Helen Lipsky ’20 describes an afternoon of cheese making at a local fromagerie.
Adjusting to life in Tours, France, is at times difficult, but primarily fun and engaging when given the opportunity to explore in more ways than one. The adjustment process has been greatly expedited with various afternoon excursions that allow us, the students, to understand the Tours lifestyle from varying perspectives.
On June 14th, all of us had our regular three-hour morning classes. In my class, we went through the activities our teacher, Emilie, had planned for us, and she asked us what we wanted to do. All of us expressed an interest in learning a bit more about contemporary French music, so we watched the music videos and discussed the meaning of around three or four classic French pop hits by the Belgian singer, Stromae. After these three-hour sessions, thirteen Deerfield students travelled to a nearby town in order to get a focused-look into a practice born primarily from the French culture, cheese-making. Well-fed after ample time to get food in the local Tours area with our friends, we hopped into various cars with Madame Nichols, Mr. Taft, and Odile, and headed out to a goat cheese fromagerie.
Greeting us with many exciting surprises, the fromagerie had prepared for our arrival two bottles of homemade apple juice, made from apples grown on the farm, as well as two baby goats to hold. The baby goats were surprisingly calm and unsurprisingly adorable. They were very young and just born the previous Sunday. Next, one of the fromagerie’s calmest goats was brought out for us to milk. Starting with a demonstration, Noah, a boy who worked on the fromagerie, handed us a one cup of fresh goat milk and asked the group if anyone wanted a taste. A bit reluctant at first, we looked around at each other. However, Madame Nichols quickly explained to us that if we wanted a turn in milking the goat, we would have to try at least a sip of the milk. That convinced the majority of the group to get in line for a taste.
With this exciting and definitely new experience under our belts, it was time to learn about the entire cheese making process. We got a close look into two crucial parts of the farm. First, we stepped into where the milk was first taken from all of the goats, able to hold around twenty goats at a time, and then the room where the cheese was actually crafted from the milk. In order to maintain a sanitary environment in the second room, all individuals were required to put plastic over their shoes. With all our questions answered, we returned back to our cars where a plate of three different types of cheeses were waiting for us, varying in mildness and the extent to which they had been aged.
As we left the farm, we thanked the cheese-experts and were given the opportunity to buy some high-quality goat cheese for our homestay families, who were waiting for us as we arrived at our houses for the night. On the way back to the center of Tours, where all of us could either catch our buses or walk home, Mr. Taft allowed us to play some of the music we had heard in our morning classes, creating a full-circle of all that we had learned over the day about the life and culture in this otherwise new-to-us country.