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The City Journals

Brighton High students get taste of French culture, food

Jul 25, 2017 10:06AM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High French students gets a taste of French culture and food through La Caille field trip. (Margaret Flynn/Brighton High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Brighton High French teacher Lauren McCombs wants her students to do more than recite French phrases from a textbook. She wants them to experience the culture of the French people.
“When students incorporate cultural experiences into their language study, it becomes inseparable in helping them with their understanding,” she said. “They see people differently. They interpret culture differently. They’re more open-minded and conscientious.”
McCombs creates opportunities to mix in stories from her travels and life in France for two years. She also pulls up articles and videos online so students are reading in French and seeing what they’re learning while munching on crepes they make in class.
“We’ll look at the architecture of cities we see there to here, compare small towns to huge cities, see the differences from our mountains to their beaches. We compare things students relate to, such as movies and schools. I found a French report card online so we learned how harsh and honest teachers’ comments are and the differences of our systems,” she said.
But McCombs knows that’s not enough. Her advanced students also have the opportunity to participate in the French fair at Brigham Young University, where they experience reciting a monologue or performing a song or dance in French so they further immerse themselves into the language.
But the real motivating cultural event, McCombs has found, is to reward her advanced students with a year-end celebration at La Caille restaurant in Sandy. This year was the fifth time Brighton students have gone to lunch at the French restaurant.
“It’s feels like we travel to France to taste the cuisine and to walk around the immaculate grounds with swans swimming in the lakes and peacocks strutting on the grass. The students are just taken back in awe. It’s amazing,” she said.
The restaurant is set in a building replicating an old stone castle. Twenty-four students climbed the stairs to a medieval-looking private dining room where they were served from a set menu, which included escargot, sorbet, salad, bread, pork tenderloin, vegetables and chocolate mousse.
“The waiter walked us through our utensils so we knew the proper etiquette when trying to eat the escargot. Some found it a fun experience to try the escargot while others were so nervous or found it so unappetizing they shared theirs with their classmates,” McCombs said.
Junior Margaret Flynn said the whole experience is different than eating a typical American meal.
“I found it interesting how the French culture sees eating as more of an experience than many in America,” she said. “They have certain customs like the plating and use of silverware and palate cleansers that are all meant to help those eating have a more enjoyable experience and focuses on the experience of having a good meal rather than seeing eating as a means to an end.”
Classmate and Brighton French Club president Julianne Liu has looked forward to lunch at La Caille.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have received the opportunity to attend lunch at La Caille with some of my favorite classmates over the past few years,” she said. “This event acts as a motivator for many students as we get to celebrate our accomplishments through together exploring the beautiful gardens and enjoying a delicious meal. As a senior and French Club president, this last time was definitely bittersweet; I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with and creating many memories involving this hidden gem of the Salt Lake Valley.”