Archive for November, 2011

Nov 19 2011

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Between National French Week and Christmas Break…

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We’re already almost there! Time is flying so fast that it is difficult to keep track of all the events that you might attend before the finals. So here it is: a recap’ of some of the latest French events, and a few announcements for the rest of this semester!

National French Week: November 7th – November 14th

During the whole week, French students and members of the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts could answer questions and earn points: by the end of the week, we had two fantastic winners who could enjoy some free drinks or food at the Bistro! We learnt about French engraving, French architecture, Andorran and French history, and Belgian comics!

On Monday, a round-table event on the Euro-crisis, with Professor Michael Marks and Professor Yan Liang, gathered a great audience of students and faculty members, with questions about economics and politics regarding the current situation in Europe and its possible evolutions.

On Tuesday, “Les Choristes” was shown during our weekly movie night: half of you already loved it before the showing. The other half had not seen it yet but, by the end of the movie, I think that there was a consensus on the film’s awesomeness.

On Wednesday, French table at Goudy: the “coq au vin” was delicious !

On Thursday, French cooking at WISH! As you can see from the pictures, we had a lot of fun and even invented our own “chocolate soupe” (next time, the mousse will work)! On the menu, we had “tapenade” (two bread spreads, with green and dark olives, from the South of France), a modified version of quiche lorraine (from the North East of France), some gratin dauphinois (au gratin potatoes with garlic and crème fraîche, from the Dauphiné, a region close to Lyon which used to belong to the King’s son, who was also known as “le Dauphin” – “the Dolphin”), some crêpes (the famous thin pancakes from Brittany), and a chocolate dessert which was close enough to “mousse au chocolat”. We also had some “sirop de fraise”, a popular non-alcoholic drink, on the table. Yummy!


All the recipes and pictures will be on this brand new website very soon: !

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas: celebrating winter the French way

We only have three weeks between Thanksgiving and the finals, but there is A LOT going on during these three weeks !

Event #1: AUDITIONS FOR THE FRENCH PLAY, “Les Fourberies de Scapin” (November 30th, WLT B21, 4:10pm).

“Les Fourberies” is a comedy by Molière, and we intend to make it as fun as possible, both for the actors and for the audience. We’d like to perform in mimes and in French, with possibly some subtitles as well. We’re thinking of something dynamic, over-the-top, and as ridiculous as possible to make the audience laugh. Elisabeth Maiano and I are working on it together at the moment, and we’re looking forward to meeting a wonderful and extraordinary cast (you?) on November 30th. 🙂 The performances would take place in the spring, either in mid-February or in early March.

Event #2: INTERNATIONAL KARAOKE NIGHT !!! (December 6th, in Kaneko Commons)

This is your chance to be an international star! You will get an email very soon with more information and French songs on which you can practice (we’ll have a very large choice). There might be some training sessions before the actual karaoke night. The Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese assistants are also all selecting songs at the moment: we’re looking to make this a big event! 🙂

Event #3: FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS ! (December 8th)

December 8th, in Lyon, is the date of the festival of lights! The entire city is illuminated with candles and huge light and sound effects. Crowds come from all over Europe and fill the streets, where some people give away roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. We already have the chestnuts: they will be roasted on the grils located behind Montag Den and given freely to everyone! We won’t give wine, but we can give songs! We’ll have a time before December 8th to learn French Christmas carols and we can share them with the rest of the campus on that day! In the evening, it will be time to relax with some music, soft drinks and snacks in Montag! 🙂

Also, don’t forget our last movie night of the semester, this November 30th at 7:30pm in WLT B21: “Huit Femmes” (see previous article for the trailers). The movie nights might come back with a Christmas movie after the winter break, to make the beginning of the Spring semester feel like a continuation of the holiday! 🙂

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Nov 05 2011

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French movie nights in November: songs and laughs! (WLT B21, 7:30pm)

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Because of Thanksgiving, we’ll only have three movies this month, but they are GREAT!

We’ll start this TUESDAY, Nov. 8th, with “The Chorus” (“Les Choristes”), one of the cutest and most moving movies I’ve ever seen. To give you an idea, I’d say it’s the same kind of movie as “Amélie”, except much better. It’s not as “different” as “Amélie”, but it is a very powerful feel-good movie. “The Chorus”, starring Gérard Jugnot and Jean-Baptiste Maunier (from Lyon!), tells the story of an inspired music teacher arriving in a strict boarding school for boys in the first half of the twentieth century. Music is going to change the lives of the boys, as the school undergoes drastic changes, and as some characters finally find what they’d been looking for for years. “The Chorus” was incredibly successful on a worldwide scale, it has wonderful music and it was even nominated for an Oscar a few years ago. A must-see ! (trailer at the end of this article)

The week after, on Wednesday, November 16th, I’ll be showing “The American” (“L’Américain”), the story of Francis Farge, a Frenchman who is convinced that he was born in the wrong place. His absolute dream is to become an American citizen but the US authorities do not see that as a good idea. Francis and his lawyer Edouard Barnier (aka “Eddy”) will have to prove to everyone that he is truly more American than French, even if that means transforming a whole neighborhood into “The Almost 51st State”. See the trailer, in French, at the end of the article.

Finally, we’ll skip Thanksgiving’s week and have our last movie of the month on November 30th (Wednesday). “Eight Women” (“Huit Femmes”) is worth being seen because it is an adaptation of the game “Clue” AND a musical at the same time. One man has been murdered. Eight women, trapped inside the house where the crime was committed, become immediate suspects. Who is the killer? And what secrets are they all hiding? See the trailer and a song from the movie below.

ALL THE MOVIES ARE SHOWN AT 7:30pm, IN WLT B21. They all come with subtitles, and FREE DRINKS AND SNACKS! 🙂

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Nov 05 2011

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Cheese seminar in Portland: we were there !

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Last Thursday, five students of Willamette University went up to Portland to attend a seminar on the debate currently shaking the world of French cheese-makers: should raw milk be replaced by pasteurized milk (reputed to be safer but to restrict the variety of cheese tastes) in the making of French cheese?

We left in the afternoon, picking up a van at 4:30 and working our way up Interstate 5 to Portland. Thanks to the wonderful skills of the entire crew, we quickly found a parking lot just one block away from the luxurious Downtown Marriott Hotel, where the seminar was to take place. We entered the lobby, went to the front desk and were directed to “Salons A through C”, where refreshments were freely available as we waited for the other guests to arrive.                              

After a few minutes, we entered the salon and became a part of “the wonderful cheese community” of Portland: cheese-makers, aficionados, teachers, journalists, etc. The people present were very diverse and came from very different horizons. The event in itself was organized by Oregon State University, who have been revitalizing their local dairy plant for the past few years. As part of this process, and in order to bring an international presence closer to their students, Oregon State asked French cheese maker Sébastien Roustel to become their first “cheese maker in residence”, for the year 2011-2012. For about an hour, Mr Roustel introduced the difficult processes of cheese making to us.

The table next to ours !


The presentation is about to start!


 In about an hour, we learnt, among many other things, that:

– about 15% of French cheese is made with raw milk (mainly DPO cheese, which is more expensive because of its particular taste), and as European regulations tend to restrict the use of raw milk, two markets seem to appear: one of “commodity cheese”, with pasteurized cheese, and one of “cheese for specialists or amateurs”, with mostly raw milk;

– “pasteurized” in France is not the same as “pasteurized” in America: when 104°F are enough for a French cheese-maker, you will legally need 160°F if you’re an American cheese-maker…

 – many experiments are conducted around the world to assess the risks of raw milk, but the results are not always the same: sometimes, pasteurized milk can be more dangerous than raw milk. A series of other factors must be taken into account, such as the cleanliness of the farm, the conditions of storage, etc. Also, not all bacteriae are bad in non-pasteurized cheese: some simply add to the variety of tastes!

– in the past ten years, the number of cheese-makers in Oregon has been multiplied by five: it is hoped that the industry of cheese will follow that of wine in the next few years. In 2011, several Oregon cheeses have won the title of “Best Cheese in America”, and some cheese-makers have opened “tasting facilities” for tourists.

After the presentation came the great finale: CHEESE TASTING ! Platters were brought to each table, with pieces of cheese carefully lined up next to little stickers with numbers, and we all acted as testers in a little experiment. We tried four different kinds of cheese (among them, gouda, cheddar and blue cheese), in their pasteurized and non-pasteurized versions, and had to tell which version we preferred. The first show of hands gave a clear advantage to raw cheese, which was confirmed when we all tasted the gouda, in raw and pasteurized versions. But the pasteurized cheddar and blue cheese restaured a balance, and even though there was still a slight advantage for the raw cheese, things were not far from being even. We were left to finish our platters, and were finally given mints (how thoughtful!) before leaving the room. The drive home went well, and we all went back to our lives, stepping out of the surprisingly wide world of Cheese.

Our little group !

Cheese !

We were very professional and enthusiastic testers/tasters...

Our platter, at the end of the seminar, with the little stickers on each side.

And the mints, which made the whole experience very refreshing!

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