Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oysters and Foie Gras

Another Christmas in France, with another adopted family, this one the extended Bergeras clan in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Last year I was with the Chevrier family in the Maine-et-Loire, 350 miles to the north, but the menu was similar, as it is pretty much all across France for this meal: salty things to nibble on while drinking apéritifs, oysters, foie gras, a roasted bird, dessert, coffee, and plenty of wine throughout. Everyone seemed to enjoy the olives, and complemented the South-Bend-to-Southwest-France deviled quail eggs. I didn't go to the mass, which ran longer than expected, so we didn't get started until well after 9pm and it was getting close to midnight before we'd even finished the foie gras. The oysters were cool and fat and filled my mouth with their clean ocean flavor, and I thought of Mom and John swimming with the turtles and dolphins in Hawai'i. I spread my gluten-free toasted baguette slices with foie gras and fig jam and thought of Kate and Ben and Morgan and Leah, because three of the four of them would have enjoyed that dish, while the fourth would unfortunately have been reduced to eating the lettuce garnish on the plate. Sorry, Kate, but France isn't really the place for vegetarians at this point, especially at home. I only had a wing of one of the roasted guinea hens, but it was a large and meaty one, and I ate the well-cooked peas and carrots thinking of Ian, who would have added even more garlic to the pot, and of Corey, who might have been persuaded to go wild and join the only male grandchild present, a bottomless pit who I observed downing most of a sliced salami and at least a dozen oysters before tucking into the main courses. Missing my family, but grateful as always to the people who open their homes and their celebrations to include me. The cheese and salad came out around 1:30am, and I was strong and didn't touch the local sheep's-milk tomme, or the crumbly wedge of blue, or even (though I was sorely tempted) the two-inch-thick bûche de chèvre, alas. And then dessert, my maple-syrup-and-walnut tart, which was well received, and the sweet-potato pie which was not, but I was in total agreement with that because it didn't turn out very well. The sort of dessert where you say, "This tastes ... healthy." Which it is, other than the cookie/vegan butter crust, so the other half will be my breakfast for the next week, but I should have used less cinnamon and more sugar. A chocolate cake in the form of a Santa Claus gingerbread man, and coffee (or mint and verbena tisanes, which I chose - no way was I going to drink coffee at nearly 3am) and another bottle of champagne making the rounds, and then out into the warm darkness for the drive back to Agnos, and straight to bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning!

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