27 October 2017
Last Saturday I visited Chambord, a Renaissance castle, with the Erasmus student network. I paid ten euro, which allowed me to take a bus with about fifty other international students to the castle. It was about a 45 minute trip from Tours, and we got to see the castle and gardens.
When we arrived, the workers gave everyone an ipad mini with attached earphones. The ipads had a virtual version of the castle on them, with maps, and the ability to see how the different rooms looked during different time periods. You could also click on virtual versions of the paintings and furniture to read a short explanation of each item. All the workers were dressed in period dress–some like aristocrats, some like kings or queens, some like priests, and some like servants. They also did some demonstrated some Renaissance dances and showed us how knights would duel.
The first three floors of the castle were set up with different furniture and artifacts, and the top floor had a modern art exhibit–the collection of Georges Pompidou. You could also go to the top balconies for breathtaking views. The gardens were nice, but not as impressive as some other castles I’ve been to. They did have some nice roses though.
Before we left, we went to a Biscuiterie, a cookie shop and tried ALL of the samples. There was one cookie that had a dried cherry on it and it was so. good.
The next day, on Sunday, I had a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends of mine. We decided to do it that day because it was pretty close to halfway between Canadian and American Thanksgiving. Of course, because it is France, we were not able to find all the ingredients we would normally have needed for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We also don’t have an oven in our dorm kitchenettes, so it limited what we could make. I made a no-bake pumpkin pie cheesecake. We got some canned pumpkin from an “American” store when we were in Paris, which I used for the pumpkin flavoring. For the crust, I didn’t have graham crackers, so I used a Belgian cookies called speculos instead. I crushed up the speculos, (by hand! it took forever) and combined it with sugar and butter, then pressed it into two plastic containers. Then I used fresh real cream whipped together with sugar to substitute for cool whip, since that does not exist in France either. I set the pie in the fridge for about 4 hours, and the resulting pie was a little bit runny but still tasted good.
Since it would be very difficult to cook a turkey without an oven, if we could even find a turkey in France, we used rotisserie chickens. Another person made a salad, some one else made sweet potatoes on a skillet and fall sangria, Zoe made stuffing, someone else made mashed potatoes, and someone else found canned redi whip for the pie. It turned out to be quite the feast.
It was mostly Canadian and American friends of mine who made the food, but we shared some of it with people who had never had a Thanksgiving meal before. They were quite impressed by the pumpkin pie cheesecake. It turned out to be a very successful meal, even if it was weird to have Thanksgiving before Halloween.