I am convinced I am in a fairy tale. The town of Cluny where our course will take place looks like it is straight out of a storybook. Specifically, walking around Cluny this first day reminded me of that opening scene from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. You know, the one where Belle strolls past bakeries, cheese shops, charcuterie shops, and the town square on her way to the book shop to pick out a new book, getting intercepted by friendly townspeople at every turn. I swear that scene was based off of the town of Cluny!
This first introduction to Cluny came after meeting the class and Dr. Haggblom at the Gare de Lyon train station, taking the high speed train and bus to Cluny, and we dropping off our luggage off at our hostel- which used to be used for candle-making back in the 900’s for the nearby abbey. After our short introductory walk around town with our professor, the majority of my classmates and I decided to have dinner at a restaurant in the center of town. As I am a huge fan of French cuisine, I was excited to try two classic dishes: ratatouille and crème brûlée. Although this ratatouille was not exactly what I had imagined it would be like- granted my preconception was mainly based on yet another Disney movie- both were delicious!
#FoodSciOrDie Fun Fact: Differences in heating methods during the process of making crème brûlée are responsible for the contrast between the creamy and crunchy textures of this famous French dessert. The “crème” part of crème brûlée translates to “cream”. A hot water bath is used to evenly coagulate the egg in the creamy custard, as steam heats its top while the bottom is heated indirectly via the hot water. If you baked the crème brûlée instead of using a hot water bath, you’d end up with scrambled eggs! The “brûlée” part of crème brûlée translates to “burned”. A torch is used to burn a thin layer of sugar atop the final custard, melding the sugar into a crunchy glass, an identifying attribute of this sweet.
Throughout dinner, my classmates and I began to get to know each other and I could already tell that we were all going to get along pretty well! Sure, the introductions started out with the obligatory exchange of names/ majors/ years, but soon conversation began to flow naturally. As the late evening sun faded over the village as we walked back to our hostel, I was really looking forward to the upcoming two weeks!