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Choucroute: An Alsatian Speciality Served by my French Host Family

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Choucroute: An Alsatian Speciality Served by my French Host Family

It’s a beautiful blue sky Sunday here in Montpellier and I have had a very special day with my French host family. I got all of my work for my intensive French immersion course for adults finished yesterday as I wasn’t sure how long of a day it would be and I hate going into the EasyFrench School in Montpellier on Monday morning unprepared. I was glad of it too as it was a much longer day than I was expecting but a great one.

Since I have been learning French in France I have stayed with 3 separate host families as I hoped to experience different dynamics and lay down multiple roots here in the south of France. I’m so happy with this strategy because I have stayed with 3 wonderful, interesting and unique families; I am still in contact with all of them and see them all regularly. The first of the families I stayed with I don’t get to see as much as they are a very dynamic family who are always busy, as am I too we have to be quite far sighted to get together. Today was one of those days and they had invited me to join them for a get together for their association, they had told me a lot about it when I first came to learn French in France as they are the organisers but this was the first time I had a chance to come along. The association was for people of a certain age who were interested in food and drink and dancing; older people who still wanted to throw down from time-to-time.

I met them this morning at their house which was great because I got to see the dogs that I haven’t seen in a while who used to welcome me home each day when I came back from my French immersion course at the Easy French School in the South of France. We drove down to Palavas which is the wonderful seaside town just a short drive away. If you don’t know Palavas yet give it a google; it’s a great place for a visit during your French language stay in Montpellier.

Today however we weren’t enjoying the sandy beaches in the sun, we were in a big hall just outside the town centre. When we arrived all the tables were set and with nibbles, bottles of beer and wine as well. I wasn’t too sure what to expect as they hadn’t really told me much about what it the event was but as I looked around it became clear I was in for a huge amount of good food and good drink. I was introduced to loads of new people who were all very interested in speaking with me and they welcomed me very warmly. Not many of them spoke English but if you’ve read any of my previous articles you may well have heard me say that that’s exactly what I’m looking for. A completely French environment which I seemed to have found here.

What followed can only be described as a feast. The nibbles didn’t last long and my new French retiree friends were constantly offering me each different thing and we were discussing the names for each as well. This is something I have noticed about the French locals I have met since I have been learning French in Montpellier; when it comes to food and drink they want to make sure you are satisfied. As a case in point the next thing to come out was a crab salad with wine vinegar dressing, I made the mistake of asking it was red or white which they found amusing as white vinaigrette is used for cleaning. Next up they brought out the main course which was called ‘choucroute’ and apparently everyone had been looking forward to it. It’s a traditional recipe from Alsace and it is about the meatiest meal I’ve had since I started my French language stay in Montpellier. It was glorious and definitely something I will be taking home with me and bringing out when I want some comfort food. It wasn’t finished there though and the traditional formula of cheese, cakes and coffee came on out afterwards. All washed down with some lovely local wine and accompanied with complete French immersion.

It was perfect and afterwards those of us who could move headed over to the dance floor. I had promised the grandmother of my host family that I would share a dance with her so I couldn’t let her down.

After all was said and done I helped pack away the tables and wash everything down and we headed on home. Since learning French in France I’ve had a few big parties and they normally don’t end so responsibly, I really felt part of the community and I recommend getting involved in something similar if you are doing an immersion course. It’s good fun, the people are more likely to speak French to you and you will taste new French specialities.