29 December 2015

A chocolate thought for the day

In all its various forms, chocolate must surely be one of the essential accompaniments to any end-of-year celebration, and the papillote, the sine qua non of the December holiday season in the Rhône-Alpes, is certainly no exception.

Once again, these festive chocolates "appeared" under our Christmas tree on the 25th morning. And, as is always the case, they have been quickly dwindling in number since.

Each papillote is wrapped in a slip of paper which contains a famous quotation, proverb or aphorism.

Yesterday's degustation provided me with the following, both of which seem appropriate as we sit down to candle-lit tables to share food with friends and family.

Creole Proverb
Be sure the candle is lit
before you throw away the match.

Richard Whatley
Never argue at the dinner table,
for the one who is not hungry
will always have the last word.



14 December 2015

Cuisinez-vous le français? — A Review

However you found your way to this post of GFiMP — whether you hopscotched from another blog, landed here by accident, or sought us out deliberately (thank you!) — chances are you too probably have a little bit of France in your pants.

Maybe you know it; maybe you don’t.

Maybe your interest simply lies in knowing more about the French people and what makes them tick. Or maybe you’re more interested in everything from the country’s history and recent events to its music and language, art and food, or holidays and cultural celebrations. Maybe it’s a combination of the above, or something else entirely.

Whatever the case may be, you might be happy to know there is a great new way to help you mâitriser two of the most enjoyable yet sometimes daunting elements of French culture that Francophiles must one day come to terms with: French grammar and cooking.

Introducing Cuisinez-vous le français?, a concept that blends learning French grammar with cooking authentic French food. The project was created by Langues & Nature, a company that has been offering French language immersion courses for adults and teens for more than 30 years.

How it works
Once a week subscribers to this innovative service can access a new video via computer, tablet or mobile phone, and then watch, listen and repeat (subtitles are optional) as teacher and chef work side by side in the gorgeous kitchen of the Château de la Mazure in North-West France.

Watch. Listen. Repeat. Cook.
I recently had the opportunity to take Cuisinez-vous le français? for a test drive and found the online interface simple to use, the recipes well within my current culinary reach and the grammar rules a good way to review—and improve!—my language skills. Here are some suggestions, then, for how you can take full advantage of what Cuisinez-vous le français? has to offer.

Watch and listen   First, take the time to watch the video at whatever speed is best suited to your current language skills. Also, use the subtitles if you need to. Watch and listen as many times as you want. The videos are short enough that even several viewings won’t take up much of your time. [The text explaining the grammar rule and the video transcript are conveniently located on the same page].

Repeat   Then, once you feel comfortable, repeat along with the instructor using the subtitles. The next step is to turn the sound off and read along with the subtitles. Just remember: it doesn’t help if you only repeat inside your head, so make sure your repeat out loud.

Cook   And finally, once you have watched, listened and repeated several times — and collected your ingredients — it’s time to head to the kitchen. There you can watch, repeat and prepare the recipe alongside the chef. Soon you are not only speaking French, you are also cooking le français and learning some French culinary secrets at the same time!

An added bonus you'll appreciate is the tip, located at the bottom of each lesson, for which French wine to associate with the dish you’ve just created, as well as some informative dietary advice about the ingredients.

Learning as fun
There’s a school of thought that says when learning is made fun, it becomes extremely effective, more effective, some say, than conventional or traditional teaching methods. We retain and recall information more quickly and with greater precision and ease, factors which can definitely give you an edge when learning a new language.

When I think back to how I learned French, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. Too bad Cuisinez-vous le français? wasn’t around back then; my apprentissage would definitely have been more ludic, and rather than feeling threatened by iron-fisted teachers such as Claudine, I might have been up and running much sooner when it came to things like la maison d’être and the ever intimidating subjunctive verb tense.

Now it’s your turn
There’s only one thing left to say: get yourself over to Cuisinez-vous le français? today and sign up for a year’s worth of French language and cooking lessons.

52 videos.
52 grammar rules.
52 iconic, seasonal recipes that have helped make French gastronomy so appreciated the world over.
52 opportunities to delight your friends and families with some delicious regional specialities.
52 chances to have fun.

How much is it? Only 52 euros for a one-year subscription. That’s 12 full months of French language/cooking lessons for less than what many people spend on coffee in a single month!

And with Christmas nearly upon us, why not offer yourself, or someone you love, a gift of fun? As someone recently noted, it will make a change from socks and scarves!

So click here to steer your web browser over to Cuisinez-vous le français? today and have a look around. You’ll be hard pressed to find the same unique combination of French language and cooking lessons all wrapped into the same fun package.

For more information, you can check out their Facebook page here or read this article in France Today magazine.

Happy cooking, happy learning, and happy holidays!

08 December 2015

December 8 — Festival of Lights

I've already posted about the Festival of Lights in Lyon (here), but the shows being cancelled this year due to the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November have made it all the more poignant.

Lyon is still going to celebrate though, and pay homage to the victims from Paris, they way they have for decades — by putting little lights out on their window sills. Public announcements have sprung up at bus stops, in the metro and at kiosks throughout the city these past few weeks encouraging everyone to illuminons notre ville.

So if you are in Lyon tonight, I encourage you to look up. And why not put out a candle or two of your own and spread the light.