By Anne Hutchinson
Colleen Sollars, chef for the night, prepares the five-course meals served at Thursday night's French Club dinner
Bon Appétit! Baskets of sliced baguettes, bottles of sparkling cider and the chattering of students filled the Rogue River room during “Le Dîner Français” Thursday night. Every year, Le Cercle Francophone, the French club at SOU, provides a six-course French dinner for both students and the community.
"Everyone has really enjoyed the food and had a good time," said Cory Trotter, Le Cercle Francophone President. According to Trotter, the primary purpose of the dinner is to share French culture with the SOU community.
The event cost $6 for students and $8 for community members. Though the dinner only makes a minimal profit, the entirety of the 150 tickets made for the event were sold. All earnings are recycled back into club funds for next year’s dinner. Most of the expenses are covered by the Inner Club Council, fundraising and donations from local grocery stores and farms. Some of the donors this year were Dagoba chocolate, Shop 'n' Kart, La Baguette, Whistling Duck Farms, and the Siskiyou Crest Dairy.
The dinner, or "Les Nourritures Célestes," consisted of soup, palette cleanser, quiche, salad, cheese and dessert. Each course offered vegetarian and meat options. Following the meal, coffee and tea were also available. Unlike the speedy mindset of American dining, the entire dinner lasted about two to three hours.
The food ranged from familiar to more exotic French dishes. "Soupe à l’oignon" (onion soup), "Quiche Lorraine" (an egg dish with bacon and Swiss cheese), "Assiette de fromages" (a variety plate of cheeses and fruit) and "Poires Feuillètes" (a dessert with pears) were a sampling of the many dishes offered Thursday night.
In addition to the meal, Le Cercle Francophone provided live piano performances and a slideshow on French culture.
The tables were formally decorated; each boasted a centerpiece, folded napkins and silverware. Each glass contained a rolled up menu tied off like parchment. Student servers dressed in black and white took orders for each course and provided a steady supply of bread and drinks.
A popular item of the night was the "Mousse au chocolat," a chocolate dessert topped with whipped cream and served in tall glass. Joanna Asia, a graduate student of management, said her favorite part was "The dessert, for sure. It was worth the wait."
Ashland resident and Quebec native John Taylor commented on the quality of the food. "It was very tasty, a nice treat."
Ronald Oliver, a junior Psychology student agreed. "The food was amazing. I feel refreshed and satisfied."
The event attracted students and community members of all ages from small children to French professors. Franglais, a slang-type mixture of French and English, which is popular among students studying French, was spoken throughout the night.
Commenting on the student volunteers, Trotter said, "The group has been both easy-going and energetic. They've been great." For the entire event, about 40 SOU students volunteered their time. Most students involved in the dinner were international students or those studying French. In preparation for the event, Le Cercle Francophone held crêpe sales a few weeks prior as a fundraiser for the event.
Additionally, the meal itself took several hours of preparation. The chef for the event was Colleen Sollars, a senior international studies major and French student, who delegated many of the jobs for students in the kitchen. Food purchasing, preparation, cooking and serving were a few of the tasks for students to perform. Le Cercle Francophone worked in close collaboration with SOU catering, which allowed students to use the kitchen and its supplies. Marianne Golding, an SOU French professor, announced that the night would not have been possible without all the time and energy the students had dedicated.
Anthropology senior and French student Lindi Hobongwana commented on her volunteer experience as a server for the dinner. "It was a blast. The whole event had a good atmosphere."
The dinner is the largest event Le Cercle Francophone puts on for the year. When asked about how the night went, Trotter was positive and enthusiastic. "Everyone was really happy. It has definitely been a success."