• Students peel eggplants for zaalouk in the ZAC kitchen

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Upper School students in French 3, 4, and 5 recently tossed aside their Friday routines for a French immersion “Table d'Hôte" right here on the Friends School campus. “La Table d’Hôte” literally means ‘the host’s table'," explained French teacher Kristen Andrews. “It’s a privilege to attend because it’s just for the invited guests of the chef.” In this case, the chefs were the students themselves, all of whom committed to speak only French during the nine-hour culinary and cultural excursion. 

Dividing into two teams the students prepared a multi-course meal featuring zaalouk, a Moroccan-inspired eggplant dish, served with couscous and baguette, chicken with creamy spinach sauce, and haricots verts à la Provençale (green beans), followed by a green salad (“the French eat their salad after the main course in a traditional meal,” Andrews explains), and a variety of French cheese including Port Salut, camembert and chèvre, and a tarte aux pommes avec de la crème chantilly for dessert (apple pie with whipped cream).

“The students watched a video to learn how to roast and peel the eggplant, which a few of them had never tried before. They were already out of their comfort zone, stretching themselves to speak only French, and then we threw them into the kitchen together to make this new dish,” said Andrews.

Of course what would a “Table d'Hôte" be without French-speaking guests? Joining the students and their teachers, including Mme. Binford, were French speakers Dr. Diala Touré, mother of Gabriel Remch ’21, Christian Pavlovich, father of Milo Pavlovich ‘20, Head of School Matt Micciche, and Ann Porcella, Middle School French and Spanish teacher. After an evening filled with laughter, bon mots and enticing aromas, the students bid farewell to their guests and snuggled down under blankets, enjoying their hot chocolate in the Zamoiski Alumni Center living while watching a newly released French movie, “Ma Vie de Courgette” (My Life as a Zucchini).

“The students were really good, Dahira and I are so proud of them,” said Andrews, noting that the experience also yielded results in the classroom. “They got to know each other and us a little better, and they grew more resilient and confident in their language skills.”
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