This course is designed to learn about French culture through the study of its regions and their culinary traditions that have developed over hundreds of years. We will study the culture of the regions in terms of their distinct local products that exist because of the regions’ climate, location, and soil. Secondly, we will transform these products into the regional dishes that are inextricably linked in the French mind to specific regions. Third, we will learn various French culinary techniques such as braising, roasting, and sauce making that have evolved from Escoffier and Carême who codified the first set of rules of French cuisine to the revolutionary founders of la nouvelle cuisine in the nineteen seventies such as Guérard and Bocuse to the recent wizards who took la nouvelle cuisine as a launching pad for their innovations like Passard and Bras.
Procedure: The class will be conducted entirely in French. We meet weekly on Mondays from 12:30-3:50 in the kitchen of the Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center at 2 Eureka Circle. After some initial classes devoted learning basics of French cooking, we will feature the food and wine of one of France’s regions each week such as la Bretagne (Brittany), la Normandie, la Bourgogne (Burgundy), L’Alsace and la Provence. We will first learn about the region from both a historical, cultural, and culinary perspective. We will then prepare a meal using products and creating dishes of the region under consideration. After preparation, we will enjoy the meal that we have prepared. After clean up, and only after cleanup is complete, the class will be dismissed.
Teams: The class will be broken down into teams, each of which will prepare one of the courses and/or be responsible for cleaning up. During down time, we will study various aspects of regional culture and/or of France’s culinary tradition addressed in your text or your workbook such as the study of culinary vocabulary from A-Z or the world of French wines.
You must commit first and foremost to speaking French in class. Secondly, cooking requires good organization and a lot of hard work. Some of the preparatory work such as shopping and carrying of purchases from car to kitchen and the after meal clean up require teamwork, good cheer, and volunteerism. Some of the kitchen work is dull and repetitive but crucial to the final product.
If you take this course, you must agree to pitch in and help with these tasks that are essential for the success of good cooking.
Grade: Your grade comes from tests and weekly quizzes on vocabulary and regional history, culture, cuisine, and wine. Your grade is also based on your participation in preparing each week's meal You are also judged by your use of French with your teammates while in class.
Attendance is mandatory. You are allowed one absence. If you are absent from class, you must contact me and explain the reason for your absence.
Turn off all cell phones and refrain from any electronic communication while in class. If you have something urgent that requires your being in touch with someone electronically, please let me know before class starts.