him if there was a group for jeunes professionels at the parish. Good news! Apparently there is. Bad news? The priest in charge of it was sick that day so they weren't meeting for dinner this week. They were however serving vin chaud (hot wine) outside, so I went and got a cup and then looked lost enough that I made friends with someone who knew someone (etc) and they sing in the choir. Long story short, I might go back and see if (A) they're having that dinner next week and (B) maybe I can try singing in the choir. I don't really have any more information than that for now, so we'll put a pin in that developing story.
Monday morning was a nice 7:30 am practical. We made œuf poché (poached egg) Basquaise with a little salad. I poached a second egg (just in case the first one didn't work out of course) and inhaled them both for breakfast after Chef graded my plate.
One of the advanced pastry students let us try her blackcurrant eclairs. My classmate and I split one because it was 10am.
With four hours to kill until the next demo, I went out to find breakfast with one of my other classmates, also from LA!
We can all ignore the state of my hair- I got up at 6:15 and immediately shoved it under my kitchen cap with no regard as to what it might look like later.
The afternoon demo was tarte aux pommes (apple tart) and poached fish (stay tuned for upcoming post). Please enjoy these photos of the sun/ sunset I took as I left school for the day and out my bedroom window.
I got home and barely put down my bag before picking it back up, turning on my heel, and running out the door to dinner. Dinner was an invitation for burgers maison (homemade burgers) at a friend's place.
My sister asked, "do the French make good burgers?" Well:
We had sweet potatoes (patate douce), and then everybody got a bun toasted with liberal amounts of butter, a layer of either ketchup or bbq sauce, a slice of cheese, patty, more cheese, patty, tiny French pickles sliced in half, and maybe an egg depending on who wanted one. No tomatoes, no lettuce, no onions. Either the French like their protein, or this is what happens when you leave the boys in charge of dinner. I did write to my sister and tell her it was delicious though. We finished the night playing Mario Kart, which sounds simple but I really am terrible. It was made all the more interesting by the fact that everyone else was shouting at the screen in French.
If anyone's wondering, the Rainbow Road is called Route Arc-en-ciel, and next time we do dinner I've offered to make homemade tacos. Wish me luck because I can't find pinto beans anywhere.