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If you show me yours: French for Bastille Day

I’ll show you my culture, if you show me yours.

The obsession with French things began when I was about 9 or 10. If I’m perfectly honest, I’ll admit that it wasn’t really a French obsession.

Just an obsession with all things Les Miserables.

Yes that’s right.

Call me a hipster if you will, but I. Loved. It. First. You know, back before it was cool.



Although ‘I’ technically means, me, my sister, and my cousin.

My cousin Ashleigh and I, who were always climbing trees and scraping knees (points for reference matching), found our spirit animals in Enjolras- the student leader of the revolution, and Gavroche, the plucky street urchin.My sister was Gavroche’s sister- the tragic Eponine.

Enjolras, Eponine, Gavroche.

We knew all the words to the (3 hour long) opera, and would sing them in our living room (rapidly changing outfits to keep up with 3 of us playing the 10 or so main characters), in public, and- to our parents dread- on car trips.

One of my better memories is when we tried to make candles by melting wax and crayons on the stove, and following a short explosion that rocketed bright orange crayon wax across the whole kitchen, we spent a fairly pleasant afternoon scrubbing the cutlery and singing Les Mis from start to finish.

For my 11th birthday, my cousin David gave me a book voucher, and I spent the summer holidays rocketing between running across Woody Island (our holiday destination), doing my best penguin imitation by spending hours swooping through the icy water, and reading my new beloved.

The next year, I though it was a good idea to use a quote from Les Mis for my ‘reading’ in the school Speech and Drama Class.

Probably not eh?

Fast forward a few years.

Fuel the fire with my sister’s growing interest in all things historical, and educational specialisation on the French revolution.

Add a bit of my bestie and I watching French and Saunders in ‘Let them eat Cake‘ (watch it now!)

Spend some hours in the kitchen with us as we make Mousse au Chocolate and experiment with dainty truffles.

You end up with this (Bastille Day 2008):

Ariel, ever the aristocrat.
Tegan, still into cross-dressing. (Yeah I made the pants, and I was so Proud!)

And so, so many more. But they might kill me if I upload the photos again now,

So here we are, seven more years into the ‘future’, and hanging out in this insanely international institute with a couple of genuine French people.

Let the French Food be Served!

First up, Paulina, who used here transferable skills to stuff choux pastry with dolce de leche (a bit of a French-Chilean hybrid there), and with nutella.

Meanwhile, Kata cut up some fruit, and artfully brought us some French colours:

While Oskar (the kid) and Mitzi (the cat) kept Iman (the full grown adult) busy, Joram made fresh bread…

But also brought a pâté en croûte to the table, a kind of pie-encased mix of meats.

Beautiful and flaky on the outside…

.. but the poor thing crumbled a little when cut.

Luckily, photogenic-cy has not effect on taste!

 Mercedes rocked up to the party with a Quiche.

..And Mitzi the cat looked the other way while Etienne (a real life French person!) beat up eggs, milk and cheese to make a fluffy souffle.

 A blur of motion!

And then, we just had to wait….


I brought a boeuf bourguignon, using my sister’s favourite recipe.

Everyone was a bit suspicious of the giant onion pieces, but the reviews were generally favourable.

Everyone grabbed a glass of wine, or Orangina (the epitome of French drinking culture- brought by Iman), and tucked in.

We hadn’t been able to wait for the Souffle, so it arrived as a bit of a mid-meal bonus.

But it seems that souffle is the kind of food that, if you don’t have any more room- you make room.

Naturally, there was a cheese course, which arrived as we were discussing the ‘deeply evasive’ metaphoric meaning of ‘between your kidneys in one of Pau’s (possibly ex-) favourite French love songs.

And Alix (a true Parisienne!), brought out the Mousse au Chocolat

Some disgusting person reasoned that dolche de leche profiteroles could be dunked in the mousse.

Shame on them!

The evening ended with everyone rolling home, completely full of delicious food.

Ok guys! Who has a national holiday next?


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