Skip to content

How My French Exchange Student Stole Prom (Marinated Mushrooms)

When I was a freshman in high school, I asked my parents if we could host a French exchange student for two weeks.  Unfortunately, they said yes.

And so Cendrine came to stay.

She was blonde and tall.  She wore Levis three-times tighter than my Gap jeans.  Every night she applied expensive ladies’ eye cream while I struggled with an alarming array of facial products marketed to teenage girls.

Worst of all, she had boobs.

For at least this reason, Cendrine was a big hit with the boys at school.  They gave me dozens of notes addressed to her.  I read the notes out loud in the student parking lot, translating as I went, while she smoked cigarettes.

For a week, I ran this Pony Express/translation/dating service for her.  And then one of the notes asked her to prom.

I started seriously considering ways I could have her extradited.

At my school, you were guaranteed to go to prom as a junior and a senior.  You might get invited as a freshman or sophomore if you were really popular.  And for the 14 freaking days Cendrine was in the United States of America, she was really popular.

I wish I could say prom was canceled or Cendrine was sent home after robbing the Levis section of J.C. Penny.  But that’s not what happened.

What happened was Cendrine went to prom and I heroically stayed home and did something awesome, like my Biology homework.  Or maybe I puffy-painted a t-shirt or practiced rollerblading.  Whatever.

But I will tell you this: Rollerblading really improved my balance.  This meant that when I got invited to prom the next year, I did not fall down the stairs.  So, win.

And by not buying expensive eye cream starting at age 15, I’ve probably saved $5,000 or more.

That is a lot of money that I can spend on t-shirts and puffy paint now!


But I may spend under 10 bucks on homemade antipasto now and then.

Like marinated mushrooms, as sloppy and tangy as they make ’em in an Italian deli.

I assumed I had to buy marinated mushrooms.  I didn’t realize that all you do is put them in some vinegar, wine, olive oil and garlic and leave them for as little as an hour.  Whee!

Marinated Mushrooms {Download & Print Recipe}


1 lb. button mushrooms

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. white vinegar

1/4 c. white wine

3 cloves garlic

4 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

dash salt & pepper

(optional, for color) 1-4 tbsp. fresh red, yellow or orange sweet or bell pepper, diced


Clean the mushrooms and trim the stems up to the level of the cap.  Cut the mushrooms into halves or quarters, as you prefer.  Place mushrooms in a bowl.

Dice the garlic and chop the parsley (and fresh peppers, if desired)

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, wine, parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and pepper in a screw-top jar and shake well.

Pour the marinade over the mushrooms (and the peppers, if desired) and toss.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 2 days.  Turn the mushrooms occasionally as they marinate.

Serve the mushrooms as hors d’oeuvres at room temperature with toothpicks or forks.


1. 1/2 c. white wine vinegar can be substituted for the vinegar + white wine.

2. In the picture above, the mushrooms had marinated for 1 day.  They were perfect for my taste.  They’re also good just an hour after you put them in the fridge, but they’re firmer and the flavor is not as intense.

Take 1: Alert

Take 2: Determined

Take 3: Sad?

Take 4: Rocking Out

Follow Me on Pinterest

47 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love the fact that this marinated mushrooms recipe is connected to the story of this fun-gal, foreign exchange student. . . Recipe looks great!

    January 5, 2012
    • Fun-gal. Fun…gal. You never cease to amaze me. Too bad the recipe didn’t involve corn– then I could say a-maize me.

      January 5, 2012
  2. Diane #

    I should not read your blog while I’m at work. This made me laugh LOUDLY out loud!

    January 5, 2012
    • Oh Diane, I am so glad. Your laughing makes up for the tears that 14-year-old me once shed over this story. Now it makes me chuckle, too. Have a good rest of your day!

      January 5, 2012
  3. Sue #

    I totally read your blog for the stories, because I maybe the worst cook in the world. Although,I do enjoy perusing through the recipes and thinking “holy shit, that would take a lot of work”. I follow that thought up with a short nap. Thanks for making me laugh and making me feel bad about my inability to cook anything beyond minute rice… just kidding.

    January 5, 2012
    • Ha. Sue, I had the same reaction when I was reading a New York Times recipe/food blog today. It was so complicated that I felt inadequate and wanted to take a nap. I seriously did not understand a quarter of the words in it. I bet the author of it was into expensive eye cream when she was seven.

      Thanks for reading!

      January 5, 2012
  4. My sister-in-law is from France. She’s all disgustingly beautiful and rolls out of bed looking that way. She wears bathing suits. I do not. There’s a reason the French have the reputation they do: they are totally awesome. So we must hate them. It is law.

    January 5, 2012
    • I find swimming in white t-shirts and mesh shorts to be the safest way to go, provided there are not a lot of barnacles around for these flowing materials to get caught on.

      You can’t let her get you down, movita. Just remember that all her circuits will back-fire if you slip her a slice of Kraft american cheese. She doesn’t have the enzymes to digest plastic foodstuffs, and while she’s incapacitated, you can steal her eye cream.

      As they say, “Courage!”

      January 5, 2012
      • HAHAHA. Will you two please continue this chain of comments? Also – Umbros.

        January 8, 2012
        • UMBROS!! I assume you mean the umbros that I used to wear in the pool with the waist band rolled down. I had totally forgotten about this, but when I went to my parents’ house over the holidays, I found some umbros in an old drawer. I wondered why all the elastic was busted on the waist bands. I suppose years of chlorine will do that to an Umbro. Someone should write to them about that.

          January 9, 2012
  5. Very funny blog and the mushrooms look ridiculously tasty!

    January 5, 2012
    • The only reason I am not running out to buy the ingredients for your butternut squash risotto or your stewed peppers is because I just had lunch. Otherwise, it would be a tough call between the two, man oh man.

      The mushrooms are indeed tasty. And the longer they sit, the tastier they get!

      January 5, 2012
  6. I loved your story…it made me laugh out loud! 🙂 The mushrooms look amazing as well!

    January 5, 2012
    • Hiya! They were pretty tasty. You couldn’t go wrong on a picnic with some of your herb bread and my mushrooms–delicious!

      January 5, 2012
  7. Puffy paint and rollerblading?! You must, ummmm like! totally be my age! Squeal!

    I definitely was not cool enough to go the prom as a freshman. Or a sophomore. Or a junior. I probably stayed home and watched Friends or something.

    I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad that I didn’t have a Frenchie Barbie lookalike scapegoat!

    January 5, 2012
    • Oh Alison, now I can tell you that when I was home for the holidays, sleeping in my old room, I found my Friends cookbook. It was called the Central Perk Cookbook or something. Every recipe in it was mediocre. But I kept making them anyway.

      That pretty much sums up my misguided youth, Alison. I am glad you understand.

      January 5, 2012
      • GASP! Let’s make Rachel’s Trifle! With lady fingers, jam, custard, beef sauteed with peas and onions and whipped cream on top…

        That one will surely be far from mediocre!

        January 5, 2012
        • Dude. That is hilarious. I am so glad you dug that up. By the way, I still want that haircut. Is that wrong?

          January 5, 2012
  8. It would have never crossed my mind to go to prom as a Freshman… Even as a Junior, it was dubious (and ours was a Junior Prom). I asked my date to go with me, he wore a plaid vest, the night was terrible. (Except, I was a Prom Princess and my BFF was Prom Queen, cause that’s how we roll). My Russian foreign exchange student came to prom that night and took a gazillion pictures of ME! Whee!!! (I’m sure they were used as spy fodder, wondering what all these teenage kids were doing in glam dresses and tuxedos…)

    January 5, 2012
    • Prom princess? So awesome. With a tiara and everything? I can see being a little peeved about the plaid vest–it just does not go with diamonds. (I have this problem all the time.)

      January 16, 2012
  9. The boys are always in love with those exchange students! And those exchange students always wear really tight pants!

    January 5, 2012
    • (Sigh.) That is the truth, sister. The truth!

      January 5, 2012
  10. actorsdiet #

    love this post. i had a french exchange student too but it was my pre-frosh student i had problems with. she killed my turtle! but that’s another story.

    January 5, 2012
    • I think the world would be a better place if you told that story. I kind of love it already, even though I imagine it was very painful. I hate your pre-frosh student, if that’s any consolation.

      I had a turtle once, and he disappeared. Which, now that I think about it, was pretty disturbing. Let’s avoid turtles from now on, shall we?

      January 5, 2012
  11. Krisann #

    Two boys asked me to the Homecoming dance, and I wish now I had gone with the cute and gentlemanly Brazilian foreign exchange student, instead of the classmate I had such a gigantic crush all over in a retrospectively non-discreet, very embarrassing way, because the whole affair might have been less slimy after all was said and done.

    Speaking of slime, I can’t stand mushrooms! It may be odd to ask for a mushroom substitute in a mushroom recipe, but I can’t help but feel this treatment is used in other deli foods too. Thoughts?

    January 5, 2012
    • What about artichoke hearts?

      January 6, 2012
      • That’s a really good idea. Artichoke hearts packed in water– you could squish out all the water after you drain them and see if they soak up the vinaigrette. I will give that a try. I was thinking hearts of palm, too. I LOVE them. You could get the canned, whole hearts of palm spears and cut them into rounds.

        Asparagus? You could blanche it and then cut into thirds and then toss in the vinaigrette? I’ll give these all a shot sometime and report back.

        January 6, 2012
      • Krisann #

        mmmhm, all great ideas. I look forward to the report.

        January 6, 2012
      • Krisann, maybe you should try The Shoe Guy’s Marinated Mushroom recipe, because it looks like it’d work better with other veggies. It’s at

        He heats the mushrooms in the oil and vinegar for a few minutes to facilitate the absorbtion of the good stuff. If you did this with cauliflower or the other veggies he suggests in his post, maybe you’d have something that both you and the husband would enjoy?

        January 8, 2012
    • Krisann, Homecoming sounds terrible. But you really think going with the Brazilian exchange student would have been better? It sounds like it. But I’m having a hard time imagining that because when I get around Brazilian men, it’s ME being a sketchball that I worry about. 🙂

      January 6, 2012
  12. Loved this and your little pup! He/She is like a cross between my two guys: Paddington the pug (whom you met on my blog today) and Sampson my English Bulldog (who has graced the presence of my blog previously). P.s. My husband just got a bunch of mushrooms from the asian market so I’m totally trying this recipe!

    January 5, 2012
    • Sampson is an AWESOME name for a bulldog. Respect.

      January 6, 2012
  13. Oh I am drooling over this it looks so warm and comforting

    January 6, 2012
    • Heya, thanks! I hear you. Once you have a hankering for marinated mushrooms, it’s hard to kick it. I like them cold or at room temperature, but if warm is your thing, I don’t see why not! I actually threw some on a pizza we ordered the other night, and they were delicious (and probably a bit warmed up).

      January 6, 2012
      • MrsH #

        Oh my word, I thought these looked tasty before but the idea of tossing them on pizza makes my pregnant tastebuds tingle at the thought.

        January 7, 2012
        • Congratulations! I am sure there are lots of things you’re missing, so I do hope that you get to make these! If you’re not having any alcohol at all (and I am not judging– I know there are differing opinions), did you see the note about how you can use white wine vinegar instead of the wine + vinegar? You could also just use regular vinegar if there’s alcohol in white wine vinegar, but I haven’t checked that.

          Wishing you the most delicious pizza and a happy pregnancy!

          January 7, 2012
  14. Oh I’m loving your cool blog! Just brilliant. Greetings from the UK x

    January 6, 2012
    • Yours is neat, too. What a good looking family you have there!

      January 6, 2012
  15. Ann #

    Your story reminds me why I will never go to France. I’m sticking to the British Isles, where the competition isn’t so stiff. Except for that person who posted above me, of course. She’s lovely (as is your mushroom recipe-simple, but elegant!).

    January 6, 2012
    • Oh I do wish I could change places with you today. I’d love to be in the British Isles. It’s rainy here, and the change of scenery would be so nice. We could have tea!!! (Sigh.)

      January 7, 2012
  16. Those look amazing. I love marinated mushrooms. Your recipe is similiar to mine, kinda They both have mushrooms I’m going to have to give this a whirl. The pictures are making me drool.
    What is the deal with those imports? They’re always way cooler, more interesting, prettier/more handsome. It must be some stringent screening process designed to subtly undermine the confidence of the host country’s youth.

    January 8, 2012
    • Nice- I referred one of the readers above to your recipe because she has to avoid mushrooms and it looks like yours is better suited to marinating other types of veggies.

      I agree with you on the imports. I think the foreign exchange student program should actually be limited to dorks from other countries. Who’s with me?!

      Take care, Shoe Dude.

      January 8, 2012
  17. I love your blog. Very diverse. The story, the food (who can go wrong with food) and that gorgeous DOG. You got it all.

    January 16, 2012
    • Many thanks to you! I really liked reading your blog too.

      January 16, 2012
  18. marilyn carr #

    I always got them at Sam;s but they no longer have them and I am addicted! so many tks for the receipe

    August 14, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Cleaning out the fridge | operationmeltdown
  2. 5 Reasons Not To Cup « eggton

Leave a Reply to Family Snodgrass Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s