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friday feature:

Laurence Gallarato

of Language & Friendship

Every Friday we are proud to feature a French expat living in the US. Growing up in all different areas of France, they share their insider tips for what to see and do in their hometowns and favorite vacation spots. Find out where they are today and how you can connect with them here!

Today we connect with Laurence Gallarato, who lives and works in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Language & Friendship organizes trips to France, as well as several other countries, for adults and students. They also offer hosting programs for foreign students to stay with families in the US.

Where did you grow up in France?

I grew up in Paris and I lived there until I was 23 year old. I love “my” city. As we have a lot of vacation time in France, every year as I was growing up, my parents would plan a winter skiing vacation, usually in the Alps. Then, in the Spring, we could go to the Normandie area (Houlgate); in the summer we would also got to the French Riviera or the Atlantic cost by Bordeaux or Biarritz. At times, we would go to Italy.

What is there to see and do in your area?

Since I lived in Paris, and it is France capital city, you could spend 3 weeks there and still not see everything. There are of course all the main sites everyone knows. Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Sacré-Coeur, Latin Quarter…etc.

What are the regional specialties in your hometown? What is your area known for?

Great French food eaten at quaint cafés. Being the capital city, you can literally find any kind of good you can hope for or imagine. From traditional boeuf Bourguignon, to fondue and raclettes, to crepes and galettes to escargots, to mussels. And of course we have as many cheese as days of the year - 365 varieties. Try the charcuteries/cheese - fromages trays with French baguette and Voilà !

Do you have favorite restaurants you want to share?

French Paris restaurants tend to be pricey but you can find some lower cost gems all around. You can check what they offer and the price on their “menu du jour” board before being seated. There is usually a good option with 3 courses at a reasonable price (better than a la carte). Do not have really a favorite restaurant. It all depends what food I am in the mood for.

Do you have a favorite family recipe you would like to share? Crepes – they are so easy to make and so delicious

Crepes Suzette

1 cup of flour

1 dash of salt

1 jumbo egg

1+1/4 c of milk

1+1/4 c of water

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

1 tablespoom of sugar

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Flour in a bowl; make a well, break egg inside the well. Slowly stir egg and then add all other ingredients, one by one, always stirring (mixture should not be lumpy - you can use a mixer)

Heat pan with vegetable oil (a damp paper towel)

Pour about 1/4 cup of the mixture in the pan; roll the mixture so that it covers the bottom of the pan.

Cook on one side until golden - flip and cook the other side.

You can add butter, sugar, etc. to top. You can also make delicious ones with cheese/ham/eggs, etc.

Serve and enjoy! It goes great with dry cider.

What brought you to the US and what do you do now?

I had lived with a host family as a nanny when I was 23 year old. The met my husband to be in Phoenix Arizona. He was like a “John Wayne” look alike to me and I fell in love with my American cowboy! Many years and stories later, I came to live in Minnesota and I have been here for the past 35 years. Raised my children and now grandchildren here. I have a custom-fit job for “moi”! I organize cultural and immersion programs to France, Québec and Martinique for high school teachers and their students. Have had the rewarding experience for the past 25 years to help many young lives discover my beautiful country and to practice the language their learn in the classroom.

When you go back to France, what is a “must” for you - see, do or eat!

Well, my “must” is to visit my family. I have 4 siblings and a father who currently is 94 year old. I have many, many cousins and nieces and nephews who are dear to my heart. We love family gathering and celebrating Life by just sitting around and visiting for hours…Long, leisure lunches and dinners. My family now lives in the beautiful area or Bordeaux and Bearn and I love to just spend time with them by the seaside. Going the the ocean is also a must for me. I love the Atlantic beaches. I also have to get my fix and buy/eat some “crêpes and gauffres” from street vendors.

Do you have any other advice or travel tips for Americans going to France?

Leave your “American hat” at home (go with an open mind, open heart); put on your french “beret”!

Learn a few key sentences before you go. French people will appreciate the effort. Be ready to have your senses enthralled by all you see, hear, taste and let its magic work its way into your soul forever

Bon voyage !

Un très grand merci à Laurence pour avoir partagé son histoire avec nous!

A huge thank you to Laurence for sharing her story with us!

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