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The introductory speech by Carlo Lefevre
When I was asked to prepare a small speech to present this event, I started by looking through the various courses on offer at the ILV and I found « English for lawyers », « Interactive English for physical educators » or « Business English » but nothing like « How to make the perfect scrambled eggs » or for the advanced levels “How to cook like Jaimie”. And indeed you might wonder why the ILV should organise an Elizabethan meal with some of its students and teachers. In my view, the answer is very simple: a language doesn’t exist in itself but is only the result of a given culture. By culture, I mean not only literature, music, visual arts, but also fashion, food etc…
So, when my colleague in the French department Jacqueline Pairon came up with the idea of “Langues et cultures”, I immediately thought that it could be the perfect opportunity to combine both my passions, cooking and English. But ay there’s the rub? If Britannia rules the world it certainly doesn’t rule the world of cuisine in the minds of the vast majority of people. Wrongly so. They have wonderful traditional dishes like meat pies, Cornish pasties, cheese cakes, etc… not to mention their wonderful cheeses Shropshire blue, stilton, double Gloucester and so on… Thus, I had to find something that would appeal to the public and the Elizabethan era seemed to be the perfect choice. It was so rich in literature, music, visual arts and the cuisine was for the time very innovative thanks to the many new ingredients that had been discovered in the new world. Furthermore, I knew that I could capitalize on the success of the film “Elizabeth” with Kate Blanchett. So I went for it. And your presence here proves that I was right…
Now why involve the students in the organisation of such an event? What could they gain from such an experience? A lot I think. First and foremost, they could gain a skill that will inevitably be highly valued by their future employers: the ability to work in a team on a common project; then, they could put their English to the test outside the classroom in a close-to-real-life situation. Finally, they discovered, while choosing the decoration, the music, the costumes for this event, a historic period they didn’t know and as you will see some of them even found their new vocation: acting or dancing.
(For those who might wonder, this is not my usual attire when I teach at the ILV)
But enough words, thank you once again for coming and enjoy your meal.