Bonbons, Macarons, Apple pie and Tompouces

It is often said that time flies when you’re having fun, and time certainly flies here in Beauvais. I noticed that I haven’t placed an update in quite a while, so I’ll try to give you a short overview of my life here in France since my last update.

The courses here are interesting and almost seem like a continuation of the courses about nutrition and health, which I followed earlier in Wageningen. The most striking difference between Wageningen and Beauvais regarding the work that you have to do as a student, is the amount of presentations. Nearly every week we have to do research on a certain topic in groups of 4 or 5 and prepare a presentation of 10-15 minutes about this. It seems hugely important that every member of the group has something to say during the presentation and the slides are always full of text. Personally, I prefer the presentation style used in Wageningen with only 1 or 2 presenters and most empty slides. This makes the presentations less chaotic and less boring because the presenters will not read their texts of the slides. But I guess that different cultures come with different ideas of how presentations should be done!

Of course, I did not stay in Beauvais all the time; I visited Paris on a few occasions as well as some other places. In Paris, I visited the famous Louvre museum, which certainly receives a lot of tourist attraction: we had to wait in a queue for over 2 hours in the rain to get into the museum. I wish I had known about the ‘secret entrances’ before coming there. The Louvre has 4 entrances, of which 2 are unknown of by most people and are thus way less crowded. Those entrances were shown to me on a guided tour I did in Paris and I certainly regretted not having known about them before! Of course, we were also shown all the famous sight sees in Paris and I think I’m getting the hang of Paris’ metro system by now. Other places I have visited include Chantilly and Compiègne. In both of these places, I visited a castle. I even had a lunch in Chantilly’s castle, where I tried snails. The snails in themselves were not so interesting taste-wise, but the dish was great. The French surely know how to cook! Besides visiting the castle in Compiègne, I also wandered around the streets. I’m still surprised by the sheer number of boulangeries, patisseries and chocolatiers. While admiring some chocolate work in a particularly nice chocolatier in I spotted an easter egg with a price of €78.25, something you would never see in The Netherlands!

Although seeing all those nice cakes and pastries is very inspiring, I haven’t been able to reproduce them very well here as the kitchen is unfortunately not as well equipped as the one I was using in Wageningen. Despite that, I managed to make some classic Dutch tompouces for an international dinner, fondant au chocolate (for the love of chocolate!) and a Dutch apple pie for LaSalle’s open door day (more on that later). However, I’m glad that there’s a kitchen at all, because most students don’t have one and are forced to eat in the school’s restaurant where the food is not so good or healthy. I think this is quite strange as you can major in ‘Alimentation et Santé’ at LaSalle Beauvais, so there surely is enough expertise about healthy eating here, but it seems that this is not translated into healthy meals in the school’s restaurant. Even our professors make fun of the food in the school’s restaurant!

Recently I helped at the open door’s day at LaSalle Beauvais, for which I was asked to prepare some traditional food from my country. Of course, apple pie came to mind: very Dutch and easy to serve in bite-size pieces. Mixing over 3 kilograms of pie dough with my bare hands was a bit time consuming but I guess it gives you new found respect for the versatility of the ingredients and the artisans of the past, who had didn’t have a choice but doing everything by hand. On this day I also saw some great use of the school’s kitchen (this one is different from the one in the school restaurant): beautiful bonbons, delicious macarons and tasty cookies were produced here to cater the visitors. The quality of these little goodies displayed of a high level of expertise! As for the non-food related work I did during the open day I managed to promote Wageningen University a bit and convinced some people to come to Wageningen. I hope to see them again when I’m back in Wageningen!

I think this covers the most interesting things I’ve experienced lately, so hereby I’ll conclude this update. A bientôt!