11 Dec

A taste of my youth

Last September, as I was browsing the aisles of the local supermarket (well, ok, I was looking for the biggest jar of Nutella I could find), I ‘fell’ on the sweets section. There, a familiar pink and yellow packet caught my eye. Carambar! Wow, now, that’s a blast from the past, I can tell you. What I can’t tell you is when was the last time I actually had one of them. Very nearly 20 years ago, give or take a couple of months, I would say.

These excessively chewy caramel sticks are delicious and ridiculously moreish. The only problem with them is that you simply cannot actually chew on them, as they’d pull your teeth out. So you have to be patient and suck on them. There are two main methods for this. You can unwrap one end of the stick and start there, feeling the caramel melt and stretch or, like me, you can fold the stick in half and stuff the whole thing in your mouth. Hmmmmmm.

The added bonus to the Carambar sticks are the jokes. Found on the inside of the wrapper and sent in by, it seems, young fans, they are simply terrible. If I were to explain how bad these are, I could only compare them to Christmas crackers jokes… Here is an example:

Qu’est-ce qu’une catapulte à salade?

Un lance roquette

(Rusties, drop me an e-mail and I’ll explain!)

22 Jul

These little things

I love Provence. I do. Time spent there is the best way to come back to life after a hard year at work, dealing with real life. Even if it’s just for a romantic weekend in May, the blue sky, gentle heat and sprawling markets are enough to make me feel I belong there.

But it’s the summer heat I crave. The sky is still blue, the markets are even larger and there’s the added bonus of the swifts swooping high and screeching their little heads off. I do love that sound, it’s one of those little things.

Forget the madeleines, it’s the sounds of summer I hear when I think of my little corner of Provence, near Carpentras. I bet you thought I would mention the cicadas, didn’t you? Well, of course, they’re part of it, but it’s the swifts I like best. Go figure.

A summer in Provence: all the clichés are there, but they are also so real. Figs so ripe they explode like grenades, fresh goat’s cheese from the Mont Ventoux herds and lavender honey from the little man in Gordes. Breakfast on the terrace with that nice pear jam (yes, really) from the girls in Flassan. That’s of course after you’ve walked to the village to buy bread and croissants. Just because, you know, it’s the holidays, and you deserve it after all.

Oh, how it all comes together…

10 May

Thoughts of home

I was born in Chatillon-sur-Seine, where the river that eventually flows through Paris is no wider than my kitchen! It is a smallish town, in a very rural and satisfyingly French part of the country. Other than the quiet cul-de-sac I grew up on, I only have vague memories of the rest of the town, but I am sure it still feels, looks and smells quintessentially French.

You know the feeling: take a good look and a deep sniff. You could not be anywhere else but in France. In the same way that particular cinnamon ‘taste’ in the air tells you you’ve landed in America or that the spices in the air let you know you’ve arrived in Hong Kong.

I’ve been thinking of going back to Chatillon, for old time’s sake, and GoogleEarthing it does bring back memories of endless hours spent outside with all the neighbourhood kids playing silly games and eating our goûter in the field at the end of the road, watching the small aircraft taking flight.

But don’t get me started on childhood memories, or you’ll hear terrifying stories of church robbers and games of marbles in the churchyard. Don’t ask…

30 Apr

Arnaud’s parakeet

Welcome to my kitchen!

Well, well, well, I’m a blogger… Now, for the ones who know me, this might be a bit scary, but I hope that you, dear ALK friends, will find some of my musings amusing.

So please, do come aboard this rambling train of thoughts, as I fear this will not be the ordered, sophisticated medium I had in mind before starting it. Never mind, we cannot all be Prousts, Hugos or Flauberts…

However, I am sure that through this blog, you will learn very quickly what Arnaud’s Language Kitchen is all about, as I will make sure to share it all with you. I aim to keep you entertained, give you an insight into what makes me tick, and most of all to give you an idea of what it will be like to come to my kitchen for a few lessons, a chat and a piece of cake. So I do hope I can convince you take the plunge and book yourself onto one of my courses. Oh, and do bring a friend or two!

Happy reading.