Thursday, March 25, 2010


So on my birthday, my mom and I went to a family friend's house for dinner. There were seven of us there, and it was lovely. (I think I've been using the word "lovely" a lot recently, but... well, it just seems very applicable at the moment.)

The dinner was nice, the company was wonderful, I got very touching cards and gifts, and for dinner we had raclette. Has anyone else ever had that? I've only had it once, ever, in France. Everyone makes their own little dish using the various meats and vegetables that are on the table, and melts cheese on top of the whole thing. It's delicious, and it's kind of like eating tapas in that you can have lots of different little dishes as your dinner instead of one big dish.

Anyway, the birthday was great and the dinner was great and I was so appreciative that all these people went out of their way to make my birthday so nice. And the raclette was extra special because it reminded me of the one other time I'd ever had it.

It was January 2006 and I'd gone to Ireland for a debate tournament during winter break, and then after we were done in Ireland I went to France for a couple weeks to visit my host family there. And when I arrived it turned out that they had rented a chalet in the Pyrenees for a weekend to celebrate the birthday of a close family friend. So we all drove off, three or four families, like 15 or so people in this giant rented chalet.

When we got there it turned out that someone had arranged to rent 15 sets of snowshoes and poles so we could all go on a little snowshoeing expedition. They were waiting for us outside the chalet, all lined up for us to wear.

I was very nervous about the whole thing. I didn't have the proper clothes, for one thing... only jeans and a wool coat. I ended up borrowing a fleece, and a hat, and little plastic windbreaker things to put over my ankles and calves to prevent my jeans from getting soaked. But I was also worried since I'd never been snowshoeing before, and I wasn't much of a hiker. I was envisioning heading out and getting way behind and making 14 people, many of whom I'd never even met before, stand around waiting for me impatiently.

But it turned out awesome. It was BEAUTIFUL to be able to just walk along a snowy mountain, in places you could normally never go, and see views you could normally never see.

And, it turned out I was good at snowshoeing. I actually led the group, along with my host brother. I liked it so much that I have been really wanting to do it in Colorado. We didn't end up doing it this winter but once the snow starts in the fall I am really hoping to head up to the mountains and rent some snowshoes. Torsten's never done it before, but if he likes it too then maybe we can buy snowshoes eventually in the spring sales and then we can go regularly in the future. It's just so fun and beautiful, and a really enjoyable way to get some exercise.

I miss it. And I liked that I was good at it. When we went that time in the Pyrenees, my host brother and I would often be the ones who would have to stop and wait for the others to catch up.

And then when we got back that evening, we were all freezing and hungry and we sat down at the giant table in the chalet with many pitchers of water and bottles of wine, and we had raclette for dinner.

It was the perfect post-outdoorsy-exercise dinner, lots of potatoes and meat and cheese. It was delicious and everyone enjoyed it. It was very relaxing and we all talked and laughed and had fun. There were like six little kids at the table and they enjoyed it too. Raclette is actually Swiss in origin, I believe, but it felt very French.

And then there I was two days ago, just outside of DC, having raclette again. This time it didn't feel so French, but it definitely felt delicious. And it brought back so many memories of that trip. It's funny, the random little things that trigger so many feelings and memories.

And perfect timing, because now I know I'm going back in two months. And I'm sad that the trip will be so short and that Torsten can't come (and that he's still never been back to France with me, or met my host sister, though he has met the rest of the family). But the trip is going to be awesome.


  1. I first had raclette years ago at some friends (the wife had spent time in Switzerland). Loved it so much, they got us one for a wedding gift. More than 6 years later, I recently sold it on eBay because we'd never used it. I'm such a loser.

  2. Aw, Shelly's comment made me sad.

    I'd never heard of raclette before, but it sounds yummy! What a nice way to spend time with dinner guests.

  3. What great memories. I hope you have fun on your upcoming trip!

  4. I've never had raclette, but it sounds delicious, and also like a good family meal option (my kids love assemble-it-yourself dinners the best).

    Great close (ish) places to snowshoe: the Brainard Lake area, just west of Ward on Highway 72 (the Peak-to-Peak highway) [about an hour outside of Boulder, so an hour and a half or so from Denver];

    - the Moffat Tunnel area (East Portal), outside of Nederland off the Peak-to-Peak highway

    There's also lots of great places around Breckenridge and Winter Park.

    Ooh, now I feel snowshoeing, too. Only, er, next winter. I'm kind of tired of the snow right now.

  5. As I was reading this, I kept thinking it's such a perfect food to serve given you'll be heading back to France so soon. Clearly, you had that in mind, too. Glad your birthday celebrations were wonderful!

  6. What a nice post! The snowshoeing and post-activity raclette dinner sound like a wonderful, perfect way to spend a day. I hope you and Torsten get a chance to go snowshoeing again soon!

  7. oh MAN do i love raclette. and my friend is married to a french guy who OWNS a raclette maker thingy, and they invite me over for raclette every once in a while because they know how much i love it. is yummy.

  8. I love raclette. We have one and use it very often.

    I'm sure Thorsten knows it very well. Along with Fondue this is something Germans have all the time, especially on Christmas or NYE.

  9. I love raclette! Had it once, in France of course. I think my favorite part, besides the cheese, of course, was the pearl onions.

    I was so excited to see the word in your headline in Google reader. :) One never sees that word.

  10. I LOVE Raclette. The first time I had it I was in heaven!

    I also love snowshoeing. It's SUCH good exercise and the scenery is always so beautiful. And I like it because you can go places you normally can't when the snow is gone.

  11. Yummmm, sounds delicious. I wonder how easy/hard it might be to do at you have to cook it again after people make up their little dishes? (i'll look it up)

  12. I love raclette, it's very popular in Germany, especially on New Year's Eve, just like fondue (all of them: chocolate, cheese, meat). :)
    I always find it very fun to do that with friends. I hope you enjoy your trip to France.

  13. I love the outdoors, and I've always wanted to try snowshoeing. :) I guess you're in the right place for it!