Wednesday, January 9, 2008
New Holiday Traditions
We spent a wonderful holiday season in France. My parents and sister joined us to celebrate Christmas and the New Year French style. We incorporated some new traditions into our celebrations, yet managed to squeeze in a few familiar touches from home. Mom brought me chicken bones (only Maritimers will know what these are), one of my favourite Christmas treats. She also brought summer savory to season the stuffing, and I managed to find cranberry sauce. We blared the Christmas tunes, and had a wonderful time.
As for the French traditions, we enjoyed oysters on several occassions, and had a Buche de Noel for dessert after Christmas supper. We cooked a chapon (the castrated rooster discussed previously) for that same meal. The butcher stuffed it with ground veal and mushrooms. It clearly has more fat than the average chicken; it could have been cooked for days without drying out! It was delicious, and Gilles and I did prefer it over a turkey. We visited a bakery at least once a day. My father, who does not speak French, was so accustomed to the procedure by the end of his visit that he was ordering the baguettes. We sampled many, many French wines and cheeses. The fantastic wines were easy winners with our guests; I can’t say the same about some of the cheeses. They did not agree with my theory that the stinkier the cheese, the better the taste.
The weather was warm and wonderful while they were here. We enjoyed a lunch in the backyard wearing only t-shirts. The weather also made for some great day trips. We visited both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. The Atlantic Coast is only a little over an hour away. While there we visited the French town St Jean de Luz, and the beautiful Spanish town of San Sebastian. The closest point on the Mediterranean is three hours away. There, we walked along a beautiful sandy beach, wider and longer than any we have ever seen. On the way home from that trip we paid a visit to the medieval town of Carcassonne.
Our visitors left a week ago, with full bellies and memory cards. They spent a day in Paris before returning to Canada. We miss them, and are anxiously awaiting our next visitors.