Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 38 – Le Réveillon de Noël

A short day of classes today to prepare for Christmas! The only sad news is that it was also Margaux’s last day of classes =( We’ll miss you!!

Tonight I was fortunate enough to join Reina and her host family for dinner. One of the French Christmas traditions is Le Réveillon, traditionally a feast held after midnight mass, but now just a Christmas Eve dinner.

Ok, JUST a dinner doesn’t do it justice. We ate for hours! We started with champagne or a Kir Royale for the aperitif and foie gras and other assortments for the hors d'œuvre. We had a delcious salmon and avocado amuse bouche followed by an incredible seafood platter – with oysters, prawns, crab claws and sea snails! (Suprisingly, not all that bad. Here’s my tip – eat them with the mayonnaise that’s offered!)

Following this there was another dish of foie gras, and for the plat principal we had a traditional roast chapon – a fat, castrated chicken. It tastes better than any chicken I’ve ever had, and very very moist. This was served with green beans wrapped in ham, potatoes and hot roasted chestnuts, which I have been waiting to try.  C’était très magnifique!

But wait, there’s more. All this was followed by a cheese platter and green salad, very traditional, but salad is a little strange before dessert! Dessert was a chocolate Buche de Noël, served with champagne rosé.

So incredibly full! It was an amazing experience to be with a family for the Christmas traditions. Unlike in Australia, children don’t put sacks out for Santa’s presents – they leave their shoes under the Christmas tree! The beautiful little girl thought the more shoes, the more gifts, so brought all her shoes downstairs to set out under the tree.  In some families it’s also tradition to leave champagne, not milk, for Père Noël to drink.

They were a lovely family. Very friendly and inclusive and the children were gorgeous. The grandparents even drove me back home! And they had the most beautiful little French home, would love to life in a place like that!

And to top of a wonderful evening, it started snowing! A white Christmas indeed!!


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