LessonsNantes, Spring 2012

I haven’t yet come to terms with how I have changed, or all of the lessons learned over the semester.  But here are a few tidbits and tidpieces of what I have picked up along the way.

I ate mussels out of their shells for the first time this semester.  The server explained that you take one, and dig out the mussel by hand.  Then, that shell serves as a tool to get out the rest of the mussels.

I learned that food isn’t magically better simply because it’s in France.  McDonald’s for example.  I went there with another IES student one day just to try it.  In theory the beef is better quality, because it is grass-fed and each cow is tracked, but it basically just tasted like a greasy McDonald’s burger.  What is required to make good food, whether you are in France, the United States, or anywhere else, is a little bit of effort and care.  The avocado/tomato salad I made was nothing I learned in France, but an idea I had to be a little creative and take the time to put something good together.

I learned how not to make S’mores with French ingredients.  If it’s not with a graham cracker, it really just doesn’t taste like a s’more.  It was very sweet of Morgane, our social coordinator, to think of making them at IES, and it’s not her fault there are no graham crackers in France.  They were good though.  On the other hand, I did learn how to make traditional madeleines, as well as the Gateau Nantais.  This is the specialty cake of Nantes and there are supposedly as many versions of it as there are residents of Nantes.  In any case, the one I made was covered with delicious custard which we made as well.

IES Nantes puts on a play every semester.  I am so thrilled to have been a part of it.  Together with the rest of the cast, we can say that we learned and put on a play in French.  This was a great learning tool, not only in vocabulary and pronunciation, but also in the rhythm and feel of speaking the language.

Of course, there are plenty more little things I have picked up, but some of them I may not have even realized yet.  They will come out gradually as I remember a cooking trick here, and a word I learned there.

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