Bûche de Noël : Yule Log

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Written by Vanya Truong, Staff Writer

Many years ago in France, each village had a special wintertime celebration. In celebration of a loving community and new year, there would be a gathering held during the early weeks of December up until January. Neighbors would bring a log to the host’s house, to burn for warmth during the gathering. One year, a baker in a particular village realized that he did not have a log. The year had been tough for the baker, and he could only find small twigs outside. However, he did have plenty of milk, butter, sugar, and other cooking ingredients. With the best ingredients, the baker decided to make a cake shaped like a log as a substitution. When the baker arrived at the host’s house, everyone took an immediate liking to his log cake. In fact, the log cake was such a hit that it became a French tradition. Today, the French call this cake “buche de noel”, or “yule log”, and still make it every winter.

That story is just one of many versions for the explanation of buche de noel. However, it was the one Chef Janet Melac chose during her cooking demonstration last Friday. The audience was comprised of a handful of students, Ms. Erickson (culinary arts teacher), and Madame Olin (French teacher). While most were seasoned French students, there were a scant few Spanish students who came, enticed by the words “cooking demonstration” and “cake”. “A friend in the French Club invited me to come,” said junior Paula Rueda. The cooking demonstration was set up by the French Club. Despite being a. In the first hour, Chef Melac gave her demonstration in French. She had attended the Cordon Bleu in Paris for ten months, and lived there for two years. Non-French speakers were not left totally in the dark, as French students threw in a few translations time to time. The overall environment was easygoing, with lighthearted laughs, the whirring of blenders, a mingling of English and French, and faint Christmas music in the background.

In the second hour, students formed teams of four or five and were able to apply their newfound knowledge. There was much finger licking, as the excess chocolate mousse was quite irresistible. By the end of the day, everyone was in a sublime mood. Chef Melac admitted that she loved her first experience teaching PG High students, and was “impressed with the level of French [evident amongst the students].” On the dish itself, the chef talked about how she made the cake annually, and that it was a “classic part of my repertoire”.  Madame Olin was pleased that the first-time joint activity (with the French and culinary teachers) went remarkably smooth. Every year, the French class has a Buche de Noel day, similar to their acclaimed crepe days. “French culture is based around food,” Madame Olin explained, and it the demonstration portrayed both that and the importance of family and tradition surrounding buche de noel. Ms. Erickson, whose classroom was used for the event, was thrilled at Chef Melac “sharing expertise”, and her enjoyment of the demonstration was concordant.

In my opinion, the buche de noel cooking demonstration was surreally relaxing and entertaining. And if anyone was wondering, the three bowls of extra meringue mushrooms did indeed disappear into thin air quite rapidly. Meringe Mushrooms