French Friday: French Comfort Food With a Twist

This post was just published when my favorite editor texted me.

Mom! You wrote cherry cheery. Three times!

I replied that since I was in my car, on my way to Trader Joe’s, I would attend to the matter later on. Which was great since a smile followed my immediate embarrassment.

Today of all days I likely wanted to feel cheery.

Now that I’m back home I am following my editor’s advice, of course.

What I did is what we call a lapsus révélateur in French. I would not go as far as calling it a Freudian slip but simply a revealing slip.


Unlike millions I didn’t watch the Thomas’s hearings in 1991.

Unlike millions I didn’t watch the O. J. Simpson’s murder case in 1994.

Unlike millions I didn’t watch the Clinton-Lewinsky’s scandal unfold and lead to President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.

Starting a new life thousands of miles away from my native France and caring for very young children didn’t allow me the possibility. My husband briefed me since he listened to the radio as he commuted to work, watched snippets on TV on his lunch breaks, and spoke with colleagues. Retrospectively this bubble of isolation was probably more a gift than a curse.

Yesterday, however, like millions, I was able to watch the Kavanaugh’s hearings from the beginning to the end.

I could write an entire blog post about the topic. I won’t. We don’t need more divide right now.

Watching hours of TV was a first for my husband and me. I grew up without TV. My parents bought their first set when I was in high school. Together my husband and I spent years without a TV set and today we still don’t have cable.

Although yesterday was a turning point in our country, I don’t recommend watching TV for hours.

What I recommend, though, when we go through emotionally charged times, is a slice of comfort food. Another phrase that I discovered in the U.S.

American comfort food remains different from one region to another, from one family to another, and even from one person to another.

My idea of comfort food stands on the sweet side of the aisle. In the States it is bread pudding. In France it’s clafoutis.

I found out recently that even comfort food could be a topic of discussion.

Early September I hosted my monthly book club. Since I am the only French-born in our group we never share French books, but I still do my best to add a French touch to our meetings. Since we met mid morning I baked a clafoutis this time.

From, mouth-watering pictures and everything you want to know about this dessert.

I am the only French-born in my book club but not the only French speaker. One of my friends was born and brought up in Belgium and we always speak French together.

Our American friends loved my clafoutis that they found amazing. I never get tired of the American enthusiasm.

“How do you make it?” asked one of them.

“Actually this is not a typical clafoutis,” I started. “The traditional one is baked with cherries and I used blackberries for mine.”

“Less work,” added another of my friends. “Pitting cherries is a pain.”

“You do not pit cherries for a clafoutis,” I said.

“Oh! So you spit the cherry stone?”

I nodded, mimicking the way to do so.

“Not for little kids, then,” concluded another friend.

The list of baked goods I stopped making when parents or teachers told me they were potentially dangerous for little kids grew in my head 🙂

“But there is a reason behind,” I went on. “The clafoutis was first made in Auvergne, a central France region. Auvergne people are said to be cheap and since clafoutis was sold by weight, they kept the cherries with the pit.”

“Funny!” said the most diplomatic of our group. “Well, pitted or not, this dessert is excellent. How do you call it already?”

“Clafoutis,” I said, and my Belgian friend joined me as I spelled out C-L-A-F-O-U-T-I-S.

“Oh,” she said. “I don’t put an S at the end.”

“I think both are correct spellings,” I said, realizing that I had probably never read the word with an S in the U.S. but always with one in France.

This clafoutis was already twisted, so we went on, enjoying each a slice as we discussed our book.

Later that day, I got a text from my Belgian friend who said that she Googled ‘clafoutis’ and that I was right about the spelling. Clafoutis was written with an S. I replied with a funny face emoji and added that even French native speakers met occasional challenges.

Which is the reason why authors are often reminded to stay away from foreign words, unless there are crucial to the story and ring authentic.

This is why I cringe when I read choux and not chou, or Pierette and not Pierrette, or still “votre secret es dans de bonnes mains,” an awkward sounding sentence to start with, but moreover with wrong subject/verb accord, in otherwise excellent American novels.

Writing in another language is tricky. Believe me 🙂

Despite our different way to spell the infamous Auvergne dessert, my Belgian friend and I agreed: With or without an S a clafouti(s) is yummy.

The one I favor is very simple to make.


And very quick to polish, too, when comfort food is needed.









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