I went back to my roots a few weeks ago and visited the host family who I lived with when I started learning French in France almost 8 months ago! I came to do the intensive French immersion course for adults for 2 months during which I spent the whole time with these wonderful people and their wonderful dog. They made such a nice home for me I came back just a month after leaving to do another French language stay with the hope of going on to do the DALF exam later this year.
Guylaine is the name of the mother and Pierre is the son and they live with their dog and their cat. They have a wonderful big home and the downstairs room where I stayed was basically like my own apartment and had a shower and bathroom so I had tons of privacy if I wanted it. That room is now being occupied by Gabrielle; a German lady who is taking the French course for seniors over 50 years. She is doing a 2-week home stay here and she does one most years and has been coming for a long time but visiting various places in France. This however, was her first time in Montpellier so I was interested to get her view on it. She arrived just as things are starting to warm up and the last week has been gorgeous weather which she said was a big reason for why she chose Montpellier to do her French course 50+ in Montpellier.
The Francophone Immersion Continues with Swiss Dinner
Guylaine is a huge fan of all things Swiss and has been going there on her holidays every year since she was young. She is particularly fond of the food and the night they invited me round she was making meat fondue. If you are thinking that fondue is only for cheese you will be thinking exactly what I was when they first told me about it, I was actually a little relieved to discover it wasn’t. The residence for the Easy French School in Montpellier where I was living at the time had a few Swiss students who I had made friends with and we had bonded over a love of cooking. They told me that I had to have some cheese fondue with them. They were pleasantly surprised to find you could by fondue stuff fairly easily here and as the season for the traditional meal had just arrived they were going a bit crazy with it. I ended up having a lot of fondue and although that was lovely, a change was well appreciated.
This recipe however, involved chunks of delicious raw beef that you put into the fondue pot inside of which was a boiling, flavoursome liquid mixture. Alongside that we had some potatoes that were mashed together with a special type of cheese and crème that resulted in the most incredible texture that was stringy but still soft; it was called ‘l’aligot’. Another thing that makes the meal unique is that you can cook the meat for as long or as little as you like, I for example love my meat very rare and just dipping the chunk in for a little bit meant it had a lovely moist centre. The fact that it was lots of little chunks as well as opposed to one big slab meant I could have a variety of textures. If I wanted one a bit more charred on the outside as I love that flavour too I could let it bubble away for a bit longer sucking up all the delicious flavours and crisping nicely. It was utterly delicious!
Talking with Gabrielle was very interesting and her French was impeccable. She had a lifelong love of France and spoke amazingly well. She was in her 70’s and the first student on the 50+ French course in France I had met so it was great to get her insight. Also, she was a great teacher and helped me with a lot of things that had been bugging me for ages. The wonderful thing about the French immersion technique is that you can carry on your language learning whilst you are just relaxing or eating some amazing Swiss cuisine.