Septembre 16, 2017. Le fromage – I like it best when I can taste it in my nose. Et cette semaine…nous allons faire des baguettes…because I can’t run.

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Resting the legs, making baguettes and then a return to running.

Bonjour mes amis.  Comment ça va?  Moi?  Je suis très fatiguée.  Alors, je me repose.  Cette semaine je vais faire des baguettes.  Je ne peut pas courir parce que je suis fatiguée.

As you read through this – I have but one comment – Running is easier than baking.

Our family is truly blessed to have a close connection with France and my children love all things French, especially la nourriture et les repas longs / the food and lingering meals.

I’m proud to say they’ll pick a good cheese over a piece of cake any day.  Shopping for, eating, and enjoying cheese is a bond and connection our family enjoys and a bond many of our friends don’t quite get.

I love that as a teenager, my youngest daughter would say “I like the cheese best when I can taste it in my nose.”  And still today, she’ll call to tell me about the cool cheese she found at the supermarket.

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But we can’t find a good baguette to go with the cheese, so we’re making our own.

Ma belle mère recently sent us a French baguette pan.  Reading the recette / recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box AND ah hello…what the heck is a cube of yeast?

Turns out 1 cube equals 42 grams.  And 42 grams equals 2 packets of dry yeast.

Continuing, I reviewed the recipe (in French and English), organized the ingredients and set to work.  I had so much fun with my apron.

Day one making baguettes:  J’ai fait trois baguettes / I made three baguettes.  Les baguettes tasted like biscuits and they didn’t have the wonderful crispy, crunchy crust of a baguette. 

Results:  Not a baguette

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Day two making baguettes: J’ai fait trois plus baguettes / I made three more baguettes.  Kneading more and resting the dough longer, and still the taste of a biscuit.  And, although I increased the cooking time the crust still wasn’t crispy or crunchy.

Results:  Still not a baguette.

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For the first two attempts, I used the recipe on the back of the new baguette pan box, which called for milk; I’m thinking that maybe this is why the baguettes tasted like biscuits.

Day three making baguettes, a different recipe and finally a run:  J’ai fait une baguette avec une nouvelle recette / I made one baguette with a new recipe.

I also managed to get in a four mile run after five days of rest.

I worked through the recipe then set off on the run as the dough was rising.

The dough had an awesome rise, a spray of water and into the 400 degree fahrenheit oven. 

Thirty minutes later, I opened the oven to find a HUGE baguette with a crispy, crunchy crust.

The interior texture was somewhat improved as was the flavor, but the giant baguette still lacked the tell tale air pockets of a real French baguette.

Results:  Almost a baguette!  and HUGE.

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Carbs anyone?  Free bread, j’ai beaucoup!

Again, running…way easier than baking.

So – 

How’s the 50 mile ultra marathon training going?  Well, I wasn’t able to run the full training schedule this week as I needed so much rest after the hardest trail half marathon of my life (you’ll be happy to know – I did get 3rd place in the 50-55 female division).

It was an incredibly steep and technical trail.  I ran every section I could, but there was no running up the hills (there’s a difference between a hill and an incline).

I ran all the inclines, but the hills…these hills were made for walking…

Let’s just say that this was a once and done race.  Not going to do that one again.  No, not even if you give me a coupon.

The 50 mile race in November is really going to be a mental challenge for me.  I’m sure it will totally tax me physically (as long as the knee holds up), but it will exhaust me more so mentally.  I’m going to want to quit.  I know how I am.  I’m not as tough as I claim to be.

How are the knees?  After experiencing a lot of knee pain last week, I was actually able to do the hardest half marathon of my life with no knee pain.  My knees did not hurt at all during the 13.1 mile run from hell.  Afterwords, they ached.  I’m hoping the knee issue will soon pass.

It’s the weirdest thing.

Je ne sais pas pourqoui.

What’s up with your toe nails?  I lost a toe nail as a result of the full marathon last month.  Not pretty, but no new damage.  The toe socks are awesome.  But I’m going to need a good pedicure come November.

How’s the French coming?  WOW on the words I learned this week by simply following a recipe.  And our weekly sit down lesson went well.  Adding the videos to the audio is really paying off.  I’m thinking immersion trip in 2018.

Nouveaux mots / New words.

  • recette / recipe
  • farine /  flour
  • sel / salt
  • beurre / butter
  • lait / milk
  • levure de boulanger / yeast
  • sucre / sugar
  • emiettez / crumble
  • ajoutez / stir
  • incorporez / mix
  • recouvrez / cover
  • pâte  / dough
  • pétrissez / knead
  • faites cuire / cook or bake
  • moule / baking tin

Belle journée à vous tous!

Suz

July 8, 2017. Don’t drink the wine…Lost in Translation – juste a typical afternoon avec ma belle-mère en France.

IMG_2899It’s one thing to learn French but the whole French culture issue is another story.  I love our bi-cultural family and all the experiences it has afforded.  However, Being an American married to a man whose Mom is French can be both a challenge and a blessing.

Moments that offended my 20 year old self now endear my 50 year old heart.  We are the best of friends but some of the humorous things that have occurred over the years – oh my…

Here’s a snapshot of an afternoon from our recent visit to France.

When ma belle-mère told me this summer “Don’t order a wine,” I just smiled. I should start by saying that over the last 30 plus years, I’ve said to my husband a thousand times “I know that your mom didn’t mean to be rude, but…”

I can’t tell you how many times, she has said things to me that if someone else heard them they would cringe. But, I’ve learned that it’s just – what I’ve come to call lost in translation or LIT.  Over the years I’ve watched for this in other non-native English speakers, and it really exists. It’s hard to describe, but in a nutshell as good as her English is, the little subtleties that occur in a language are LIT. You can translate words, but trying to translate a subtlety is extremely difficult if not impossible. I’m sure I’d have the same issue if I spoke French or another language, but I don’t – cause oh –  I can’t – but I’m trying.

“Don’t order a wine,” she said as we walked out of the house one afternoon heading downtown to people watch. “Quoi?” I said. “Don’t order a wine, they’ll think you’re a drunk,” she responded. I’m sure the look on my face prompted her follow-up. “French people don’t drink wine in the afternoon – they’ll think you’re a drunk,” she grinned. “Okay… then what should I order?” I said, laughing dans ma tête. “A Panache,” she grinned.

Now, this was not my first or second or even third trip to France. I’ve been to France many times; I’ve been to French gatherings, restaurants, homes, etc… It’s different but it’s not that different. I’ve never been uncomfortable and I don’t ever recall anyone ever being rude to me. I usually just follow along and I’ve never had any problems. So, as I explain this, I don’t want it to sound like she was trying to school me in French etiquette. She wasn’t. She was really just trying to say, have a great time.  No for real, that’s all she meant. Don’t read into it. There was no sarcasm intended. She just wanted us to have a nice time and of course to subtly remind us that the French don’t drink wine in the afternoon while people watching.  LIT at its finest.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I planned on naming her Danielle. Until the day I got a letter in the mail from Ma belle-mère that said “I guess a name like Jennifer just wouldn’t be good enough for you guys.”  What she really meant was – she liked the name Jennifer and she was tossing it out there as an option. My daughter’s name is Jennifer.

Just so you know, I personally would not have ordered a wine in the afternoon. Normally I would have ordered a grand crème to wake me up and my husband would have had a Belgian beer. But, this day I ordered a Panache.

Believe me there have been times that I’ve shaken my head thinking – wow that did not come out very nice. But there’s never any ill intent. It’s merely LIT.

I’ve learned to listen for what she is not saying – rather than to what she is saying. And it’s always with love and good intentions.

Bisous ma belle-mere.

Originally written as a guest blog for one of my favorite travel sites.  Edited here to shorten.

Suz