French: The Language of Love

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French is often called “the language of love,” and for one American couple, that’s quite literally true.  According to, French was the spark that ignited an enduring romance between Pamela Saltzman, a teacher from New Jersey, and Badreddine Ahtchi, a graduate student from Algeria.

The two met after being dragged out to a bar by their respective groups of friends. Ms. Saltzman had studied French in college and loved the language, which was Mr. Ahtchi’s native tongue. When she heard him speaking French, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to introduce herself and get some practice in. She told

“We had a short conversation in French, and he asked me to dinner.”

One dinner turned into a series of dates. Ms. Saltzman became entranced by both Mr. Ahtchi and by his Algerian culture:

“He introduced me to a whole world I didn’t know. It’s a beautiful, rich, Old World culture.”

At his urging, she went back to school for her Masters degree. Their relationship turned into a marriage strong enough to weather years of separation while Mr. Ahtchi worked in Algeria. Many people argue that marriage is easier if the two people involved come from similar cultures, but how many marriages could survive similar trials? Mrs. Ahtchi explained the source of their union’s strength:

“Our passion for multiethnic cuisine inspired by our travels remains a driving force for us. You have to let each other follow their passion and give them space to do that and support it,” she added. “Set time aside for fun and relaxation. Celebrate life. Make time for each other.”

That’s great advice for married couples, in any language!

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