We had our first French test last week, and most survived – although, the instructor was fairly forgiving of our cryptic frenglish. Some students have dropped off the edge. Many rumors have surfaced, but like the stories of the supposed stalking burglar in the complex, no one really has all the facts. Apparently the programs offered here aren’t for everyone, but it’s a shame those details weren’t sorted out prior to them signing up, paying tuition, and travelling all the way to France!
We’re all still bumbling along in the kitchens as well. I blame the chef (he’s not here) because as everyone knows, they are unpredictable at best. To be honest, so far chef has had the patience of Gandhi. There was only one time last week where I saw him lose it when some younger students were acting up. I kinda missed the crux of it, but it was clear he’d had enough. We had one assignment in cuisine where we were meant to implement the techniques we learned thus far with the ingredients for Boeuf Bourguignon. “Allez, allez!” Chef said. We stared at him blankly. Without our handholding instructions, we were like frightened deer in the headlights. Slowly it clicked that we did actually know some stuff already…but now we had to make boeuf bourguignon, well, pretty. This is normally a very rustic looking dish. And to make it even more challenging we had to use beef tongue in place of the usual cuts, red wine, lardons and mushrooms. Other ingredients could be added, but the dish needed to taste like boeuf bourguignon in the end. Some student balked at even being in the same room with a giant mammalian tongue wagging on the table. And after cooking it for 24 hours until reaching a lovely shade of grey, skinning it and lastly the chef slicing it up with a fervor, seriously pushed some culinary envelopes.
I was teamed with G-how from Malaysia. He’s a good guy, and handy in the kitchen but he did have his own plan and insisted on trying to do everything, and of course is ESL. Well, after our trials and tribulations I suggested we do tongue ‘Carpaccio’ and mash potatoes with duxelles and red wine sauce. It came out fairly monochromatic on the plate, and I’m not sure I would serve it outside our little kitchen, but Chef gave us the ok during presentation so we took that as a good sign!
Currently we have a break for what is meant to be spring, however it’s raining, windy and about 50f. So Steve and I are huddled in blankets planning a trip to nearby Avignon. It is supposed to be a lovely little city, full of history and hopefully sunshine. We’ll let you know if our travel plans prevail! Until then…