Friday, February 20, 2015

Bridges, Poulet Crudités and Being in the Moment

One day during my ESL Teacher training course in January, I bought a baguette sandwich from the bakery two doors down on Rue Dauphine (right in the heart of the Latin Quarter, such a cool area!) and walked a few blocks north to Pont Neuf and ate my lunch right there on the bridge, overlooking the Seine.

Lunch on Pont Neuf: Poulet Crudité, jus de pomme et pain au chocolat.

Pont Neuf, contrary to its name, is not a ‘new bridge’. It was actually built in 1578 and it has two parts that span the right and left banks of Ile-de-la-Cite. It’s a beautiful place and I was needing a few minutes of calm during a very busy and intensive course. I remember planting myself firmly in the moment, taking a deep, yogic breath, and deliberately acknowledging: “This is my lunch break. I’m eating on Pont Neuf. In Paris. Wow!”

Because life gets busy sometimes. And we often forget to just take a moment and acknowledge where we are and what we’re doing. Sometimes, the scenery of everyday, anywhere, can start to blend together and we can lose track of calm, lovely moments that make life interesting.

So I chose to make that moment count and to enjoy every single bite of my delicious sandwich, there on one of the oldest bridges in Paris.

The sandwich I bought from that bakery was a Poulet Crudité, a chicken sandwich with vegetables and a salad dressing sauce on a crusty baguette. It was tasty and filling and kept me going through the busy afternoons of teaching, observing and planning during my course. Recently, I had some lovely leftover roast chicken and I was inspired to gather the ingredients and make my own version of the Poulet Crudité, right at home. And now, you can too!

Cheese and eggs
You will need:

-one baguette
-Mayo or salad dressing sauce, like ranch
-roast chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces or thin slices
-some cheese of your choice; we used some nice Bleu des Neiges, a combination brie/blue type cheese
-hard boiled eggs, sliced (1 egg per sandwich)
-tomato slices
-lettuce/salad greens

Chicken and Tomatoes


1-Slice the baguette in half, lengthwise.

2-Drizzle the mayo/salad dressing on each half of the bread loaf.

4-Layer the bottom half of the bread with cheese, chicken, egg slices, tomato and lettuce.

5-Assemble the top half of the baguette, slice and serve. Makes two big, dinner-sized sandwiches!

Poulet Crudité: Pret a Manger!
This particular sandwich was eaten for dinner in the comfort of my own home, with the company of my husband. It may not be as exciting as a bridge in Paris, but it’s home and I enjoyed every bite of this sandwich just as much as I enjoyed the other one.

I want to mention that the first time I ate lunch on Pont Neuf, it was Friday, January 9 2015, the day there was a hostage situation underway in Porte de Vincennes. I didn’t know it was happening at the time and where I was in Paris, it was business as usual. The Paris attacks shocked me and my husband, as it shocked the rest of the world and we were quick to reassure our friends and family that we were safe.

Shocked though we were, we still went to the ballet at Palais Garnier that weekend, because life must continue. And the following week, I made a point to buy my lunch again (a different kind of  sandwich from the same bakery) and eat it on Pont Neuf. Because I refuse to live in fear and I want to keep looking for the good in my life, in the people around me, and in my surroundings.

And I’m happy to report that the view was just as picturesque and my sandwich was just as tasty as it was before! Paris is a beautiful and a tough city, having withstood a lot in her history, and I will continue to look for the good in it and take the time to deliberately acknowledge that I’m lucky and happy to be here.

One of my favorite lunch spots in a beautiful and tough city.

I hope you find the time to be in the moment and appreciate where you are, what you're doing and to find the good in it.

Thanks for your support and Happy Sandwich Making!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ciabatta Goodness

Can you pronounce ciabatta?

It’s a tricky one – the ‘ci’ is actually pronounced like ‘chi’, so to say the name of this lovely bread correctly, try ‘chi-batta’. I actually looked up how to pronounce it – thank you Macmillan Dictionary and your audio clips for pronunciation!

Fresh Ciabatta Goodness!
This sudden attention to the pronunciation of foreign words is a result of the intensive English Teacher training course I recently completed at the International Language Center in Paris. I can now apply for English teaching positions and the world is wide open to me once again!

During my course, I brought my lunch from home as much as possible. This was helpful to save money, since buying lunch everyday can be expensive, and to save time, especially on those afternoons when I was teaching. I often brought homemade sandwiches made with ciabatta bread and stuffed with my favorite sandwich innards: multiple types of meat and cheese, veggies and mustard.

Stacked and Packed!
I can get fresh ciabatta bread  at my local grocery store and one loaf can make multiple sandwiches, depending on the size of my appetite: 3 small or 2 large. Ciabatta is lovely bread, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, with lots of nice little nooks and crannies to hold reserves of mustard. It’s a worthy alternative to the baguette and it makes some pretty amazing sandwiches, both fresh and toasted.

A medley of goodness and ingredients
Possible ingredients for some Ciabatta Goodness include:

Meat: Ham, salami, sausage, roast beef, roast chicken or turkey
Cheese: Emmental, gouda, camembert (so good!)
Veggies: Feuilles de chêne (salad greens), arugula, spinach, avocado, red pepper, tomato, etc.
Condiments: Butter, mustard (multiple kinds in the same sandwich!), mayo


1-Cut a fresh ciabatta loaf in half, length wise.
2-Spread butter and/or mustard on the halves, alternating or combining as per your tastes.
3-Pile on your choice(s) of meat(s) and cheese(s).
4-Top with veggies.
5-Assemble the top half of the loaf.
6-Cut to your desired size and number of sandwiches.
7-Serve and enjoy!

One Ciabatta Loaf = Multiple Sandwiches!
To create a tasty toasted ciabatta sandwich, place both halves of the bread (after the meat and cheese are in place, but before adding the veggies) in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, top with veggies, cut and serve!

Tasty and Toasty Ciabatta Sandwich
This sandwich was a conversation starter among my new classmates during my course and it was extremely filling to eat for lunch. It also works well at sandwich parties or potlucks, where there are lot of fun ingredient combinations to play with. We brought some ciabatta to a recent gathering of sandwich lovers (friends) and they were a big hit there too.

So give it a try with your favorite ingredients and when someone asks you about your sandwich, because they will, tell them it’s all in the ciabatta bread and help them pronounce it correctly.

Just don’t talk with your mouth full!

Upside-down Ciabatta Goodness.