31 January 2010

J'ai Mangé du Cheval . . . And It Was GOOD!

The French have quite a few delicacies that we étrangers are not always familiar with.  For example, I tried escargot at my fist meal when I arrived (pretty sure that little snail wasn't too fond of me . . . but quite frankly, the feeling was mutual).  I've eaten foie gras (duck liver paté), lots of moldy cheese, and andouille deGuéméné (pictured to the right, "sausage" specific to the northwest region of Bretagne . . . sausage is putting it gently . . . it's simply rolled up pork intestines).   The andouille is by far the WORST thing I've eaten since arriving.  It was so elastic-y cutting it with anything short of a table saw was insufficient, so each slice had to be eaten whole . . . it was just too much . . . the taste . . . there's really no describing the taste . . . c'était dégueulasse!!  NEVER, NEVER again!   But I actually really enjoy the foie gras and most of the cheeses (the rule for cheese seems to be "the worse it smells, the better it tastes!")

27 January 2010

Lip Reading En Français

So last night, while we were listening to blue grass there was a large group sitting a few tables away deeply engaged in what appeared to be speed-dating (as they all wore name tags and would shift seats each time the buzzer would sound . . . although I never did make out what the dice were for).  But that's not the point of this post (I just found the concept of French speed-dating to be comical . . . we had a whole chapter in our grammar book that used the context of speed-dating to teach us how to ask and answer questions, comme "Where are you from?" "What do you like to do?" "Do you have any siblings?" "Are you single, employed, and rich?" Oh, wait, sorry . . . we're digressing).

The purpose of this post is to rejoicingly state that I was able to read someone's lips last night!  Our table was adjacent to a window, and so it was a nice opportunity to safely people-watch the passers-by.  At one point a small group of friends arrived . . . half from the left, half from the right.  As they were exchanging their bises and ça va's and bon soir's one guy said "Il fait froid!" ("It's cold!)  It didn't phase me right away that there was a pane of thick glass between us and I shouldn't have understood what he was saying.

Vous Êtes Parisienne?

My friend and I went to hear a French Blue Grass Band play tonight in Paris.  I've never really been into blue grass, but she didn't want to go alone, and any opportunity to get out an practice French is a good one.

Nashville Airplane is made up of Jack, Christophe, Remi, François, and Hervé.  It was FANTASTIC!  My friend is from the heart of Tennessee and absolutely loves blue grass.  I was unsure what to expect, but had a surprisingly great time.  To quote E, "It's hard not to be happy listening to blue grass."

25 January 2010

Point d'Interrogation

In phonetiques class today, my prof made us do a dictation.  I hate dictations.  Especially when the prof speaks quickly and uses random sentences instead of a flowing story.

Today, she had one student write the sentences on the board while the rest of us wrote on our papers.

22 January 2010

Captain Crochet and Other Well Know Fairy Tale Characters

In class today, my prof mentioned Captain Crochet as if we should all know who that is.  Took me a second, but when the light bulb illuminated, it all made sense.  The French word for a hook is un crochet . . . guess that's  why crocheting is called crocheting.  So I thought I'd do a little research and find some more French characters for you.  (I'll start with an easy one for those of you who have been following this blog)

20 January 2010


So I thought I was typing in my correct blog address: dberruti.blogSPot.com . . . but I switched the s and the p and what came up was this site instead:

Hmmmm . . . that's annoying!!  I love the "Make Us Your Home Page" button . . . is this for real??

J'ai Fait le Spätzle

My German friend, E, made lunch for a few of us today . . . but she let me help.

Spätzle is a noodle-like dish that is a speciality of the southern regions in Germany.  The dough is made up of flour, water, milk, eggs, and salt (smells much like waffle mix before cooking).  E let me use the Spätzlepress to drop the noodles into rapidly boiling water.  Once the batch of buoyant ribbons were cooked through, they were removed from the water and rinsed.

Topped with a beef gulasch (with a hint of red wine and shallots), it was FANTASTIC!

Being a quarter of a descendant of the south west region of Germany, I consider Spätzlepressing to be a long lost art that should have been passed down, but was lost somewhere in the branches of the family tree (much like meringue).  Thankfully, I am living with Europeans who are making up for lost time and teaching me what I should have learned in my great-grandmother's kitchen . . . so hopefully the Italian students will be coming in February . . . I need to learn how to make a proper cannoli!

Thoughts on Haiti

I was just reading this article from the BBC News  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8469206.stm about the significant amount of amputations (both upper and lower extremity) that have needed to be performed in order to save countless lives of those injured during the earthquake in Haiti last week.

Many around the world are feeling helpless and desiring to help . . . but an immediate influx of well meaning foreigners might just overwhelm this devastated country. Yes they need help, but that's what organized government and NGO disaster relief programs are for. But many pack up and leave once the "situation is under control."

19 January 2010

Conflict in Jos

This was just on the BBC News homepage.  Jos is the city in Nigeria where SIM has another hospital (the one I'm supposed to go train in to learn prosthetics sometime next year).  Please be praying for the workers there as well as for those involved in this conflict.

17 January 2010

Voyages de Vives Voix

Travels of the Strong Voices

Last night I attened a concert put on by a choir of adolescents and young adults who have autism along with their speech and music therapists and educators.  So far, it is the best event I've attend since arriving in Paris five months ago. 

My job as an Occupational Therapist is to facilitate participation in purposeful and meaningful activities.  And the beauty on that stage last night was beyond purposeful and meaningful.  It was value and pride and radiating happiness.

16 January 2010


After lunch today, I was sitting having coffee with my friends from Germany, Colombia, and Tennessee, along with one of the prof's from the school.  At the table, I had the lowest language level by far (the next highest was B2/C1 . . . I'm just starting A2), so the conversation was très vite (very fast) and the vocab was far beyond what I can use, but I was following about 85-90% of what was said. 

They began talking about the film Avatar.  Suddenly I heard words I didn't know: toit dé . . . or perhaps it was tois dée . . . our toi dai . . . je ne sais pas.   The more they used the words the more confused I was . . . what in the world is toit dé???

The Swimming Head

We've had seven days of class since returning from break.  My class has finished two chapters in that time.  We learned three new tenses: l'imparfait, le futur simple, and le subjunctif.  Okay, so I use the word "learned" very loosely . . . we've been introduced to these tenses, have been tested on the first, and will take the test for the other two on Tuesday . . . so I'm spending the rest of today and tomorrow trying to absorb these concepts into my brain. 

I feel like my brain is back to that state of overload that I experienced in September . . . okay, not as bad as September, maybe October.  Yeah, like October.  I met with my language helper, C-L on Wednesday night.  As she came in we had a little dialogue comme ça:

C-L:  Bon soir, Déborah, ça va? (Good evening Deborah, how's it going?)
Deb.: Bon soir, oui, ça va . . . mais, ma tête nage! (Yeah, it's going . . . but my head is swimming!)
C-L:  Désolée??  (I'm sorry????)
Deb.: Ma tête, elle nage! (My head, it's swimming!!)
C-L:  Quoi? (What??)
Deb.: Ma tête nage . . . j'ai beaucoup de nouvelles choses là et je ne peux pas penser maintenant!  (My head is swimming . . . I have so many new things in there I can't think right now!)
C-L:  OH!  OUI!  Je comprends . . . mais, en français, la tête ne nage pas.  C'est bizarre!  Comment la tête nage sans tout le corps?  Non.  Tu ne dit pas ça.  Non. C'est tort.  (Oh, okay.  Yeah, I get it . . . but in French the head doesn't swim.  That's bizare!  How can the head swim without the rest of the body?  No, you don't say that.  It's wrong.)

She has a daughter who studies in the UK and said she'd ask her if there is a reciprocal phrase in French.  Haven't heard anything back yet, but I asked one of my prof's.  When I explained the phrase he said the French say J'ai la tête qui tourne (I have the head that turns). 

I've learned a few other French expressions this week too:
Quand les poules auront les dents.
Translation: When the chickens have teeth.  Utilization: similar to When pigs fly in English.  Never going to happen.

À la Saint-Glinglin. 
Translation: On Saint Glinglin.  Utilization: In France, every day of the calendar year is named after a Saint (for example, today, 16 Janvier, is the day of Saint Marceau and Saint Priscilia).  Some of the more famous fêtes du jour are really well known and observed.  But there's no such person as Saint Glinglin.  So when someone says "Yeah, we'll do that à la saint-glinglin" it means "Yeah, that'll never happen!"

Tout les trente-six du mois.
Translation: All the 36's of the month. Utilization: There is no 36th day of any month.  So basically saying there's a very slim chance of something happening.

Je connais la musique.
Translation: I know the music.  Utilization: When someone gives excuses for the same thing over and over again the response is Je connais la musique.  Kind of like "Yeah, yeah, I've heard it before."

13 January 2010

Because Jesus is Worth It

This was posted by one of the doc's I'll be working with at Galmi.  He puts into words the reasons why I am studying French.  His wife simply, but spot-on, spells out the motivation for our obedience: Because Jesus is worth ithttp://africateam2010.blogspot.com/2009/12/guest-blogger-kendrick-lau-my-africa.html

12 January 2010

The Belle Fort

Today is your lucky day!  Your patience is being rewarded . . . I have a funny story for you.  Yes, another chapter in the Stupid Things Deb. Did In Class tome.

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon our classes focus on Oral and Written Expression and Comprehension (that's our ability to read, write, speak and listen).  Today, mon professeur started things off with a dictation exercize.  I typically don't start off too well when we take dictations, but once my ears have a chance to warm up and they get in synch with my right hand, I do pas mal (not bad).

11 January 2010

L'Imparfait and Le Futur Simple and Le Subjunctif . . . OH MY!

Last week we learned a new tense, l'imparfait.  It is a past-tense, we already know la passé composé, another past-tense that uses the verb avoir (to have).  There are rules for the implication of both.  I can tell you what they are . . . but applying those rules and getting the proper result has yet to be accomplished.  A professor just explained the difference to me comme ça: En Anglais (I love when they say "En Anglais" because I know the likelihood of confusion will be limited) avec la passé composé you say "it has happened." Avec l'imparfait  you say "it was happening."  (I love when the lightbulb turns on!  Now, hopefully it will stay on!)

This morning we had a test, and then began to explore a new future tense, le futur simple.  We know le futur proche already.  It uses the verb aller (to go).  And by the end of the week we will learn le subjunctif a tense that expresses what one hopes or wishes will happen.  Since I'm still wrestling with l'imparfait and we are moving at a much quicker pace (with increased intensity) than last semester, I forsee this week to be little more than locking myself in my room with my books.  Stay tuned for much anticipated mental-health-blogging!

07 January 2010

Putting It All In Perspective: A Story From Galmi

A future collegue shared this with me.  Thought I would pass it on for those of you interested in the work that is going on in Galmi while I am here learning French.  The account was a good reminder of why I am here and how anxious I really am to arrive in Niger.  Please take a few minutes and read this article . . . she even writes better than I do.


Two Top Ten's

This entry was inspired by a friend's facebook status about getting up extra early to take a spinning class.  I used to go with C three or four times a week . . . it was hard, but FANTASTIC!  But the French don't spin.  At least not in Massy.  So when I read her comment, I thought, wow, I really miss spinning.  So I commented on her status and realized that I missed some other things from home too . . . and have decided to try to find 10 things I miss most.  But I don't want to imply that I'm not enjoying what is here either, so to offset what I miss, I'm going to also list the 10 things I like most about being in France.  I think I'll start with that one.

1. Paris.  The center of Paris is about a 45 minute ride on the RER from where I live in Massy (only 12km by car . . . that's not quite 6mi).   Paris is BEAUTIFUL!  Le Tour Eiffel, La Louvre, Le Sacre Coeur . . . Paris is FULL of history and culture, with lots of exhibits to visit and festivals to enjoy.  J'adore Paris!

2. Easy (enough) Access to Europe.  I have now been here just over four months, and I've already had the opportunity make quick visits to Italy, Germany, Belgium, and the UK.  Between the European rail system and cheap airlines, Europe is at my fingertips.

3. Learning New Things.  Not only am I learning a new language, I am learning lots of new things . . . like the sounds animals make in different countries (cows don't say "moo" everywhere you know) . . . and how to recharge a cell phone once the minutes I've paid for are used up . . . and how to read many different types of public transportation schedules . . . and how to host a real Swiss Fondue . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . and hopefully soon how to make real French macaroons!

4. La Cuisine Française.  Okay, so I don't like everything the French eat . . . comme Escargot, and I confess I won't even try the raw oysters!  But for the most part, I haven't had much I haven't liked.  And there's no touching the bread and cheese!  Mmmmmm.

5. My Schoolmates.  I am really enjoying the people I go to classes with and live with.  We come from all over the world (Colombia, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Serbia, Korea, Australia, New Zealand . . . and those from the US come from all over too: Alaska, Texas, California, Boston, Philly, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, etc).  And when we're done here, we're all spreading around the world too (most are either staying in Europe or heading to North and West Africa).  I've come to know some really great people, and have made some life-long friends too.

6. Scarves.  France is often associated with a few things: Le Tour Eiffel, les baggettes, and a man in a blue and white striped shirt with a mustache, cigarette, beret, and a red cravate.  But scarves are right up there with the very Frenchness of wine and cheese!  Walking down the street sans a scarf is like walking down the street without shoes . . . you just don't do that here!

7. Culture.  L'opera,  le cinéma, les arts, le ballet, la cuisine, la musique . . . France is full of culture!  The French people enjoy going to public lectures and concerts and exhibits.  The city of Paris is full of art and music!  The architecture found throughout the cities and towns is exquisite.  Bravo!

8.  My Schedule.  Before I moved to France my life was in a constant state of "go." Even my days "off" were tightly scheduled.  I would catch up on phone correspondence when sitting in traffic on my commute home from work.  Every night was full with meetings, Bible study, Community Group, etc.  My life was packed full to the seams.  But here . . . here I live two steps away from where my classroom is . . . and two blocks from the closest store . . . and a 10 minute walk to the train station (and 5 minutes to the really good boulangerie).  Everyday I go to class, have a break for lunch, go back to class, and then go for a walk in the park, and walk to the store, and do some homework and have dinner with friends.  One day a week I meet with my language helper for an hour.  We have Wednesdays off . . . and the weekends too.  While we work hard in school, I am LOVING this pace of life! 

9.  Social Awareness is a Cultural Value.  While I am not a Socialist politically, I do think that personally it is right to be socially active.  Helping the poor, standing up against human trafficing and the sex trade, supporting projects that provide food, clean water, and health care for those with limited access to the things we in the West take for granted.  In general, this mindset is a cultural value here in France.  And I appreciate that.

10.  Skype.  Okay, so it's not a "French" thing . . . but my time here would be leaps and bounds more difficult if I had to rely on letters or email solely.  And with the webcam I can see the people I'm speaking with.  Skype is a BEAUTIFUL thing!

(Are you there??  Is anyone still reading???  I've got 10 more to go!!!!!!)

1. My People.  This is not only inclusive of my family and friends . . . but my collegues at work, and the folks at church, and even the guy with the long hair (I think his name is Mike . . . or Tom . . . or something like that) who works at the register in Wawa at the corner of Greetree and Church Rd in Mt. Laurel.  I think often we take for granted having people around us who know our back-stories and understand where we are coming from.  Even just someone to share all those culture-specific things . . . like lines from Napoleon Dynamite or "You know that Seinfeld episode . . . ." or even knowing what Wawa is!!  It's the little things sometimes . . . and really, I'm getting to know some people here on a deeper level, and so I've got a new circle forming (but none of them have even heard of Wawa).

2. My Car.  I couldn't wait to be rid of my car when I left in August.  I was so happy to be done with car insurrance and repairs.  Public transportation was a dream come true . . . until I had one too many misadventures . . . they may be funny stories for you now!!  Public transport here really is easy, but sometimes it's nice to just hop in your own car and get away . . . but on the days I miss my car, I try to remember how much I HATE traffic (and usually I'm cured!)  woah . . . I was just typing number 10 and I realized that I haven't driven a car in over 4 months!!  CRAZY!

3. Sunday Coffee.  The year or so before I left the States, nearly every Sunday afternoon or evening, I would have a cup of coffee with my dear friend B.R.  We would spend hours sipping and chatting . . . and on nice days we'd get the cup to-go and head to a nearby park.  But B. recently came to visit and we actually to got to sit and catch up with a cup of coffee in a (very) busy shop in the basement of Le Louvre.  And at least once a week, on a Wednesday or Saturday mid-morning, I sit with my partner-in-crime, S-P, or my multi-lingo-cultural S.G. and reflect on life and drink coffee.  Different isn't always Wrong.

4. Burts Bees Wax.  You can't get it here.  And while zam-buk is almost as good, you can't get any of that either!  (Thanks again, PC for bringing some with you . . . ma bouche thanks you too!)

5. Peanut Butter M&M's.  (and Reese's too)  Okay, so I've actually been able to ration the packets I've received in the mail this year . . . but it was always nice to know that if I ever wanted some the orange bag was easy to come across.  (But you can find the Peanut ones here . . . infact, they seem to be more popular than the Regular ones.)

6.  Craft Stores.  I love craft stores.  I walk in and feel inspired to let the creative juices flow.  But here, there are no craft stores.  There's a place, Zôdio, that is a cross between the Container Store and Kitchen Kapers and Bed Bath and Beyond and three aisles at Michael's.  But no craft stores.  Sad.

7.  My Own Kitchen. I love to entertain.  I love having dinner parties.  While we still do lots of soirées and dinners together, it's just not the same.  There's no KitchenAid and other people are always coming and going.  We do have a BEAUTIFUL new salle à manger for the single students to use as a dining room . . . so for now, it works.

8.  Payless.  Shoes here are EXPENSIVE!  Often beyond my buget.  The right sole of my black flats that I wear nearly every day has started to rip off . . . but for now, ça marche, because I'm not ready to give in to French shoe prices.

9. Homemade Used Car Lot Commercials.  Just kidding!

10. Cinnamon Flavored Toothpaste.  Over Christmas I finally ran out of the stash I brought with me.  I've always preferred cinnamon flavored things to mint.  But that's my only choice now.  At least I have toothpaste . . . and it tastes like something other than paste.

06 January 2010

The Words That I Think In

One night, over the Christmas break, I was talking to my niece on Skype.  She asked me to speak to her "in the language you speak over there."  It's a bit tricky coming up with things to say in French without being in a conversation (at least at this point) so I asked if she'd like me to read her a story (figuring I could find a French children's story pretty easily via google).  "Little Red Riding Hood" she said.  So I googled "Little Read Riding Hood in French": Le Petit Chaperon Rouge.

I began to read: Il était une fois une petite fille de village, la plus jolie qu'on eût su voir ; sa mère en était folle, et sa mère-grand plus folle encore. Cette bonne femme lui fit faire un petit chaperon rouge, qui lui seyait si bien que partout on l'appelait le petit Chaperon rouge. Un jour sa mère, ayant cuit et fait des galettes---

Au Revoir, Téléphonéphobia!

While I get intimidated quite often, there are very few things in life that terrify me.  Heights would be one . . . being stuck in an elevator is another.  And since being in France, I have a third: talking on the phone

For the past four months I have been dreading the day that I receive a phone call that requires me to speak in French.  It's not that I didn't think I could respond . . . it's that I can't see the other person.  There is such a physical element to communication: facial expressions, body language, lip reading (maybe that last one should have been bolded, italicized, and in all caps, comme ça: LIP READING).  I have really come rely on these elements to understand not only the words being said, but the context of that which is being discussed.  This is impossible on the phone. 

Just before New Year's I had my first Skype "chat" in French . . . we started off in English but once my friend gave me time to warm up, it was all in French.  C'est très difficile!!!  It took so long for me to read and understand, especially with the pace at which things were being typed and vocabulary and tenses being used that I didn't know yet.  It made for a very tricky conversation that required a few stops for clarification.  It was hard enough trying to converse over instant-messanger when I could see all the words in front of me . . . but the thought of actually SPEAKING . . . TERRIFYING!

So anyway, back to the purpose of this post (Short-Story-Long Girl strikes again!).  I just got off the phone with my language helper, C-L.  She phoned to see if I would be free tonight to meet, but I already have dinner plans for the time she is free.  Tomorrow is no good for her, and Friday we're having a pot-luck dinner for all the students (and families) at the school (to give people a chance to get to know one another . . . ah, community building!).  But we're going to meet on Friday anyway, before the dinner. 

I know you don't care what I'm actually doing with C-L, the point was that whole conversation above (ON THE PHONE) plus greetings/etc (ON THE PHONE) was en français!!  (ON THE PHONE!!)   That means, I held an ENTIRE conversation IN FRENCH, ON THE PHONE.  WOOO HOOO!!!  VICTOIRE!!!!    I still can't believe it.  I haven't gone to the trouble of memorizing my number yet because, in all honesty, it's nice to be able to appologize and tell people that I don't know it and offer my email address instead (which gives me the opportunity to look up words I don't know and think about my response . . . little room for miscommunication).  But, first time was a success.  That wasn't so bad . . . maybe I will go to the top of the Tour Eiffel . . . woah, Deb. let's not get ahead of ourselves!!

04 January 2010

This Just In . . .

From SIMSudan: http://ow.ly/SESJ

The SIMSudan compound was burned on New Years Day.  The six adults and five children were safely evacuated . . . one of the couples was burned . . . the report is that her burns are minor, but his are partial-thickness (second degree).  These families have lost everything.  Please be praying for their physical and emotional and spiritual health.  Pray also that Our Father receives glory despite this situation.

Thank you for your interest.

[This was posted today, 5 January 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8441179.stm . . . situation's not just affecting religious organizations]

01 January 2010

Ending the Decade with a Mistaken Success

Bonne Année!  Happy 2010.  (That feels wierd to write.)

Well, the new students have been arriving over the past few days.  The foyée is filled with kids (all three new couples brought some with them) so there are lots of little people struggling to adjust to the time change and new surroundings.  Since last night was New Years and with so many new folks coming in not knowing which end was up, let alone how to celebrate, I organized a petite soirée at the school for those of us living here as well as those living off campus that felt like swinging by.  (Here's to community building!)

I decided to make another (secret recipe, so don't ask) cheese cake since I had to buy more Kiri squares than I needed.  After unwrapping the 50 squares, I proceeded to make my cheese cake.  The school staff was back at work, so there were many people in and out of the kitchen all morning.  Que-ce que c'est? (What's that?) Un gâteau du fromage (A cake of cheese.)  Un gâteau du fromage?? (A cake of cheese??)  Oui.  C'est une specialité de New York.  (Yup, it's an NYC speciality.)  They were intrigued . . . how bizaire!

I finished the batter and put the cake in the oven.  45 minutes (and three burned fingers) later the cake was done.  I turned off the oven, left the door ajar, and went on my way to FranPrix to pick up a few things for the soirée.  While I was wondering down the aisle, I saw creme fraiche (the closest thing here to sour cream) on the refrigerated shelf.  Oh, I have a tub of creme fraiche in my friggo at home . . . I HAVE A TUB OF CREME FRAISE IN MY FRIGGO AT HOME . . . but why was it still in the friggo??  It's supposed to be IN THE CAKE! 

Oh no.  OH NO.  OH NO. OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

My heart sunk.  My perfect-cheese-cake-running-streak was over before it even began!!  I started to laugh.  C'est ma vie! (This is my life!)  I couldn't believe it.  I texted a friend because I had to tell somebody and I didn't think I could explain the story in French to the strangers in the aisle who were already wondering if the laughing-at-seemingly-nothing chick needed to be committed (and besides, I'm Short-Story-Long-Girl, it's my superhero power, and since I can't do that in French, why try!). 

I walked home, trying to maintain a good attitude: Well, maybe it will be fine . . . I mean it's not the most important ingredient . . . after all, the cream cheese is in there . . . and the . . . and the . . . (and you thought I'd give away the secret . . . NOT A CHANCE!) . . . and the lemon juice . . . and--the lemon juice . . . THE LEMON JUICE . . . THE LEMON JUICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Double whammy.

I walked home, hanging my head in defeat.  It was ruined50 Kiri squares paid for and unwrapped in vain. How could this happen??  I began retracing the morning . . . all the distractions of explaining the greatness of the gâteau du fromage must have deviated my mind from the flow.  All those people tonight, and now what??  (This is a big deal for a card-carrying member of The People Pleaser's Club . . . what if no one likes it!!!)  I couldn't handle the pressure.  Surely there is a way to fix this!

Google is my new best friend.  My quick search for "lemon cheesecake topping" yielded an easy lemon-curd-like recipe (Delicious Lemon Topping Sauce . . . there, I've shared something with you, so give it up, I'm not handing over the secret cheese cake recipe!!).  I went back to the kitchen and whipped up a batch, let it cool, and dumped it on top.

I am happy to say, that while I knew how absolutely amazing the cheese cake is supposed to be, tout le monde was none the wiser and it was almost all gone by the end of the evening.  I heard quite a bit of "That was amazing, and I'm not a cheese cake person."  I'll take that as a victoire . . . but technically since it wasn't yet midnight, it'll still make last years taxes.