Mar 17, 2014

Très Sexy: Sarments d'Amour


I am in the land of the French accent, acknowledged almost universally -- and especially by my husband -- as the sexiest accent in the world. (Actually fourth (!) sexiest, after Irish, Italian, and Scottish, according to a poll of 5,000 women done in 2009). And yet, I receive many compliment on my accent when I speak in French, which has been called "charming", "sexy", and my favorite: "adorable". Then there's the one that initially flattered me till I realized it was more of a back-handed compliment: "French-Canadian".

My object all along has been to have no accent, of course, but it appears that I am not quite there. My level of French, which is fluent but not perfect, is evidently just as charming to the people here as it is to us when they speak English wees a leetle 'je ne sais quoi' in ze way zay prononce ze words.

Sometimes, I can hear the difference between what I want to produce and what I actually say. At these times, I can be heard muttering under my breath English sentences with a French accent: I am trying to figure out what level my accent is and to hear what it must sound like to them. At other times, I would swear my accent is perfect, only to be asked either, "And where are you from that you speak such lovely French?" or "How long have you lived in France?" My greatest consolation at these moments is that I can honestly answer "from the United States" or "just a few years" and that either answer is sure to elicit a look of shock. I never expected an American accent to be so well received, anywhere, in any context.

I must tell you, this reminds me of when I was backpacking around Asia in my early twenties with my friend Andi, and we became friends with a Swedish guy. He told me rather lasciviously that I should go to Sweden, because I would be a huge hit with all the men there. I asked, rather surprised, "But aren't all the women in Sweden tall, blond, blue-eyed, and beautiful?" And he said, "Exactly! You would be so exotic!"  Hmmm...I'm not sure how to take that.

Well, it turns out that by giving our daughters the gift of bilingualism, we are inadvertently depriving them of the gift of a sexy accent. Eet eez too bahd for zem, but for me, ooh la la, I sound fantasteek!

THE CHEESE: Sarments d'Amour

As you can imagine just from looking at the photo, Sarments d'Amour, also called (less poetically) Chèvre Sarment, is a huge hit with the kids. The kids dive for them like little cheese popsicles, which I suppose is what they are -- cute goat cheese treats on a stick. In fact, "sarment" means "branch" -- in this case more of a twig, actually. In classic French style, the twigs come from grape vines.

The fact is, besides the cuteness factor, the kids -- and grown-ups -- like the taste, too, which is tangy but not overpoweringly goaty. The cheese has that sort of thick, dry-creamy texture of a fabulous New York cheesecake.

It's a raw goat's milk cheese made Ardèche goats in the  Rhône-Alpes in Eastern France. Because of the tiny bite-size, and the handy little stick, Sarments d'Amour are some of the only cheeses regularly served before a meal as aperitifs, though they make fabulous little desserts as well.


This cheese is Sarment d'Amour, and Sarment sounds almost like "charmant", but not quite, much as my charming French sounds almost like a French-person's, but not quite. And the French find my accent sexy, evidently making the language of amour sound even hotter.


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