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Je suis Charlie

Disclaimer: the following is an opinion piece about recent tragic events in France, if you are after tasty treats please come back soon!

I’m not sure if this is the place to publish this, but as it is somewhere dedicated to my love for France and French culture, it seems as good a place as any. When I turned on the French news yesterday morning I was greeted by a speech about the strength of la république and its foundations – liberté, fraternité, égalité. Urgh. As I got ready for work, I rolled my eyes at the overwhelming patriotism of President Hollande’s speech, reminded of some of the Sarko speeches we had to analyse in French culture at uni. Then I realised why – and suddenly, the reminder of the strengths of la patrie all made sense. Merci, Monsieur Hollande.

The events in Paris on Wednesday were a brutal and tragic violation of free speech in the name of religious extremism. As a journalist, I was shocked by the massacre of 12 people who were just doing their job. Sadly, the  8 journalists killed will be added to the ever-growing list of journos who are killed each year for trying to do their job. This is not good enough, and it must be stopped. In December, Reporters Without Borders published a roundup of violence committed against journalists in 2014. Last year saw 66 journalists killed, 119 kidnapped, 178 imprisoned and 138 flee their country. It’s a journalist’s fundamental responsibility to speak truth to power – whether civil or religious – and this is what Charlie Hebdo did, in their own satirical way.

Reflecting on the Charlie Hebdo attacks now, some things have become abundantly clear. These are:

-That these attacks must not be used to justify further violence targeting Muslim people. People need to be tolerant, now more than ever. Thanks largely to political interference, there is already a strong culture of Islamophobia in France (as there is in Australia), and this must not be aggravated by the attacks.

-That we must be critical of everything we read and hear. Yes, certain Australian politicians will be strutting around inciting fear and issuing travel warnings. Think critically, engage properly with the information and keep informed on the topic. Fear is what terrorists aim to achieve. As a side note, don’t listen to politicians who try to use terrorist attacks to justify xenophobic policy. Nothing good has come of Sarko’s ban the burqa campaign, or Morrison’s inhumane treatment of refugees deported to Papua New Guinea and Nauru, or Marine Le Pen’s batshit crazy hate speeches targeting the Muslim community in France. I really, really hope that the attacks don’t trigger more of this xenophobia, but sadly, they probably will. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

-We have to stay positive. Thankfully, rallies in Paris and around the world are showing that we are. Shows of support from crowds of thousands of people holding up signs showing “We are not afraid”, the #JeSuisCharlie hashtags trending on social media and the outpouring of support from people around the world has shown that the terrorists have already lost. The Charlie Hebdo massacre was a catastrophic violation of free speech and civil liberties. But it is only going to make our voices louder.

Je suis Charlie. Vive la France. Vive la liberté.

If you would like to learn more about Reporters Without Borders or to make a donation please follow this link to their website.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Midweek meals: Soufflé

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Soufflé. The thought of making it is enough to instil fear in some of the bravest of cooks. The soufflé has got a bad rep over the years due to its delicacy. Yes, there are plenty of things that can go wrong: it doesn’t rise, it rises but collapses, it’s over-cooked, the eggs are over-whisked – but with a bit of love a good soufflé really isn’t hard to make. Read on, my friends…  

As mentioned in an earlier post, the word soufflé comes from the verb souffler, meaning to blow. Un bon soufflé should be crispy on top, and light and fluffy in the middle – like a breath of air. 

Mum’s cheese and sweet corn soufflé was my favourite dinner growing up (yes I know, quite the gourmet child), and I’d request it every birthday. I’ve only recently found out that my sister never liked it, so these requests only brought her sadness and misery. Sorry Anna.  

The secret to easily whipping your egg whites is to place the eggs in a bowl of luke-warm water beforehand. Fridge-temperature eggs aren’t going to do you any favours. 

The recipe below is for a cheese and sweet-corn soufflé, but the corn is just an option. You could add capsicum, ham, mushrooms – really whatever you feel like. If you want to achieve a perfect flat-topped soufflé, simply run a knife over the mixture just before putting it in the oven to smooth it out et voila – just like in a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Soufflé au fromage et au maïs:

Serves: 4

Cooking time: Approx. 20 mins prep + 45 mins to cook

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4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

Approx 1 tbsp plain flour

1 cup cheese (tasty or gruyère would work best)

1 can corn kernels, drained (or fresh sweetcorn if you have it)

Salt + pepper, to taste

Method:

Place whole eggs in bowl of luke warm water and set aside. Grease a ramekin or round casserole dish. 

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 Make basic white sauce: melt butter over low heat and stir in flour until thick paste, then very slowly add milk, whisking to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until sauce thickens. Set aside.

Add cheese and corn.

Separate eggs and lightly beat egg yolks in one bowl. Beat egg whites until peaks form, taking care not to over-beat.

This is how you want your whites to look
This is how you want your whites to look

Fold yolks into white sauce mixture, then carefully fold in the whites until just mixed. Over-folding can beat the air out of your perfect eggs.

Don't over-fold your mixture
Don’t over-fold your mixture

Pour mixture into ramekin. If desired, run a knife over the top to achieve the perfect flat-topped look.

Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until golden.

 

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Serve with baked potatoes, or potato gratin. 

 

Bon appétit et bonne chance!

 

Bisous, 

Sophie