Baked Mashed Potatoes with Chevre; the phones, oh the phones..

First, is there a short name for the automated answering systems that all businesses use now?

You know the: If you want help press one; If you just like playing on the phone press two….

Since I don’t know the answer I shall refer to such as the AAS for the duration of this post.

In the US when the AAS answers your call the first option often given is:

To hear the options in English press 1.

Para oír las opciones en español presiona 2
. (or something like that)

One has the choice of English or Spanish.

When I make phone calls here in France I don’t expect to be given a choice of French or English.

What I would like to hear is:

If you can understand this rapid-fire French press 1

If you need to slow it done to a crawl because you’re an idiot press 2

I would press 2.

It’s not that I don’t understand some of it…. It’s keeping it all together that’s the problem.

And the French are never brief.  They are excessively polite and flowery.

It’s not: If you need help press 1.

It’s:  If there is something that we can possibly help you with, please press 1.

When I called EDF to get our electrical supply upgraded I had to go through an AAS.


I understood the first directive – to key in my 27 digit account number.

I did that.

But then they started asking questions and telling me that if that was what I wanted to press 2.

Or press 3

Or press 4.

By the time I had sort of processed what my 4th option was I heard them saying ‘press 9’.

Being totally lost by this time, and hopeful that ‘press 9’ would get me to a human, I pressed 9.

It disconnected the call.

I started over.

I decided not to try to understand every option, but to concentrate on listening for the words I wanted to hear.

That didn’t work, but some of it was more clear. 

I figured out that by pressing 0 I could repeat the options.

None of the options sounded like what I wanted so I decided to try the one about ‘problems with my bill’.

I figured it was a start.

And it was.

The wrong start. 

It seems I had been dialing the number for businesses, not home owners.

I started over with a new number.

This AAS didn’t speak any slower than the first one.

The options that I was almost understanding before were now completely different.

I closed my eyes and poked at the keypad….. Any human had to be better than no human.

At least I could ask them to speak slowly.

I prepared my apologies as the phone rang.

As is so often the case here in France, just as my frustration was about to burst forth, consuming everything in it’s path, the nicest person answered the phone, was extremely patient, pleasant and helpful, and…..

As of today I can make coffee and do laundry at the same time.

Ain’t life grand?

And so are these potatoes.

I’ve been kind of bored with winter cooking lately, part and parcel with being bored with winter….

So, I’ve been playing with my food.  

What better food to play with than mashed potatoes?

Although they are sadly un-photogenic…..

Mashed Potatoes Baked with Goat Cheese

Mashed Potatoes Baked with Chevre

4 medium potatoes
2 tbs chives
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
4 tbs Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4oz chevre (goat cheese), sliced
1 tsp paprika

Peel potatoes, cut into chunks and cook in boiling salted water until tender.  Remove from heat and drain well.  Add chives, mustard, yogurt and Parmesan to potatoes and mash well.  Spoon into a shallow baking dish and smooth over.  Lay the chevre on top, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake, 350F (175C) for 15 minutes.

This is perfect for popping in the oven while you have your first course.

12 thoughts on “Baked Mashed Potatoes with Chevre; the phones, oh the phones..”

  1. They look great! I love, love potatoes loaded with cheese. I was laughing out loud at your phone story and I mean that in a nice way!
    I feel your frustration with the phone system; I have it at times myself, it’s just that you have a great sense of humor and a great way with words!
    It’s a wonderful day when you can make coffee and do laundry at the same time. I’m glad all is well! I’m looking forward to more of your writing………

  2. Ooh, I’m totally making this for our meatless meal this week – with some green veggies, it will be heaven and rich enough for My Beloved not to feel deprived w/o meat! Yaay!
    Here, we call AAS a “phone tree.” I can’t _imagine_ doing one in French!

  3. I’m making my first trip to France later this year. Things like this scare me! Hopefully I wont’ be calling for customer service much. Do you ever get the option of pressing 8 to hear a duck quack?
    The potatoes look great. It’s a better photo than you give yourself credit for. This reminds me of a time a year or two ago when I was making mashed potatoes and realized I was out of all manner of dairy products to mash them with- except for goat cheese. They may have been heart-attack inducing, but they were good.

  4. Your potatoes look sinfully edible. And I admire your ability to get so much accomplished in French. Yea to being able to multi-task!

  5. Ciaochowlinda, thanks… you’re so kind ;-))
    Pam, go ahead and laugh…. It’s always funny after it’s over – and we have enough power now….
    Val, there’s something about mashed potatoes that just brings out the child, isn’t there?
    Zoomie, a phone tree? They were just starting to come into play before we left. At the time we just called them irritating….
    Thanks, Lannae
    Rachael, but goat cheese is good for you! I doubt you’ll have to make phone calls here…. If you’re on holiday you’ll likely be surrounded by English-speaking hotel and restaurant people – not to worry…
    Penny, even though I sound like a babbling idiot it’s nice to be able to get something done….
    Thanks, Jann…

  6. Have I told you lately, that I love dropping by your blog for a visit…I always laugh, and leave with a delicious recipe and a smile that lasts the day.
    Thanks for sharing all your “adventures”.

  7. The short name for the hated phone thing is IVR (Interactive Voice Response) … the fruits of my high-tech career. Also, many of those systems are set up so if you just keep yelling “Attendant” or “Operator” (or the French equivalent) you can get to a person. Or when nearly defeated, try pushing “0” — sometimes that works.
    The potatoes look wonderful — my sweetheart’s favorite thing in the world is potatoes, but I’ll have to swap out the cheese … the mere mention of goat cheese causes him to make a face. Luckily, he has many fine qualities to make up for his picky eating …

  8. Thanks, Ruth… glad my days make you smile ;-))
    Charlotte, I think I pushed 0 and was disconnected. I think someone on the other end was laughing. Use Brie or Camembert in place of the chevre.

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