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Aug 4, 2014

My Secret Lover: Chèvre Sarriette

THE STORY:

One day, I am walking down the street next to my daughter's friend, who is American but born and raised in Paris and 6 years old at the time. We always speak in English to each other, and she calmly tells me, "I have a secret lover." In the end it turns out she's not doing anything horribly inappropriate or precocious for a 6-year old; the only problem with this American is her English.



The French use the word "lover" ("amoureux") in the same way that we would, but they also use it in the same way we would talk about somebody who was simply a crush. So even small children will say they are "amoureux" or "amoureuse" ("in love"). I'm still not used to it, even after a couple years living here and countless crushes discussed in great detail ("Well, these two boys are both in love with me. But I'm not in love with either of them. Yet.").

Perhaps it is the French feeling that the intensity of the emotion has nothing, really, to do with age, or even appropriateness. Perhaps they simply throw the term around more loosely than we Puritanical Americans. Or perhaps, they simply don't have a good word for an infatuation or crush. Just another example of how even when you're speaking your own language, there are so many ways to get tripped up.

THE CHEESE: Chèvre Sarriette

Chèvre Sarriette (Goat Cheese with Savory Herbs) is a lovely, herb-coated goat's cheese that is a very close cousin to Chèvre au Piment Espelette. Made in the same place, Poitou-Charentes, the two are made with the same raw goat's milk and the same method of production until the very end. That's where they differ. While one is rubbed and aged with dried ground chilis, the other is dried and aged much more simply, with a sprinkle of dried savory at the end.


It's a thick, sliceable, wonderfully creamy cheese. Besides the obvious savory infusion from the dried savory, the cheese itself contains hints of the herbs and flowers upon which the goats graze. The taste is a little more pure than it's chili-covered cousin, but still rich and multi-layered. It's a delightful  savory cheese (pardon the pun) that's very easy to like.

THE CONNECTION:

The word "sarriette" translates as the herb savory, but it cannot be used to mean "savory" in the sense of delicious- .. It's just ripe for mistakes in English. Originally, however, I actually choose this cheese because the word sounds so much like "serviette", which is another word that trips up English-speaking kids growing up in France. One day when I'm chaperoning the kids to the swimming pool, the girl with the "secret lover" asks me to pass her the napkin. When I look around confused, she finally has to switch to French to communicate. She wants her serviette which, depending on the context, can translate as either "napkin" or "towel".

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