La Tête de Veau: A French Delicacy

Vegetarians and PETA supporters should leave now.

I ate a baby calf's head, and it was delicious.

La Tête de Veau
Warm, tender meat surrounded by a gelatinous skin and coated with a flavorful gribiche sauce. Soft to the bite it was easily washed down with a glass of local red wine. Potatoes, carrots and freshly baked baguette slices served as an accompaniment. 

This was all created by a wonderful friend from Besançon, France who invited me to his home for the occasion. He's retired, but he worked as a chef for a living. After spending hours in the kitchen to prepare the feast for fifteen guests the platter of food was finally ready.

My expectations were blown away.

I also had a big helping of calf tongue on my plate, which is the best part. Miam !

But where did this meal come from and why isn't it as well-known abroad compared to escargot and frog legs?

Fluent in French NOW: A Guide to Realistic French Mastery

Exciting news! Fluent in French NOW: A Guide to Realistic French Mastery is now available for pre-order until its worldwide March 1st release date! Whether you're a seasoned veteran, a previous French student, or a first-time learner this eBook will help you find your way towards French fluency.

I'm John Elkhoury, I'm fluent in French and I currently live in France. With over a decade of learning French I know what it takes to get there.

Learning any language (including French) requires time. Fluent in French NOW tries to help you become more efficient with your time by guiding you towards better techniques. Equivalent to the length of 25 articles, this book shares a wealth of knowledge and can help answer your personal questions regarding learning French. This book does not contain long lists of vocabulary or practice exercises, if that's what you seek then there are plenty of other resources out there.

Within the book we'll talk about:
  • The realistic and ideal ways to attain French fluency
  • How to increase your French speaking, reading, and vocabulary capabilities
  • How to make French friends and kept them for the long haul
  • How to up your reading skills
  • Things that need to be tackled as an adult learner
  • Common pitfalls when learning French
  • How to maximize classroom learning
  • Many personal stories and accounts to help illustrate these concepts
  • And much more...
I'm not going to bore you with all the marketing speak, if you like the free content on this blog then you'll enjoy this book – hands down. I've spent the last few months writing it and then I had it professionally edited to make sure that you're delivered a well-polished, extraordinary product.

I'm putting it on the market at just under five bucks.

For a book that could possibly change the way you learn French (or another language) this is small price to pay considering that people will blindly throw hundreds towards language learning software, college courses, and language instruction abroad. Heck, one hour of tutoring costs more than this book, I know, I'm both a French and English tutor. For less than an espresso in my favorite Parisian café you can own Fluent in French NOW and get started working on your language skills immediately.

Consider this book as your manual, let it be a training guide. It shall lead you towards fluency. The principles within the book have helped me perfect the French language and I'm sure they can help you too.

Interested? 

Pre-order your copy today and help show your support for FrenchCrazy.com.

Check out the book's US Amazon page (UK)/(CA)/(AU)/(DE)/(FR)/(ES)/(IT)/(JP)

Je Suis Charlie – How Terrorism in France Strengthened a Nation

Je Suis Charlie
January 7th, 2015, two armed assailants executed a methodical assault in the 11th Arrondissement. Armed to the teeth, their gunshots rang within and around the main office of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. These journalists were targeted due to their edgy depictions of radical Islam and the terrorists aimed to silence them.

The French president and other various people of political importance lashed out against the attacks calling them a form of barbarianism. One video circulating the web shows the murderers in cold blood executing a wounded police officer on the ground. Twelve people in total were killed on January 7th, several being journalists, while others were injured.

The shots were heard across the world and struck a chord with those working as journalists. This attack became a reminder of how harmful words and pictures could be perceived. These gunmen were emotionally hurt and decided armed conflict was the best resolution. I guess the pen really is mightier than the sword.

There was a large reaction, worldwide. In Paris roughly 1.6 million people gathered. The words « Je suis Charlie » or "I am Charlie" spread across the internet and was found on storefronts across France and in the arms of activists everywhere. A grand movement of solidarity could be palpated on the French streets. During the night I managed to participate in a vigil with commonplace citizens simply trying to give a moment of respect to the victims. We weren't the only ones doing so. The Eiffel tower momentarily shut its lights off to pay tribute to the victims just as schools across France held a minute of silence during class the next day.

While the country mourned, thousands of police and military forces were mobilized for the enormous manhunt. The scenes depicting this vast search is reminiscent of finding those responsible for the Boston bombing. Eventually the attackers were subdued after a tense hostage situation.

But why do people feel so strongly about the attacks? These gunmen, the Kouachi brothers, attempted to silence journalists and place fear into the country. Unbeknownst to them, they've only strengthened France and multiplied its national coherence. They've made their victims into martyrs and even gave increased publicity to the magazine. Likewise, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are pillars of democracy – they are fragile unless protected. This heinous attack only solidified France's conviction to protect those rights. France will not falter, that's the message. As these killers momentarily escaped justice the publications continued and they shall continue long after their demise.

We are most certainly experiencing a snippet of history. What happens to France or Europe next is the real question.

Feeding Europe's Islamophobia
There are several layers to the attacks and one underlying problem is that France already has a negative view of the Muslim community. Moments after the attack, several Imams arrived on scene and began denouncing the event in front of TV cameras. The Islamic priests mentioned that the attackers weren't real believers and that Islam does not support such violence. While the words of these priests were sincere, I'm not certain their damage control will manage to quell Europe's anti-islamic sentiments.

Days later, a kebab shop was bombed and several mosques in France were attacked in retaliation. One week later over 50 reports of anti-islamic attacks and threats were reported in France alone. People somehow forget those wise words, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

What a world...
Islamophobia is alive and well in Europe, and it's being fed by political parties such as the Front National. There exists French people who believe their country and its founding Christian values are under attack by Muslim invaders. Some of these people see Arabs inherently as not French (despite some of them being born in France). A small group practically sees them as second class citizens. So even though these two gunmen attempted to "avenge" their prophet, they've only managed to make the lives of fellow Muslims and Arabs more difficult. 

What I find ineffective is how people try to fight hate with hate. Not surprisingly a bunch of oh-so-jolly people rushed towards social media to broadcast hostility. Being a devout Pastafarian, I don't take a side. As a third party it is disgusting to watch how people of one religion can treat those of another. What happened to taking the high ground instead of reverting to in-group out-group psychology?

Only time will tell how much damage has been done to Europe's social dynamics due to these attacks.

« Le Septembre 11 français »
The famous French newspaper, Le Monde, came out with a headline the following day calling the terrorist attack "France's 9/11". Whoa. In one case France is unified in a similar way that the U.S was after that grim September day. Also France and the world over was shocked by the events that occurred. I would argue that the caliber of the Charlie Hebdo attack is not equivalent to the one on U.S soil. Most people who have a problem with the headline point to the fact that there were many more casualties during 9/11. While I believe that the quantity of deaths can be a factor, it's not why I'm in disagreement. The two events are different due to the reasons behind the attacks.


Using Credit Cards in France

Unfortunately this article is mainly for Americans (and Canadians?) – because our credit cards are still stupid. Yes folks, depending on where you are in France then you cannot rely on your outdated credit card technology.

Navigating the Parisian Metro can be a hassle, especially during the holidays. I found myself as usual in the Rue Diderot entrance (Gare de Lyon) ready to take the RER A to visit my uncle. It was Christmas day in the bustling metro system and I was tired from a long TGV ride. Upon walking up to one of the automated ticket vendors it became clear that the group next to me were Americans. The husband tried using his American credit card in the machine and shouted back at his wife with displeasure when he realized the inevitable... his credit card would not work.

I explained to them that the same thing happened to me a while back before having a French bank account. They had no clue what a puce was, so I showed them my French bank card. He would now have to go wait in the 20-minute line for his tickets from a RATP employee unless he had euro coins for the machine. Flustered, he asked me if there were any ATM's around. Instead, I offered to buy the five metro tickets in exchange for U.S Dollars. The entire family happily wished me a "Merry Christmas" once they realized I saved them an inconvenient wait.

What's the Difference?
American credit cards lack a little chip or puce in French. This technological difference runs you the risk of a vendor not accepting your swipe-able card because French cards are simply inserted into the device and pulled out once the payment has been made. This may sound like a minor deal at first, however you'll remember my article when your 120€ dinner goes unpaid for because they don't have the appropriate machinery.

The 1,000,000 Milestone

The Dom Pérignon was flowing yesterday.

FrenchCrazy has reached out across the globe and surpassed the 1,000,000 mark. We've gotten the word through to people in the United States, UK, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, Ukraine, China, and Ireland to the far reaches of Brazil, Malaysia, Lebanon, Russia, and even Madagascar.

Literally, someone from every country in the world has visited the website (according to our statistical software).

But of course, we have to thank you – the readers, for making this possible. Several great articles have been line up as well as a FrenchCrazy book is in the works.

Here's to a million more! Let the celebration continue.

Cheers, from France,

John Elkhoury

La Fête Des Lumières

Every year in Lyon, France an enormous light festival takes places, attracting millions of people worldwide. As I navigated Lyon during that frigid December night I saw the opportunity to warm my soul with vin chaud at 2€ a cup and sugar coated gaufres as a treat. There were colorful lights everywhere, some danced on buildings to the synchronization of music and others lit entire avenues a bright hue. I felt a telling atmosphere of holiday cheer, a vibrant city filled with joy.



What is La Fête Des Lumières about?
The festival takes place every year for three or four days around the 8th of December. In the 17th century Lyon was struck by the plague and the villagers promised that they would pay tribute to the Virgin Mary if spared. They would light candles and give offerings to commemorate this event for years to come.