The Education Abroad Program is great for a number of reasons. All of the classes you take abroad count for units when you get back to your UC, the cost of tuition is about the same, you get to meet other California kids, and (in my case) your program includes a free day in the French countryside for you to drink wine and bake your own bread.
Last weekend, I was bused with fifty other UCers to Beaujolais, a wine-producing region of France. Beaujolais was beautiful with all of its vineyards and hills and non-rainy skies (we escaped a drizzly Lyon that day). After an hour-and-a-half bus rude, we arrived at a small winery owned and operated by a lovely, smiley, brunette French couple. We de-bused and headed straight into an underground cave named after the owner’s grandmother. We all sat in wooden chairs while we were given a lesson in wine tasting. Tasting, we learned, was really only a small part of the experience. First you have to smell the wine about seven different ways, taking short, swift sniffs and twirling your glass to “release the wine’s scent” or really just to look sophisticated. You also have to tilt your glass so you can see the wine’s “true color,” which in our case was ruby – we were tasting a red. Finally we were all able to have sips – very delicious – and munch on some rosemary bread.
After the tasting, we left the grandmother cave and sat in a charming dining room for our lunch, a lunch that lasted two and a half hours and consisted of course upon course of foods grown nearby and wine made in the room next door. We were given cloth napkins, which was kind of a shame because I had to wrap up my leftover cheese in an advertisement flyer I found on the back table instead of a nice paper napkin.
Immediately following lunch we were brought out to the bread-making area where the couple taught us how to properly cut and place bread into a stone oven for baking. We all watched in awe as they worked together to load up the long-handled spatula and thrust the bread deep into the oven. We then were told a little bit about the bread-making and baking process, why it’s good to have a humid oven, why you need to cut slits in the tops of loaves, etc etc. After all of the bread was baked up, each of us got to take home a piping-hot hunk of bread (which many of us burnt our fingers on).
The day finished with a quick tour of the fermentation room and a walk in the vineyards. The day in Beaujolais was absolutely marvelous. I feel very lucky that I’m in a program that gets to do stuff like this. Our next EAP outing is a Frenchified Thanksgiving dinner at the end of November. I can’t wait!