Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Class Routine—Biochemistry, Microbiology, a 2-hour lunch, and Medieval History (June 14th, 2011)

After my morning run through the town of Cluny, I was exhausted, but exhilarated. I ran the country route through the hills, the pastures, and went running into town. The smells of the early morning cafes and fresh bread let me almost taste the goodness! I showered and ran back to breakfast and warmly greeted by Madame (the woman who runs the hostel that we call madame) to a breakfast of fresh baguettes, jam, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. After many cups of coffee, we were all off to class, which was next door in the hostel’s hall.
Today was the first full day of class in Cluny. We brushed up on biochemistry and microbiology so that everyone was on the same page. I can now wake up at 3 AM and tell you that fructose-1,6-bisphosphate is the intermediate the regulates glycolysis—in the EMP pathway thanks to Dr. Haggblom’s “why and how” discussion. Having a small class and learning by discussing really helped retain and learn the science. To recharge ourselves, we went out to lunch in Cluny to a local café. I had the most delicious pea and carrot soup with emmental cheese and garlic croutons with a glass of Macon rosé wine. Gastronomy and taking time to eat is a big part of the French culture. There is no such thing as “to go” here because everybody eats a proper lunch here and it considered vulgar to rush food. Local stores and shops close in between 12-2PM for a lunch break, while people flock at the local cafés even for just a cup of coffee. There is no such thing as coffee to go either! For dessert, we had espresso before heading back to class.
We spent the afternoon walking around Cluny for a history lesson with Dean Reinert. I had no idea that Cluny was the center of Christianity in medieval times. I also have a new appreciation for monks. In medieval times, the monks made the cheese and sometimes wine for the town—hence, towns started to grow around the monasteries. Under the Benedictine rule, the monks practiced poverty, chastity, and humility while working each day. Work and prayer was thought to lead to salvation. Before the French Revolution, Cluny was a grand monastery with old castle-like walls and towers. Some parts of the town have been restored, but a lot of it has to be imagined.
After class, everyone went out together to the market to gather food for tomorrow’s excursion to a vinery and goat farm. We bought a variety of cheeses, meats, fruits, and wine to have a grand picnic by the lake. The picnic would be part of our usual 2-hour lunch of course. As usual, pictures are below:


Daily Breakfast

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