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Published on Sunday 8th of March 2015 by Valerie

French conversation over a good raclette

Nothing beats a raclette on a cold winter night! Add to it a few bottles of wine and you've got a winning recipe for a good French conversation, regardless of how fluent your French is. This is exactly what happened when the 15 of us headed out to Chalet Beaumartin in the West-End of Glasgow to sample one of their delicious raclette accompanied by unlimited potatoes and pickled gherkins.

Originally, the raclette comes from the French-speaking part of Switzerland and it wasn’t long before it was adopted by the French as a traditional dish. Raclette is the name of the cheese which is melted over potatoes, pickles and sometimes cured meat. It comes from the French ‘racler’ meaning ‘to scrape’ in reference to the melted part of the cheese which is scraped off the unmelted part. Traditionally, the melting of the cheese happened over an open fire. Luckily, Chalet Beaumartin provided us with a more modern raclette set. After a few simple instructions for first-timers, everyone was happily behaving like raclette pros. And if it was the first raclette for some people, they soon vouch that it wouldn’t be their last.

With the help of some wine, it wasn’t long before everyone got chatting in French. And French conversation was made even more meaningful by the fact that we had a few native French speakers in our midst. The atmosphere was buzzing. The wine and the French conversations were flowing. The food kept coming until we could have no more. Then, it was time for a well-earned coffee or tea. Not that we needed any warmth, for the cold had been left outside of Chalet Beaumartin a long time ago. Just like the Swiss, the raclette was enough to make us brave the fiercest, most bitterly cold weather outside. And this was just as well since it was indeed very cold out there. However, it wasn’t quite time to leave yet and everyone was still involved in various French conversations about the most diverse topics: Food, regions of France, the devious nature of the food industry, to name but a few. Isn’t it funny how much more fluent your French becomes under the influence of good food, good wine and good company? Even the beginners in our group surprised themselves at their newly found ability to understand French and take part in a genuine French conversation!

Of course, every good time has to come to an end. After a couple of hours in the surrounding warmth of Chalet Beaumartin, it was time to take our leave. People were reluctantly reaching for their winter coat, bracing themselves for the cold night awaiting outside. But on all accounts, it was a night to remember. And the raclette won the general approval of connoisseurs as well as those who tasted it for the first time. A brilliant night by general consensus!

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