French Culture Through Cuisine

Karen Bouwer

FREN 195
Core C1

Course description:

It is said that we are what we eat. No doubt we are also how we eat and why we eat (or not). The French view their cuisine as one of their most important contributions to the world and in this course we will use it as a lens for learning about French culture. We will explore how the uniqueness of French culture(s) is revealed through food practices, views about food, and the role of cuisine in daily life. While we will read a range of texts, France's rich literary heritage provides an abundance of descriptions of gatherings around the table, of feast and famine, enabling us to explore how food and wine are used as metaphors for larger social issues. And, bien sûr, we will eat!

Faculty Bio:

When I reflect on my years of studying French, many of my memories revolve around food: trying out recipes such as quiche lorraine from the recipe book that my dad bought for me in South Africa to discovering cassoulet in the southwest of France or eating merguez, a North-African specialty, in Paris. I started studying French when I was thirteen and now I am Professor of French in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. I enjoy teaching all levels of French and Francophone language, culture and literature as well as African literature and film. My research interests include Francophone African literature, African cinema, and gender. I love all kinds of music, take dance classes, and enjoy reading poetry, especially in my mother tongue Afrikaans.