Language students get a taste of France

French class at Ashland High School got a little sweeter on Tuesday.

Thierry Chouard, a pastry chef born and trained in France, visited French classes this week to introduce students to his art while speaking his native tongue.

Lauren Schaffer brought Chouard to her class to expand their exposure to all things French.

"I love to give all my students practical, cultural hands-on activities," she said. "Food and cooking is such a big part of the French culture."

Over her 17 years teaching French in Ashland, she has introduced students to French lawn and card games and let them try their hand at Impressionist painting &

all projects funded through Ashland Schools Foundation grants.

Chouard has lived in Ashland since 1994, and Schaffer met him several years ago when he was serving lunch at the high school and finally got him into her classroom this year.

"Once I realized I had a trained pastry chef, I had to do something," she said.

Chouard came to class sans chef hat and clad in a T-shirt labeled "Ze Chef." He led students through a simple pate &

224; tarte recipe to create "dough for tarts," shortbread and cookies, combining sucre, beurre, oeuf and farine &

sugar, butter, egg and flour. While the dough chilled, he gave them demonstrations on the proper way to slice a strawberry and a brief history of his job, including a stint with Club Med and a 15-year home business in Ashland, the Queen of Hearts Tarts.

Developing the basic recipe is a science, he told them.

"After that, it is an art," he said.

Although they didn't know every word, students said they understood the context well enough to keep up with the cooking pace and they enjoyed the surprises of the class.

"It's exciting to go out of schedule because French class is usually so predictable," said senior Djamika Smith. "I don't really cook very often, but I think it looks like fun."

She and classmate Erika Perkinson went to France last summer on a trip led by Schaffer. Perkinson said they appreciated her attempts to make the language interesting.

"We did a whole unit on Paris and that was cool," Perkinson said.

To some students, the cooking was a completely new experience.

"I think it's fun, especially since I never really made French food before," said junior Tracy Marvin. "It's kind of exciting to learn how to make French food, especially French pastries. Dessert is better."

Even Chouard said the day was a learning experience.

"For the students, it's a completely new dimension to learn pastries in French by a French guy," Chouard said. "This is a new experience for me too."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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