Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Elisabeth Khan

French Food Tasting

French Food

This evening I entered my friend Elisabeth Khan’s house and truly unwound from the family drama that had consumed much of my afternoon. My husband was supposed to join me, but when he saw the absence of other men, he quickly excused himself and said, “I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

I was left in the company of five wonderful women, sitting around a kitchen table filled with French salads, bread, and Paris à Vous food products. Paris à Vous is a new company that wraps up the romance, indulgence and tradition of France, and delivers it to U.S. consumers by way of authentic French packaged goods like cookies, mustards, oils and vinegars, and chocolate.

With French music in the background, we drank natural fruit syrups such as lemonade, mint, and grapefruit. We talked and laughed and tasted French bread with butter spread and cocoa sprinkles. For dessert, we were served a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries with a choice of yogurt or ice cream topping. Then various types of chocolate bars – my favorite being white chocolate with raspberry – were passed around.

In the end, we moved to the cozy living room and were served red wine and coffee, with solid chocolate to dip in the coffee, if one so desired. Given what we ate, I wondered if it is true that French women don’t get fat and hoped that I had somehow adopted those genes if even temporarily while sitting in a French woman’s home.

By the time my husband picked me up, my mind, heart and spirit were rejuvenated. Having been served so well, I was able to come home and serve my own family well.

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Loving India

India

My first spiritual teacher was from India. He was a customer at my place of work, a video store. We talked about God and religion and little by little, I joined his group of pupils who meditated and prayed together. He once recommended I read a book called “Daughter of Fire” about a British woman who goes to India to meet her guru. The book was over 800 pages and I read it twice, hoping to one day find my own guru.

I have since had a strong attraction for India, and although I’ve wanted to visit the country several times, it just never worked out. So I console myself by cooking a lot of Indian food and watching movies my director Mira Nair. My friend Elisabeth has a much stronger connection to that country. Elisabeth is from Belgium. Her mother is French. Her husband is from India. Recently, she built a home in India where she will one day soon move into.

She and her husband came over for dinner this evening. All was wonderful, except for my children who, to my surprise, tried to get the couple’s attention as if they’d never seen people in their lives. My son especially was not okay with his mother giving attention to anyone but himself and so showed off with super-duper shouts as he zoomed into the kitchen on his scooter. Thank God, my friends laughed off the crazy behavior.

I met Elisabeth years ago through the Rochester Writer’s Group. I’ll never forget the beautiful accent as she read a scene from her novel. Her poems are just as mesmerizing, and years ago when our poetry women’s group was active, we would alternate between homes once a month, on a Sunday, to recite poetry. Elisabeth went on to be the editor-in-chief of the Gazette van Detroit, a Belgian newspaper which began in 1914. She is no longer with them, but I remember when she gave me a few assignments and I got to know the community, which mostly lived in East Detroit until the Detroit riots of 1967, a little.

Elisabeth still has that accent, but I haven’t heard her read anything in a while. She said she might hold a poetry meeting at her home one day soon. Yes, before she leaves us to live in her adopted world, where I suspect she will have such an extraordinary experience, she will end up writing a best seller about it.

Well, my son is once again calling for my attention. When I tell him I’m trying to finish up something, he begs that I come beside him. “It’ll just be for an hour, mom,” he says. Now he’s looking for his penguin, named “Huggie.” More on that another day.