It has been a week of French challenges.
First – the funny…
We go to a conversation class every week. The idea is that the French speak English and the English / Americans speak French and the native speakers assist and correct the learners.
The other night one of the students was telling a story about her recent trek in the Himalayas.
Anyone who has ever studied another language knows that one of the hardest things to get right are verb tenses. Coming in a close second would be pronoun placement.
We know that there was a tiger and we know that there were two people and we know that there was eating involved.
What we don't know is if the two people ate the tiger are the tiger ate the two people.
Sadly, we were all laughing so hard at the efforts to get the story straight that class was over before we found out the end….
I should add that, for the most part, the English spoken by the French is much better than the French spoken by me…. Sadly….
Next, the frustrating / bewildering….
Something I struggle with is reading French handwriting, particularly numbers. I can't show you an example, but trust me, it's challenging. A seven can look like a four or a one.
We missed one of mon mari's doc appointments. It was made a year ago and I didn't rewrite the info…. We thought it was the 17th and it was the 11th.
Here's the interesting bit…. He went in to the local GP today, to get his flu shot, and that doc said "I understand you missed your appointment in Bordeaux last week."
Apparently they called him….
Too bad they didn't call us!
Too bad we can't eat this every day…. all the problems would fade to insignificance!
I don't often use crème fraiche…. My healthy side usually grabs the Greek Yogurt.
But sometimes a little decadence is just the thing.
The crème fraiche makes this a very creamy risotto; the saffron (optional) makes it a very pretty risotto.
The secret to easy risotto is not to stir constantly, but to stir a bit vigorously after each addition of liquid. You can use either Bay or Sea scallops.
Scallop and Saffron Risotto
2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto – Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) dry, white wine
2 1/4 cups (18oz, 550ml) fish, seafood or chicken stock
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
Heat stock and keep hot over low heat.
Finely chop shallot. In medium saucepan heat butter over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté until transparent, then add rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes until rice has white center. Add white wine and stir.
When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/3 cup of stock, stir. (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.) When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring. Before the last 1/3 cup taste a few kernels of rice. They should be just 'al dente' – slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked. If more stock is needed add it, a few tbs at a time, and waiting until almost completely absorbed.
At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff – there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold it's shape on a plate.
Add the Parmesan and the condimenti, stir well, pour into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately. It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be quite stiff.
8oz (240gr) scallops
1 medium tomato, peeled
1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) dry, white wine
1/2 tsp saffron, crushed use 1/4 tsp if powdered
1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) crème fraiche
3 tsp olive oil
Peel tomato – blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds; rinse in cold water, peel. Chop shallots and tomato. Crush saffron, lightly, either using mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon on a plate. You just want to break it down a bit.
Heat 2 tsp oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sauté quickly until just cooked through, turning once. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tsp oil and shallots. Sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato, wine, saffron and simmer, reducing slightly.
Select 2 nice scallops for garnish and set aside. If using sea scallops cut the remainder in half or fourths, depending on size. Add crème fraiche and scallops to skillet and heat through. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm until needed for risotto.
To serve: Divide risotto between 2 plates or soup plates, top with reserved scallops and serve.
7 thoughts on “Scallop and Saffron Risotto”
Yes, the sevens and ones in European languages are difficult to read. I had an Austrian pen pal growing up, and it was a miracle how she received my mail. Her slashes in the zip code look like ones. I would beg her to type her letters, but we continued to communicate. We still write to each today. Mostly via snail mail. Amid all the bills, it’s nice to get a personal letter from her.
Rice, seafood and saffron are a few of my favorite ingredients. So, this dish is close to my heart.
Good on ya for learning the language. That effort will go a long way toward acceptance from the French. They like it when we try, even if we don’t do it well.
French can be such a tricky language right?. I totally see myself reflected on your definition on how people get lost with verbs tenses AND pronouns placements. Ce vraiment si difficile, non?.
Here in Macau I attend conversation class @L´Alliance Francaise; classmates are chinese who speak either Mandarin/Cantonese as mother tongue and English as a third language. Teacher is French, me? I´m the only foreigner-foreigner in there. Our sessions are everything but boring!.
btw, the scallop and saffron risotto looks scrumptious. Risotto is delicious by itself but when saffron is added is just magic.
I have kept up with a little bit of French conversation over the years but maybe my greatest challenge was on a driving holiday in France when I had to explain to a mechanic that the brake fluid was boiling – no phrases for that in the tourist brochures !!!!
It’s a humbling experience to try to learn an second or third language. Good for you!
The recipes sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
I studied French prior to our trip to France in 2005 where I got along okay. To be able to sit in a room with French and English speakers and socialize and study the way that you do would be like heaven to me.
Love your risotto and will make it this winter.
Sanura, I hate hand writing addresses. I never know how I should draw the numbers!
Zoomie, I try hard enough that they usually volunteer to speak English LOL
Heidileon, that must be a riot! I think learning a foreign language with other, differnt foreigners can have some advantages – and not….
manningroad, that is the biggest challenge…. Things I am used to saying just aren’t said here so there’s no translation. Did you know there isn’t a French word for ‘rude’?
Liz, sometimes it’s far too humbling LOL…
Christine, it is fun, but I’m always surprised at how tired I am after 90 minutes of it. We’re usually the only English speakers…
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