La Grande Bouffe

The Christmas season this year was The Marathon Of Joy and Good Food.

December 20th: Olivier and I made our way through the perfect layer of snow to Paris, kicking off the celebrations with a Depois family lunch. Everyone welcomed me so warmly, made me feel like a part of the big bustling festivities, and we all ate our hearts out with delicious cuisine. And I was overjoyed to finally meet people I had heard so many good things about, and the talented Marion, who makes beautiful, kwirky jewelry that I love. Then, after lunch, we brushed off our sedation and all the kids, plus Maminic of course, joined us for a vicious snow ball fight in the back yard. Maminic and Papili are two of the most wonderful, gracious people and I thank you both so much for everything, for the soup blender which I have already used and laughed the whole time (very fun! kind of messy, I have to perfect my skills) and for the fun sleepover! Foie Gras Count: 1.

December 21st – 25th: After saying our goodbyes to Maminic and Papili around mid-day, we packed up our things and trudged through the metro and snow to the apartment my parents and the Semnachers had rented – which was massive with lots and lots of art by Cocteau (Cocteau EVERYWHERE). It was a gay man’s fantasy, with all that phallic art, but worked just as well for our crazy families of 7 people total (maybe not big for you, but HUGE for me, my family is tiny tiny), running around, cooking, jumping into the bathrooms to take showers when you had the chance. We saved every bottle of wine we drank (not my idea, nor Claire’s, but our parents) and had a fine collection running the span (and maybe more) of the gigantic mantle piece by the end of the stay. And we cooked up some of the most exquisite dishes (thanks mostly in part to my mother and Paul), things like: bouillon base soup with gorgeous cockles, scallops, shrimps, fish, tomatoes and saffron, a beautiful fat goose for Christmas day, you can imagine what a good time we had! And for Christmas, we went to the midnight mass at Saint Eustache, which was highly impressive with red candles sprinkled all over, the high ceilings lit up with carols, and the most beautiful organ in Paris. Foie Gras Count: 2.

December 26th: The day after Christmas the Semnachers and the Morrish/Dvells/Kvan clan wrapped ourselves tightly in our coats, gloves, hats and scarves jumped quickly into two cabs and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. After taking elevators to the 2nd floor, my mom, Claire, Paul, Mikaela, and I jostled our way onto the elevator to the tippy-top. I got a big woozy because for some reason I now sort of dislike heights but the view was amazing (ahhhh….puke) so I liked to stay on the upper level with the glass and the photo maps where you can identify landmarks. Then, after making our way back down the tower (phew, thank god…) I ran off to take the train to meet the Clairouin family. It was so wonderful to meet the other side of the family and to finally put so many faces to names I had heard so often, and finally the Clairouin grandparents, who were so warm and kind to me – and gave me a brilliantly blue scarf! Thank you so much, it’s my perfect color! I am just absolutely overwhelmed by how welcoming, generous, and affectionate the entire Clairouin and Depois family is. I cannot thank you enough! Foie Gras Count: 3.

December 27th: The Clairouin family (except for JB and Angelique, I wish you could have been there!) came over to the apartment for an enormous lunch: champagne, red wine, porc filled with figs and encrusted in fennel, roast potatoes, salad, magnificent cheese from Normandie, and a beautiful apple tart made by Mikaela. So much fun, so many laughs, and perfect to have everyone together. Then we went for a long walk across the Seine, while the sun set, and attempted to walk off some calories from the past week.

December 28th-29th: The last days in Paris were filled with running around, buying the last bits and bobs, checking out a vintage store where everything was imported from the USA (oh, well…), and a Jonak stock store (Ah! Cheap leatherrrr…puurrrrr, meow). Our goodbyes were said to the Semnachers on the 29th as we made our way to Lille.

December 29th-30th: Bill, mom, and Mikaela loved Lille. We split up so we could cover our own territory: Bill heading off to check out Rem Koolhaas’ buildings and the rest of us to poke around Vieux Lille. It was cozy to have them here to see our apartment, to cook some good meals, and to forget about the forever grey skies in Lille.

December 31st-January 1st: After saying goodbye to my family in the morning, we went off to the grocery store to stock up on champagne and food for the evening and at 5pm the gang arrived: PARTY TIME! It was so much fun to see all our friends again, to joke around, cook, and eat drink eat drink eat drink eat drink drink drink. It was an amazing and relaxing New Years. In the morning (no, actually, afternoon), despite what I think must have been negative temperatures, we took a walk around town, ate roasted chestnuts, and came back to the apartment for a cup of tea. After everyone left, Olivier and I watched a classic French film from 1973, recommended by Bruno, about four best friends who decide to kill themselves by overeating and having sex with the same women (no, no, not killing themselves by having sex with the same women, that was just another part of the plot), anyways, really 1970s French artistique. Seriously, either the best way to end this marathon or the worst…either way, I don’t feel like eating ever again 😉 (but you know that I’m only 1/4 kidding when I say that!). Foie Gras Count: 4 (And we still have some in our fridge. Please call me if you would like it. Seriously, call me.)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “La Grande Bouffe

  1. Mom

    Ma petite fille, c’est bouillabaisse! And, it was divine, if I may say so myself. Such an indulgence to have really FRESH ingredients available. It was hard coming back to Charlottesville to shop at Kroger where there is no boulevard de fromage as there is at Carrefour!

  2. Mom

    Ah, yes… it would be interesting to compare La Grande Bouffe with Babette’s Feast now, don’t you think?

    • lostandfoundinfrance

      Yes! Definitely a very interesting comparison – both say a lot about each country’s culture towards indulgence. Mhm…future paper?

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