Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cognac (and the usual update)

Hi folks out there who read my blog (if such people exist)

So, stuff I've been doing in France. Well, yesterday I spent my morning baking an apple pie, to bring to lunch with another AFS host family.

My friend Elizabeth is another AFS student, from Latvia, and her host mom invited me to come with them on a visit to Cognac, which is pretty close to us. We walked around the city a bit.

King Louis I was born there, so they have this big statue of him.

Of course, Cognac is known for its cognac, and that pretty much dominates the atmosphere of the town.

We went to Hennessy, one of the major companies for making Cognac.

Across the river Charente from the main building is where they make and store the cognac (the process is long, I think they said that it takes at least three years all told). In the big room where they store all of the cognac, 2% of all of the cognac that they produce evaporates (it smells fantastic). That 2% is called la part des anges (the part for the angels) and it constitutes the equivalent of hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles of cognac each year. The fungus that grows on the walls of the building is nourished by this vapor. Pretty cool, I thought.

At the end of the visit there was a tasting...of grape juice (well, for those of us under the age of 18 :( ). I decided that maybe cognac isn't the ideal gift to bring my parents since I'm not allowed to buy it or drink it, and probably not even bring it into the states.

Yesterday evening, Elizabeth, Benedicte, Alice, and I went to a fashion show. Yes, I went to a fashion show. Never thought I'd see the day, but there you go. Benedicte warned me that the French are never timely, and sure enough, the show didn't start until more than an hour after the doors (were supposed to have) opened. I found it pretty interesting, although it started to drag on a bit. In any event, it was definitely a new experience for me.

This morning I made pancakes for Alice and me (they didn't turn out that well; I think that the french version of baking powder didn't really work out for some reason). Then I went to the market again with Benedicte. I bought three baguettes all by myself! For lunch we had roti de boeuf and potato galettes that I made, and a caramel apple cake for dessert. I think I'm going to need AFS to reserve another airplane seat for me, I'll be so fat by the time I go home!

Speaking of food, I did promise a summary of French cuisine. What I've found quite different is the layout of their meals. First we eat some sort of appetizer course. That could be tomatoes with vinaigrette, or a melon wedge, or a pureed soup. Then there is the main course, which is composed of two elements: vegetable tart and salad, or chicken and rice, or stuffed tomatoes and potato cakes, or what have you. Then either yogurt or fruit compote, or a more substantial dessert. If there wasn't an appetizer course, then there is a cheese course in between the main course and dessert. And of course, bread all day every day.

For breakfast I eat a small yogurt (they have so much yogurt here--I eat it at LEAST once every day) and two or three pieces of yesterday's bread. Stephane and Benedicte drink coffee every morning with their breakfast, and dip their bread in it, but Alice and I drink orange juice. Lunch is just as important (if not more substantial than) dinner, but the same courses apply to both meals.

The moral of this story: I'd better watch my weight!


  1. I wouldn't be so sure that you need to watch your weight. As has been noted by many before me, it's the American, not the French, way of eating that seems to foster obesity. As far as I know, no one is quite sure why, but what a happy circumstance!

  2. Hello Fred and I agree with you.
    Also, Sarah, I think you should try drinking hot chocolate in the morning and getting bread and putting like jam or something on it and then dipping it in the chocolate. We did that with Mme Dupuy and it was SO GOOD! So I think you should do it.

    - Hannah

  3. I fully expect you to put on a French fashion show for us when you return. It's totally not the same here without you. The wetlands are still here, protecting us from tsunamis. Are you protected in France? I've heard that there are lots of giant waves over there.

    1. By the way, I have been replying to your other posts. It looks like this is the only one that made it through, which is a pity!