vendredi 10 avril 2009

Mon Frère, il est venu!

My brother David arrived last night just as I was dropping the rest of the baby asparagus into the sauté pan for dinner and mixing chèvre into the béchamel. I greeted him at the door and shoved a piece of the goat cheese into his mouth: "Welcome to France!" (It was really good goat cheese.)

I had gone to the daily farmer's market during a break in my classes to pick up ingredients for dinner, and it was such a beautiful market day here in Aix. The sky had lots of fluffy clouds rolling around, giving enticing shades and variation to the strong, clear Provençal light. The vegetables and fruits were gorgeous under red and yellow umbrellas. The stand where I bought the asparagus had three kinds: baby asparagus, which was a range between what you'd usually see in the US and skinny little asparagus twigs, regular French asparagus, which had the circumference of a dime, and huge goliath asparagus, the same height, but the diameter of a half dollar! Whoa! Wish I'd had my camera.

The trip to the market was just one more reminder that I love it here: the smells, colors, foods, and weather, the sunlight on the yellow stone buildings, the daily challenge of having no clue what people are saying to me as I try to accomplish the most mundane tasks. I'm excited to share it with a visitor!

lundi 6 avril 2009

Empanadas (see other blog)

So, I want to take a second to "announce" the launch of my other blog. . . the one that's not just for fun. After I worked on a Spanish grammar textbook for kids last year, the publisher asked me to keep a blog with content related to the book, hispanophone culture, and language learning in general. If you're a language-minded person, or interested in classical education, stop on by and throw in your two cents.

vendredi 3 avril 2009

Au Revoir Pudding, Bonjour Vacherin

Yesterday Mr. Walker finally came to fix the small freezer compartment of our fridge. Hooray! I’ll taste ice again! I’ll be able to buy prepackaged frozen foods again! And best of all, vacherin! Pudding, adieu.

Vacherin was one of the desserts presented to us at Madame le Consul’s dinner for American language assistants back in October. I’ve been craving it ever since. A sort of tart made of meringue, whipped cream, and berry sorbet, it’s light and delicious and wonderful. I would say that of all the French foods I have lusted after, vacherin takes the cake. The list of things I’ve eaten because they were sortof like vacherin and I thought they might take the edge of the craving is a rather long one (raspberry sugar-water. frozen raspberries. a wilted and unhappy raspberry charlotte). I’ve seen a store-brand boxed version of my darling taunting me from the frozen foods case of the Spar mini-market on the corner, but since first it wouldn’t have fit in our very frosty freezer, and then we had a completely frosted-full freezer that would accept nothing, buying a giant frozen cake was out of the question. We considered getting one when we had company to help us eat it quickly, but Spar closes at eight. We usually tell guests to come at 7:30, but dinner takes a bit longer to get on the table. What would become of a vacherin in the 45 minutes between leaving the store freezer case and arriving on our table? I shudder to think.

But, today, we had a completely empty freezer, big enough to fit the boxed vacherins I’ve been eying. Spar had none in stock, but that’s alright: it was the day of our Carrefour pilgrimage. Carrefour is about 30 minutes away, and Josh was sure that a frozen dessert wouldn't make it back in one piece, but I decided it was worth a try. However, when I got to the vacherin section . . . empty. I think the cases had malfunctioned and their contents had been tossed.

I almost accepted defeat, but was saved by vacherin flavored drumstick cones. Sitting near raspberry-peach, mint-chocolate, and chocolate pistachio, they called to me and I answered. (Okay, I’m getting ridiculous here, but I’m still on a sugar high.) We opened the box on the way home and Josh was right. . . Carrefour was too far away. They were never going to make it. I had to eat two.

They were worth every wave of sugar-induced nausea I experienced afterward. The top was raspberry sorbet (so light it was almost frothy) swirled with whipped cream and topped with meringue pieces. Underneath that was the traditional vanilla ice cream in a chocolate-lined cone, but this time with a core of raspberry sauce.

I am SO glad to have our freezer working again. . . even if nothing makes it home to reside there.  Tant pis!

By the way, in the grocery store I had another Marilyn Monroe spotting.  This time she was on a purse.