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 Google.fr, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. judithworks says:

    I can’t watch these horror shows – always need a big bowl of pasta after I read about the event.

  2. I can normally pass on the TV extravaganzas. Sometimes one will capture me, but I prefer to read summaries. I would not pass on the clafoutis (with an s), however. I am also with you on the bread pudding, Evelyne. 🙂 –Curt

  3. My immediate comfort food : a slice of gruyère an some crackers.
    ( tout bas : kit et kat )
    amicalement ! 🙂

    • Je suis d’accord avec toi! C’est ce que je faisais en France, le pays des meilleurs fromages au monde. Le gruyère ici est hors de prix, comme le sont tous les fromages français. Maintenant tu m’as mis l’eau à la bouche 🙂

  4. I almost always ignore the ongoing drama in Washington. Even when there is so much relevance, the political posturing gets in the way. Comfort food, though, that’s a topic I would never pass by. I have comfort foods in all categories – breakfast (pancakes) – lunch (clam chowder) – dinner (the list is long) and dessert – another long list – and pie and ice cream are their own categories.

  5. Evelyne,
    maybe we should just deliver to Dr. Blasey Ford a slice of your clafoutis. She needs it.
    Others do not even deserve the pits.
    Your husband.

  6. Unfortunately,
    I saw the first two hearing that you speak of and now have heard the latest. Sigh.
    This entire country needs comfort food and your clafoutis looks wonderful so I will try to make it. I made and upside down peach and blueberry corn bread in a cast iron skillet. Topped with whipped cream it soothes our tummies and souls.
    Cheers!

    • Of all people, I know how you feel and the good news is to know that we are millions (men and women) who think alike. It helps even more than comfort food, right?
      Now, though, I want your peach and blueberry corn bread. Never had any!

  7. Behind the Story says:

    The clafoutis looks delicious.
    I was out of the country for the Clarence Thomas hearings. I was here for the other two you mention, but I don’t remember them permeating the airwaves as much as the news does now. I have been paying attention to the Cavanaugh hearings, and yes, I do need comfort food. My favorites, too, are on the sweet side. I used to love to bake, but since I live alone, I’ve stopped baking. I buy baked goods one slice at a time.

    • Reading your blog regularly, Nicki, I know how you feel on both the news and the baking aisles 🙂
      I agree with you that constant news flood our lives. It becomes harder and harder to sort through the flow. The positive side, however, is that less and less people, including privileged ones, have the guarantee to remain immune to exposure if they have lacked respect and character in the past and seek higher power. It should not be a purge, but making sure someone in charge of the fate of millions is the best person we can choose remains to me the least we can do in this otherwise great land.
      I’m also with you about baked goods one slice at a time. Even though I love to bake I also enjoy baked goods from a restaurant, café or bakery. Then I choose the ones I cannot make myself, either because they are too complex or use hard to find ingredients.

  8. We made clafoutis in our French cooking class and I seem to remember the chef saying that they left the cherry pits in for the flavour – I can’t find any reference to that in my notes though. Still, a delicious dessert, no matter how you spell it!

  9. Bread pudding is also a favored comfort food here. I haven’t made it in a long time because you need enough people to eat it and I only know how to make a large portion.

  10. I’ll stick to my rosbif 🙂

    I’ve just drafted a novel set mainly in India. Never having been there I’ve had the sense to have it – including some essential Indian words – checked through by someone who lives there. It’s bad enough getting one’s own language wrong.

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