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Food, Art, Culture, and Expression in the French Alps

 Gratin Dauphinois

Every other Thursday we wander over to Notre Dame and make our way to the CEA program office. FACE is an event that takes place in order for students to truly appreciate not only French culture, but the just as important French cuisine.

Each week our program director, the wonderfully helpful Patrick Foley, invites community members to share stories about Grenoble, as well interesting opportunities for American students that are taking place around the city.
 Escargot baking in the oven

FACE is a time for students to gather and relax, catch up with one another, and feast on delicious treats. Though we do in fact learn quite a bit about regional specialties, as well as how to prepare traditional French meals. FACE allows students to not only explore the region where they are studying more and learn about the significance of its local traditions. It also gives the study abroad program a “feel at home” vibe. It is something to look forward too, where everything is consistently changing and you are speaking a new language each day. FACE gives students a few hours to enjoy the company of students who are in a similar situation and experiencing all the same things. It is less of an event, and more a gathering of friends to eat and enjoy others company.
 Exploring Voiron with Danica, CEA Student
Each FACE meeting features a different theme; so far we have had Gratin Dauphinois and Escargot, Crepes, Chaud Vert as well as a day trip to Voiron to explore the Chartreuse caves. Each meeting exposes students to a different regional specialty, as well as just traditional French cuisine. We usually assist our program director in preparing each meal and thus it is a bit of cooking lesson as well.
Gratin Dauphinois is a specialty of potatoes, cream and quite a bit of salt. It is absolutely delicious, as are escargot. Surprisingly enough, snails are a wonderful treat when soaked in butter. We also learned how to make crepes, although some were more talented than others in creating perfect ones.

Chaud vert, is a twist on classic hot chocolate. It is mixed with Chartreuse, which is a liquor made in Grenoble. It is prepared by monks in the Chartreuse mountains surrounding Grenoble.
 Our day trip to Voiron was to visit the distillery where Chartreuse is made. We met our program director, and took a train to the small town of Voiron, which interestingly enough is where most of the chocolate in Grenoble is from as well. We spent the day taking a tour through the caves which hold several types of Chartreuse including Chartreuse elixir, which includes more than 100 medicinal plants and flowers, and is said to be a tonic that can be used to aid with gestational issues.


FACE allows us to learn about traditions that are important in the region where we live. Courtesy of our ever amazing program director, next week we look forward to 'Cuisse de Grenouille' otherwise known as frog legs. Bon Appetite!

Zamzam Abdulgani is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in the French Alps. She is currently a junior at Washington State University.

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