April 29, 2011
It's a warm and balmy spring evening. Harvard Square is packed with throngs of students and tourists, milling about, rushing and peddling to unknown rendezvous and destinations. Sandrine's Bistro on Holyoke Street is also doing a lively business with diners enjoying the fresh evening air in the open dining room. I am here to say "Farewell" (Adieu) to two teachers from Strasbourg, France who have just finished their week-long educational exchange at the Boston Public Schools and are now heading back to their homes in Alsace.
Mary Louise Burke, President of the Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association, greets me and introduces me to the exchange guests. Rachel Audhuy is a graduate of Assumption College in Worcester and a teacher of English at the Lycee Internationale in Strasbourg. Christophe Bock is a teacher of English at the Lycee Pasteur, a school noted for its multi-racial success with students of working class backgrounds. Mary Louise explains that the two Alsatian teachers are the first to honor a new partnership of exchange between English teachers in Alsace and the French teachers in the Boston Schools.
In 1996, I was part of one of these exchanges. Twelve French teachers traveled to Alsace where we were guests of teachers from that region of France. During our two week journey, we were treated to many fine cultural, dining, and travel events. The following year, 1997, we hosted these same teachers in our own homes in Boston.
Back to the dinner where Raymond Ost, Chef/Owner of Sandrine's, prepared a delicious and exciting menu for us. Ost, a native of Alsace, is also a recipient of the Merite Agricole, the equivalent of knighthood in France.
We began with an apple and gorgonzola salad studded with spicy cashews in a port wine sauce atop mesclun greens, a glorious welcome to spring. A choice of grilled salmon in lobster coulis or grilled hanger steak with crushed potatoes and haricots verts in a Madeira sauce followed. For dessert, there was a choice of vanilla creme brulee or chocolate kougelhopf, a Strasbourg specialty. It was a warm, dense chocolate cake, drizzled with caramel coulis and served with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate ganache - a delicious send-off for the group.
The Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association is a non-profit cultural organization, managed by volunteers and open to all who are interested in art, economic, and educational exchanges with Strasbourg. It was founded in 1960, by then conductor of the Boston Symphony, Charles Munch, a native of Alsace, France.
It is to be hoped that with this pilot exchange, the teachers of Boston and Strasbourg will continue their close ties and friendships for many years to come.