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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

Week Forty in France: Drinking French cocktails and Merci chocolates

The iconic cheese board.
Impromptu salmon.

20/06/20: You'd think that, billing myself as a "food person," I'd get used to just whipping up something tasty and think nothing of it. But alas, even the smallest things still get me pumped. So, naturally after a somewhat impromptu – and very simple – salmon meal that came together in just an hour or so, I felt like the queen of the world. Salmon en papillote (my first try!) and rice noodles sautéed with wok veggies, soy sauce, sesame oil, and more. Don't forget the sriracha. And the cilantro.

21/06/20: Father's Day (Fête des Pères) and T.'s birthday this week makes for quite the Sunday lunch. Wanting to do something special, I practically set up a cocktail-making factory line, just churning them out – thanks David Lebovitz! I poured pitchers of two different recipes from his book, Drinking French: the City of Light (dry vermouth, homemade vin d'orange, Cointreau and crémant d'Alsace, plus lemon, orange and cucumber slices for garnish), and La Bicyclette (crème de cassis, dry vermouth and crémant d'Alsace, decorated with a lemon twist). After a convivial "chin-chin," the main course arrived with a flourish. Buttery veggies, T.'s always-stunning roasted potatoes and a generous serving of tender rabbit, which I haven't eaten since my dabbles in Greece. A stunning, bien servi cheese plate followed, featuring a hard Alpine cheese enrobed with edible flowers. As I looked around the table, smiling, I realized that I graduated from Northwestern exactly a year ago... wow. I could have never imagined that one year would bring me so much happiness (and so many delicious feasts). After a cocktail-induced nap, I woke up, hair a mess, for my favorite guilty pleasure – savory, salty fried rice from La Maison des Délices.

Merci to all my wonderful students!

23/06/20: I walked into Lycée Schweitzer for the last time (this year, that is!) to say goodbye to a few of my favorite and most talented students. To my surprise, they handed me a gift bag with a sweet note and "so bomb" German chocolates, a brand called Merci. Meanwhile, my co-teacher gifted me with a book about Mulhouse murals and street art. I left after an hour-long chat, filled with book recommendations and predictions for the future, so grateful for these wonderful people and crossing my fingers that I'll be able to come back and teach in this school again next year.

"I learn so much about American culture thanks to you, now I'm going to slay the game ;) Thank you for every beautiful moments that we shared together!" – Noémie

24/06/20: It's really summer now. A sun-soaked day at C.'s friend's pool led to a casual outdoor, socially distanced barbecue at another friend's house. J. grilled me chicken kebabs and roasted bell peppers, and I sipped on Lambrusco as we discussed, debated and grinned wildly until the sun set and the mosquitos came out. After only having known this group of people for a short time, I shocked myself at how comfortable I felt speaking up in the conversation, joking with them and even teasing them – all in French!

25/06/20: My good shock quickly turned to bad shock at 4 a.m. this morning, as I battled a food poisoning situation and consequently nearly sweat to death. Yikes... You know what that means – lots of tonic water and plain rice today (I didn't feel like going to the supermarket for ginger ale). Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

Hello horses.

26/06/20: Feeling better, but still a bit weak. Luckily, J. and C. cheered me up with what is quickly becoming a tradition – Friday al fresco dinners on the terrace. What shall we brand it? "Take-Out on the Terrace?" Anyway, this time we opted for Chinese food from La Tour de Jade, and I devoured my chicken with veggies over rice, especially those amazing silky shiitake mushrooms. The only thing that was missing were the baby corns! You know the ones. J. and I set out for a walk in the countryside at dusk, stopping to say hi to horses. When we got back, I made the fateful decision – that J. did not support – to get started on making homemade cinnamon rolls for brunch tomorrow. However, due to a slight misreading of the recipe, I ended up finishing past midnight. But I didn't care how late it was, because that cinnamon roll dough was the fluffiest, softest, most pillowy dough I've ever worked with. I would've gone to sleep on top of it if I could. Using a hefty dose of butter, cinnamon and my quick fix for the shameful lack of brown sugar in this country (white sugar and agave for that moist texture), I rolled up the buns and tucked them gently in the fridge. I headed to bed late that night, tired but excited and impatient to get baking the next morning.


I decided to start a weekly series in my blog where I link to an important article about food that I believe everyone should read. Getting educated is the first step (again, of many!) to making the food world a more equitable place. I welcome suggestions in the comments!


A little late, but everyone who has ever watched a Bon Appétit YouTube video or cooked one of their recipes should be up to date on the allegations against the publication (and should know the name Tammie Teclemariam, a freelance food writer who broke the BA news and is working hard to change food media): Bon Appétit's week from hell: How a deluge of allegations depicting a 'toxic' work culture left the magazine in chaos

Alicia Kennedy on why "Food is political!" is a platitude: On Politics

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