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The Francophonie Market: chocolate, Kava and culture

The Francophonie Market took place on Friday, 18th March hosted by the Alliance Francaise of Canberra. Many Canberrans came to discover and sample the world of Francophone countries, with a total of eleven embassies being present to share their cuisine and culture. Art created by school students around the territory also drew great interest.

The fete was in line with the International Francophonie Week which runs from March 17 to March 25 and celebrates all of the French-speaking countries around the world.

According to the Observatoire de la Langue Française, 321 million people speak French, including 255 million daily speakers on five continents.

The Francophonie Market is an opportunity for international business development, as more people are getting interested in the French and Francophone cultures.

With this my day at the Froncophonie festival begun, and to say that I was excited was an understatement!

Photo of the Francophonie market
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

The Swiss Stall

The first stall that I made my way towards was the Swiss stall, which showcased their chocolate, Lindt; one of their national specialties. Switzerland is a chocolate pioneering country and thanks to a number of forerunners, it was one of the first countries to produce chocolate.

Swiss chocolate and milk are a successful formula and a wonderful combination. Daniel Peter came up with the idea of blending milk with chocolate in 1875. It rapidly became a huge success – and one that would forever link Switzerland to chocolate.

In Switzerland, French is the second most widely spoken language. It is primarily spoken in the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, and Jura in western Switzerland.

Photo of the Swiss stall at the Francophonie market.
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

Some say that because of the lengthier vowels, Swiss-French sounds slower. This is fantastic news for basic French speakers, as they will have no trouble conversing with locals from French-speaking areas. Another benefit for French speakers is that renowned tourist attractions like Lausanne and Geneva are totally in French.

The Belgium stall

The next stall I went to was the Belgium stall, which offered many different savours, including their waffles, which are their proud dessert specialty.

Photo of the Belgium stall at the Francophonie market
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

A symbol of the Belgium pastry culture, waffles are now popular all around the world. They are formed from leavened batter or dough that is fried between two plates that are patterned to give it a specific size, shape, and appearance.

Depending on the waffle iron and recipe utilised, there are numerous variants. Especially in Belgium, there are over a dozen regional varieties, with the most popular ones being the Brussels waffles, the Liège waffle, and the Belgian waffles.

Photo of the Egyptian stall at the Francophonie market
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

The Vanuatu stall

The Vanuatu stall presented us with their special kava drink. A sedative, anxiolytic, and anti-stress medicinal herb, Kava is an important economic crop in Vanuatu, supporting both a steady internal market and a burgeoning export trade.

Vanuatu makes around US$7.5 million per year from kava, the most of which is sold to the west coast of the US, where specialty bars have sprouted up, as well as to Pacific communities in Australia and New Zealand.

Photo of the Vanuatu stall at the Francophonie market
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

In the late 18th century, Europeans decided to settle in the area, and in 1906, Britain and France officially claimed the country, managing it jointly through the British-French Condominium. In the 1970s, an independence movement was formed, and the Republic of Vanuatu was established in 1980.

French, English, and Bislama are the spoken languages in Vanuatu however, Bislama is the official language. There are strong linkages between local language, geography, and identity, yet many individuals are bilingual.

The Canadian Stall

The Canadian stall represented the Quebec people who speak French. They offered 100% Quebec maple syrup muffins which is a culinary specialty from Quebec as maple syrup is Canadian originally. The texture is chewy which is very satisfying and delicious. It also has a moist crumb, which adds something unique to this muffin. This makes all the difference.

Photo of the Canadian stall at the Francophonie market
Photo courtesy Alliance Francaise of Canberra

Canadian people who speak French have their own expressions such as “Cogner des clous”. This expression is used to describe the behaviour of someone who tries to stay awake despite the obvious weariness. It means against the slumber, speak as well as you can.

2nd photo of the Canadian stall at the Francophonie market
Photo by Anis Hamiti

Quebec is the only French-speaking province in Canada. Bill 101, a Quebec law from the 1970s, is the cause behind this. Bill 101, often known as the Charter of the French Language, made French the primary language of everyday life in Quebec, including in workplaces, businesses, and even on street signs.

3rd photo of the Canadian stall at the Francophonie market
Photo by Anis Hamiti

The Francophonie market was the perfect exhibition of the savours and flavours of the Francophonie. The market attracted the Canberra multicultural community for a superb moment of sharing.

Australian and non-French speaking people came to discover the Francophone cultures, as they discovered new food and new people that they are not used to. If you missed this year’s event don’t worry, there is always next year!