French Week explores cuisine, history

Geneseo’s 15th annual French Week ran from Nov. 5 to Tuesday Nov. 11, celebrating a different aspect of worldwide French culture every day. While some events were educational, such as speakers and movies, the most interactive and casual was this year’s French Cooking Night which took place at French Club president senior Nathalie Grogan’s house on Thursday Nov. 6.

“Food is always a community thing,” professor of French and western humanities Beverly Evans said. Evans helped plan the event as part of the language department.

“Everybody likes food and everybody has this idea of French food as very gourmet and fashionable,” Grogan added.

Attendees rotated in and out of the kitchen so everyone got a chance to help hands-on in creating dishes from various French regions. The main dish was ratatouille, a vegetarian French classic made with roasted vegetables as spices. The other main dish was poutine, a classic Quebecois meal of French fries and gravy. For appetizers and desserts, people made simple crepes with Nutella and baguettes with cheese.

Attendees ranged from students and faculty to Geneseo residents, including a French family and their two young children. “We were able to meet people and get to know them,” Grogan said.

In addition to this cooking night, which featured what Evans called “the comfort food of various regions,” French Club collaborated with the foreign language department to invite various speakers and a movie director to campus to teach students about French culture.

“We did a lot of new activities we haven’t done in the past … we had different speakers and turnout was very good,” Grogan said. The focus this year was Caribbean with a focus on the immigrant experience and diaspora, with the intention of teaching students that French culture is not concentrated in Europe.

This year’s speakers were Bronx Community College assistant professor of French and Creole Wedsly Guerrier, who spoke about Haiti and film director Arzouma Aime Kompaore, who held a question-answer session and discussion after a screening of his film Hawa.

French Week is not only “an opportunity to have fun at the beginning of November,” as Evans said, but also a practical experience where students can network with alumni who have jobs in French-related professions.

It’s also an opportunity to bring French classes and French Club to the forefront of Geneseo conversations. Many “floating” French Club members who are too busy or have other commitments during general meetings come to French Week events, as well as other interested students such as French speakers and majors.

Grogan said that she loves the opportunity that French week provides to change the stereotype of French Club. Attendees can speak to members and learn that French Club does not require the language, and that it is more than people sitting in a room speaking French together.

According to Evans, this year’s week had the goal of “promoting diversity.” Its variety of speakers and events––especially Cooking Night––brought students together to learn about a club and culture they knew little about before.