The awesome power of greed and gluttony… and story telling


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…


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…

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Janet says:

    I never knew that about the bells. Your photography is so inspiring. Beautiful.

  2. Vasun says:

    Beautiful candid pictures

  3. juliabarrett says:

    It’s true! Food makes all the difference. Love your history lesson. Eggs are the symbol for spring in so many cultures.

  4. Stephane, I just love your posts. One of the best trips in my life was our two days staying at your wonderful B & B last summer. I will cherish it until the day I die. Determined to return again sometime soon. Two days just wasn’t long enough.
    Warmest Wishes and keep up the photos and blog. Your Japanese one has persuaded my work colleague to agree to her partner’s wish to visit Japan this September.
    Fiona McLellan

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Dear Fiona, it is so nice to hear from you!! I hope Winter hasn’t been too hard on you guys this year. It was pretty mild here for us and Spring is here for good. Everything is growing and blooming. It was so hot today I had to take the top of the car down. Tell your friends they will absolutely love Japan. I am planning to go back soo. Myself. All the best to you. I hope we meet again!!!!

  5. Beautiful post and photos!

  6. What beautiful photos and I haven’t seen or tasted lamb chops since I was a little girl. Happy Easter from a Jewish Manhattan girl born in Brooklyn-Lamb Chop Land in my Mom’s house!!! 🙂

  7. Your photos are always wonderful Stephane, but it’s your sense of humor and storytelling that keeps me coming back. 🙂 Glad you had a lovely Easter weekend – whatever the reason.

  8. Great stories, wonderful photos. It sounds like you have a very enjoyable Easter. We got together with some friends and our child grew up with her children. We were lamenting the fact that we don’t hold Easter egg hunts any more. It was always so fun to watch the kids run around the yard with their baskets.

  9. Linda Duffin says:

    I wouldn’t need an excuse or a guilt trip to come for dinner at your house! Belated happy Easter.

  10. Holidays can be trying and stressful, it looks as though you had a wonderful holiday with delicous food surrounded by family friends. What could be better.

  11. ladyredspecs says:

    A joy to behold as always, thanks for the beautiful interlude in this crazy life!

  12. chef mimi says:

    Great postf! Beautiful photos. I never undertood the baby jesus thing, so thanks for explaining it!!!

  13. Looks like a lovely celebration, gorgeous photos! You’re a talented photographer 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are too kind dear Emma! Thanks a lot. Have a lovely weekend!

  14. Jodi says:

    Oh Stephane! Your photos! Your words! (sigh!) You are the master of picture and storytelling – even when making fun! 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Jodi!! It was one of those moments that help you remember how joyous life can be despite the effort of all the journalists out there to make you think we are doomed… 🙂

  15. sabine says:

    I love your post. Love it. The photos, the words – all wonderful, funny, to the point, and informative.Of all the beautiful photos, ones of the lamb chops are just perfect.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Lamb is probably my favorite meat… Thanks for the lovely comment dear Sabine!

  16. judilyn says:

    Wonderful prose, and, as usual, spectacular people pictures! You make everyone look ecstatically happy to be alive! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


    1. My French Heaven says:

      When chocolate is involved, we’re all happy to be alive 😉 Thanks Judie!

  17. So it appears that French Christian families have perfected guilt as well as American Jewish families. I am trying to break the tradition, myself, but my mother’s voice hollers in my head until I tell her to quiet down. LOL Glad you had a joyous celebration.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Ha ha! Yes, both the Jewish people and the Catholics are masters at the guilt thing. I think it may actually be a good thing in the end 🙂

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