As a long-time French language student of the Alliance Française in Dominica, I enjoy participating in the various cultural activities that are offered to the public by this active institution.
During March, much of the world observes International Francophonie Month and Dominica is no exception. Apart from special French performances in dance, theatre, poetry and a Mademoiselle Francophonie pageant, one of the highlights for me was the opportunity to taste foods from several countries who are members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Of course, Canada as a nation and the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick form part of this group of 75 states and governments comprising 56 members and 19 observers.
I happily prepared some
desserts for the occasion, as a proud Canadian who is Québécoise by birth. Although I was the only table out of seven that offered sweets, they seemed to go down well after about 100 customers had consumed delectable main courses from six other countries: Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Dominica; Haiti; France; and Lebanon. I can assure you that all the dishes were definitely more than delicious! And the prices for the exquisite offerings were very reasonable too.
Proceeds from this event helped to off-set the costs of hosting performers Catherine Denecy, a contemporary dancer from Guadeloupe and French actor Jacques Martial, who appeared in a theatrical piece called “Notebook of a Return to my Native Land” (Cahier d`un retour au pays natal). It was created by the late Martiniquais playwright Aimé Césaire. I immensely enjoyed both shows and appreciated the opportunities to experience the high-calibre productions of these renowned foreign artistes.
As for the culinary arts (and sciences), I already knew what one of my main courses would be before I entered the Food Fair. The instructor of my French conversation course, Gildas Lefèvre, had told the class a few days earlier about his chosen recipes for the event: Boeuf Bourguignon and Chicken Colombo. I sampled the exotic chicken dish. It was divine. The French people seem to have a flair for creating and cooking flavourful foods (la gastronomie). I guess it was my lucky day!
The delegation representing Lebanon offered numerous dishes to many interested people. Mr. Raffoul, a superb chef, has a reputation around Roseau for the delectable dishes that he serves up at special
events and private parties. It had been a several years since I savoured such mouth-watering hummus and tasty taboulleh, which perfectly satisfied my vegetarian side.
I was curious to try the chicken in a flavourful peanut sauce from a Côte d’Ivoire, French West Africa recipe, but unfortunately my pre-existing nut allergy prevented that.
However, from all accounts, it was definitely delicious! Fortunately, I was able to indulge in another French-African dish from the Congo, called Sakasaka. It was made from finely chopped manioc (cassava) leaves and a delicately seasoned fish (tuna, I think). I really liked it!
I was busy at my Canadian table until almost the end of the event. Finally, I had a
chance to go to the Haitian table, where I was acquainted with some of the servers, but not their foods. There, the lovely and friendly ladies ladled out complimentary samples of all their vegetarian dishes for me. My recyclable containers were filled to the top!
At 3 p.m., the Food Fair was ready to close down. I had a few pieces of Carrot-Banana Bread left-over, but I wished to share them before I departed. With the permission of Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of the Alliance Française, her husband Gildas Lefèvre took the plate of sweet-bread around the room. It came back empty within minutes.
Both consumers and servers were satisfied with the results of this culinary international francophone event. The Alliance Française was delighted to have had the opportunity to present various Francophone cultures that exist in Dominica.
And I was also happy to have a few delicious ready-to-serve exotic meals in my fridge for the next couple of days!
*With special thanks to Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of Alliance Française de la Dominique for reviewing this draft. Her tremendous efforts to promote the French language and culture in Dominica are very much appreciated. I am also grateful as a student to benefit from her dedicated and patient instruction in the classroom!