My French Heaven

LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY AND CULINARY ADVENTURES

Category: Art de vivre & Design

The awesome power of greed and gluttony… and story telling

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It’s quite simple really, if you want the people you love to get together (come together), all you have to do is promise to give away presents and really good food. Loads of it. An orgy of food! You can cut through people’s ego and pride quite easily – “Oh, I don’t know if we can make it this year. We owe money to aunt Selma you know and we don’t get along with… – by adding a good old tale or story to the mix:

Example 1: Come to dinner on Saturday. We’ll have a tree and presents for everyone + lots of alcohol + it’s baby Jesus birthday. You can’t miss it!

Example 2: I know we’ve been fighting a lot lately (your new wife being such a gold digger and all), but come to dinner on Saturday. We’ll have turkey and pie and mashed potatoes + a game on TV + we have to give thanks for all those nice native Americans giving us food and shelter when we needed it

Example 3: Let’s have brunch on Monday for a change. Bring the kids. There’s loads of chocolate all over the garden + we have to celebrate the fact that Jesus did indeed come back and that Moses helped the Jewish people escape Egypt

So yes, as I said, the recipe is simple: if you want the people you love to get together despite all the traditional family fudes and usual bullshit, all you have to do is promise loads of free food and presents + nice story telling to create the opportunity. If that doesn’t work, say y’all have to do it for the kids and baby Jesus. Or better yet for grandma who may not be here next year to enjoy it… I think I should have called this post “The awesome power of guilt”…

It’s a little late to post about this, but we had quite a special Easter weekend this year. A marathon really. I had my dear friend Quitterie, her husband and two kids at my house on Saturday. We did the egg hunt in the garden and then took the kids to the ancient windmills on the hill. They loved it! I spent Sunday with some of my nephews in Poitiers and Monday was at my parents’ with another bunch of nephews. Witnessing the egg hunt never gets old…

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For those who are still wondering (and I understand how confusing it can be), let’s review the symbols:

  1. Why do we celebrate Easter? One, to celebrate the return of Spring after the cold, dark and wet months of Winter. Two, to celebrate the resurrection of baby Jesus (grown ass Jesus actually). Three, to celebrate the escape of the Jewish people from Egyptian tyranny.
  2. Why the eggs and bunnies? They are the symbol of growth and fertility. We got that from the pagan traditions (way before the religious stuff came along)
  3. Why the chocolate? In ancient times, people gave away eggs for Easter. Indeed, after the fast and the chicken not knowing they could afford not laying eggs for a few days, there was an abundance of said eggs. They were given away so they wouldn’t go bad. Now, about the chocolate: In the 19th century, chocolate makers in the North East of France and Germany thought it would be fun (and very lucrative indeed) to dip the eggs in chocolate and sell them for a profit. And so they did. Later, moulds were made and real eggs altogether disappeared from the equation.
  4. Why the winged bells? Traditionally, church bells aren’t rung during the fast and few days before Easter. People had to find a story to tell the kids who were wondering why this silence. The kids were told that the bells all flew to Rome to see the Pope and flew back on Easter morning carrying chocolate eggs.
  5. Why eat lamb? In the Jewish faith, the lamb represent God’s commandment to Moses to sacrifice one lamb per family and spread their blood on the doors of all Jewish homes. For the Christians, it represents the innocent being sacrificed, as well as the virtues of goodness and kindness and all that good stuff… In France, we serve the lamb with “flageolets”. The tradition comes from Germany I think…

I am telling you! Just promise food and tell a good story. You can get away with just about ANYTHING!

This year, my niece made a stew: Lamb shoulder (brazed) + tons of shallots (browned) + water and herbs. All this was placed in a cast iron pot and cooked on low heat for 7 hours! We didn’t serve the traditional beans with it, but truffled mashed potatoes instead. It hit the spot nicely! :0) I had lam chops and beans on Monday (I didn’t want to mess with tradition you understand…

My French Heaven can be hell… but chocolate always helps!

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I may call it my French heaven, but it can be hell sometimes (mostly in my head). Life isn’t perfect, and it shouldn’t be. Pretending may work for some people. It has never worked for me.

So here I was yesterday, having a rotten time. You know, one of those rainy days where you feel blue and wonder what the hell your soldiering on for. One of those days where food is tasteless and the colors are just gone. Believe me when I tell you that when I don’t feel like eating, it’s a sign that something is seriously wrong…

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Then, around 4pm, my dear friend Mimi sends me an e-mail. It is a one sentence e-mail with a silly joke. I laugh. I answer. I make myself a cup of tea. I feel a little better. That e-mail was my trigger. A simple laugh and the feeling that someone I care about is thinking of me… That gave me the courage I needed to start my “shitty day emergency routine”. My own recipe to turn things around on those days I have convinced myself that my life doesn’t amount to much. Not enough at least to keep fighting or even hope. Here is the recipe. Maybe it can work for you in case of such an “emergency”:

  1. Find a trigger. It may be a friend calling, the sound of a child laughing, an aroma coming from the kitchen, a short e-mail from a friend or a loved one. Just standing up from the couch may be enough (the motion/emotion thing always works for me)
  2. Make yourself a cup of tea or hot coco
  3. Open the cupboard and grab some chocolates
  4. Eat as many chocolates as you want (ice cream works too). Whether you are 150 pounds or 600, I don’t care. You are beautiful! Eat the damn chocolate!
  5. Put an old movie on. Mary Poppins or Singing in the rain always work for me
  6. Spend a solid hour (or two) on Pinterest. It’s full of inspiring stuff (highly addictive though. Be careful)
  7. Read nice comments people had left on your blog. I always save my favorite ones.
  8. By this time, I usually feel well enough to get the next productive task started. A blog post that I hope will make someone’s day brighter, a guest’s itinerary I’ve been procrastinating on (analysis paralysis), some house cleaning…

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So now I guess you know exactly what I did from 4pm to 7pm yesterday :0)

If you are wondering, the chocolate came from Cadiot-Badie. The best and oldest chocolate factory and store in Bordeaux. The shop opened in 1823.

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The ladies certainly look happier in 2015. I guess they are allowed a few free chocolates each day….

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I guess what I mean to say is this:

  1. Don’t stay in your head!
  2. It’s OK to feel bad sometimes. It doesn’t mean that it will last. Allow yourself to feel what you have to feel
  3. Mary Poppins and good chocolate beat pills every time!!

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Spring wedding in My French Heaven

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Nothing better than a Spring wedding to lift up the spirit. My dear friends Vincianne and her long time partner Christophe finally said yes to each other yesterday. No priest, no fuss; just a beautiful Spring day with their closest family and friends.

The family, like mine, is half Italian and you know what that means: warm hearts, lively conversations and a dinner menu that would have made Berlusconi blush :0)

Enough said. Here are a few pictures of the lovely affair:

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