Food and Language: Bon Appétit!

LaRochelle Harbour, France

Food and Language- Bon Appétit!

Let me tell you about one of my most memorable French meals. I was in LaRochelle, France at a month-long, international symposium for French teachers. It was the tradition of the organizers to award a prize at the end of the month for the best novel written in the Francophone world during the previous year. Some of us were ‘volunteered’ for the selection committee, and we were given the nominated books to read, with the idea that we would come together on a given evening and make our decision.

On the evening in question, we were picked up and driven by boat across the harbor to the restaurant. Our private meeting room was on the top floor overlooking the harbor. There we were presented with a wonderful, 5-course meal, complete with (many) wines. Between each course, we would discuss one of the books and at the end of the meal we came to a final decision. This was unlike any committee meeting I had ever attended in Canada! But how wonderful, to take the time to enjoy good food, interesting company and discuss books!

Food is an important part of any culture. Learning French has immensely enriched not only my intellectual world, but my culinary world as well.  The dishes below tend to be part of French-Canadian cuisine, often a variation of the original French version. Here in no particular order are examples from the wonderful world of traditional French/Francophone foods that have become part of my world:


1.       La tourtière– a wonderful meat pie, traditionally served on Christmas Eve in a French-Canadian household


2.       La bûche de Noël– a French chocolate log  also served at Christmas


3.       Les crêpes– well known but so versatile- A great memory for me was eating them at  crêperies in Normandy, France


4.       Le croque-monsieur et la croque-madame – “Mr. Crunch” exceptionally good variations on a baked or grilled cheese,/ ham sandwich with sauce- found in many Parisian bistros and brasseries- The croquet-madame has a fried egg on top!


5.       Le croquembouche-This is a cone-shaped ‘tree’ made up profiteroles (cream puffs) and caramel sauce. I made one for our Christmas meal a few years ago-not as spectacular as  a chef’s version, but very good.


6.       La poutine– This is a French-Canadian special- the French fries, with gravy and curd cheese are not really my style, but a signature dish that has been adopted by Burger Kings across the country!


7.       La tarte au sucre– Sugar pie- usually with a maple flavor. Sweet, sweet! but very good- found in a sugar shack-

une cabane au sucre!


8.       Mille-feuille- (a thousand leaves) layers of puff pastry with a custard filling and topped with icing


9.       Grand-pères- Maple syrup dumplings, served with ice cream. I have to include this because it makes me think of my friend Suzanne. She was a wonderful teacher who used to serve these with great enthusiasm to her students.


10.   La Poire belle hélène– I made a short online video course on this one- you can view the introduction by clicking on the link to your right:



La Poire Belle Hélène

There you have it! Now it’s your turn.  Tell me the dishes that for you represent the French-speaking world. Or, share any dishes that you associate with any culture.  Write in the comments below…your email is never published or shared.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.