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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

Week Forty-One in France: Cinnamon rolls and corn chowder

Mulhouse and its beautiful canal.

27/06/20: For the first time in several months, my friend and fellow Fulbrighter, G., came to see me in Mulhouse and continue commiserating about our time as grantees and our futures in France. To kick off the weekend, I finished baking my homemade cinnamon rolls and slathered them in a cream cheese glaze – the strangers to Cinnabon at the table were quite impressed. Other brunch players included fruit salad with fresh mint from the garden, scrambled eggs, bacon, baked beans, smoked salmon and more. This family knows how to eat. Afterwards, G., J. and I decided to get some fresh air at the Grand Ballon, the highest point in the Vosges Mountains. Surprisingly, the wind didn't blow us off the top of the mountain, and we enjoyed stunning views and pastries at a mountain-top restaurant all afternoon. (I got a chocolate tart.) The whole outing reminded me of my very first month in Alsace, when J. and I ate blueberry pie together at another ferme auberge in the Vosges – which we could literally see from our vantage point at the Grand Ballon. Things change, and they stay the same. The night ended at a friend's house playing a game called "Use Your Words!" (similar to Quiplash), which induced fits of giggles and greatly lowered my self-esteem – apparently I'm not funny in English or French.

28/06/20: The weekend continued with crêpes for lunch at La Terre Est Plate – my go-to is always the complète, a buckwheat galette filled with astronomical amounts of cheese and ham, adorned with a shiny egg yolk. One of the most frustrating things about France is that Mulhouse is an absolute ghost town on Sundays, so instead of shopping, we headed (enfin!) to the free Musée des Beaux-Arts, where we marveled at the current exhibition, a series of ethereal paintings by Léon Zeytline depicting life in Paris. We sheltered from the sweltering afternoon with cups of cool, creamy gelato (I got melon and mango) before G. headed home to Strasbourg and we promised to keep in touch and keep each other updated on our various plans to spend our lives in France. Hands down, one of the best things about this past year as a language assistant has been the wonderful people I've met.

29/06/20: As July approaches, the urgency to finish the Lycée Albert Schweitzer yearbook increases. Several hours of work – and troubleshooting – with my prof référent C. fed into a delicious lunch of curry chicken and a slice of Alsatian apple tart for dessert. We're almost finished! But not yet. After all this screen-gazing with no end in sight, a supplemental pastry was required upon returning home. What? What am I supposed to do when a box from ADN Patisserie is staring me in the face? Pure gourmandise led me to devour half of a very unique sweet – a white chocolate cream dome filled with pistachio and cassis curd and encircled by a ring of marshmallow. I give it some points for originality and presentation, but I have to say, I wouldn't eat it again.

30/06/20: These past few weeks – nay, the past few months – have had their share of stress, from applying to a local humanities research Masters at the UHA, to waiting for my new TAPIF arrêté de nomination, to figuring out which visa is right for me if I want to teach a course as a contractuelle at the university. There are so many gears turning in my head, it can get overwhelming. Luckily, the stress is slowly melting away as I realize how many options I have at my fingertips – everything will be alright, especially considering my amazing support system. I cuddled with the dogs and made a corn chowder to celebrate getting accepted to the Masters program (corn, red potatoes, bacon, the works). Then, an amazing Tuesday night dinner with the family: perfectly cooked steak, tender and peppery blettes (Swiss chard), and a raw mushroom salad with plenty of garlic and fresh cilantro. For dessert and digestif, chocolate pudding and a glass of J.'s dad's homemade peach wine – made from peach leaves!

01/07/20: Al fresco lunch with my sweet friends A. and I. this afternoon, at Tilvist, a tea shop and café that I've been wanting to try for a while. We were all tempted by the amazing smoothies – mine featured peach, mango, kiwi and basil. The salad and puff pastry accompanying this stellar smoothie were tasty, but a touch less amazing. The salad was overloaded with melon, pineapple, cheese, beets, cherry tomatoes and extremely cardamom-heavy granola, while the mushroom and chicken puff pastry was a bit fade for my liking. If I come back, I'm definitely trying the stuffed bretzel. Today's big news? C. and I finally finished the yearbook, and it looks beautiful. Despite all the procrastination (and discovering an egregious typo right before publishing it), I couldn't be prouder to show off my work at the high school and the rest of the exciting activities and accomplishments at L.A.S. C., her family and I chowed down on McDonald's to celebrate. Shh.

02/07/20: Attention: "Take-out on the Terrace" was moved to Thursday this week. J., sister C. and I basked in the sunset while diving into dishes from the Italian restaurant down the street, Pinocchietto. My creamy mushroom risotto held hints of white wine, and C.'s eggplant Parmesan was one of the cheesiest I've ever seen. Meanwhile, J.'s pizza should be a national relic – a cream base embellished with shards of Parmesan, bright green arugula and salty prosciutto. One of Mulhouse's strengths, I'll admit, is Italian food.

Dear Lord, was this lasagna sublime.

03/07/20: J. took over the kitchen to give this lazy Friday some peps. And when he was finished, on s'est régalé. His meal was delicious and a first for me – spinach and salmon lasagna. The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicate; there was plenty of cheese inside and on top, and the noodles were both soft and crispy. The play of textures! The flavors! The simplicity, and yet the innovation! It's been a joy to see J. get more and more comfortable in the kitchen – although if stick around for next week, you'll see that won't quite last. But for now, I'll just enjoy being cooked for.


Let's continue this weekly series 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!


Klancy Miller talks to The Cut about new food magazine For the Culture that centers Black women's stories: 'Black Women Are the Architects of Cuisine'

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