27 November 2009

Giving Thanks to French Holidays and Our Home

I officially started celebrating Thanksgiving in 2007 with the husband, our first year together in Paris. Of course to get us excited, we researched on its meaning, history and the proper meal preparation(hence started my husband's love for brining).

his 1st brining experience which resulted in everything to be brined!!

our first stuffed bird!

For obvious reasons the French don't celebrate the event, but my husband prefers this 'American' occasion over the super hyped, commercialized ones like Valentine's or Halloween--both neither practiced here as well--which he claims brainwash you to purchase the props which necessarily come with it. Hmmmm.

preparing our stuffing and sidings

 Exscuse me, husband, how do you think I got the ingredients for this meal? I honestly think he just enjoys what Thanksgiving brings forth: a yummy stuffed bird, sidings, dessert and wine! Burp!

                                                2007 Thankgiving meal

Although speaking of feasts and celebrations, don't get me wrong, the French have their share of holidays: national/civic and religious/Christian ones, too. Total of 15 days of break! Even when the holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, the normal custom although not official, appropriately called le pont (bridge), is to include the Monday or Friday as days off!

On top of it, the Frenchies are entitled to 5 weeks of vacation mostly during the months of July and August. In some companies including reputable international organizations, there even exists a summer schedule, which I remember back then I found so bizarre with having to go through shortened office hours and a natural (and somehwhat accepted) laid-back sense of work mode. Shall I also mention the random strikes which are conducted by service unions of transport,railroad etc.. paralyzing the city with limited train rides, nil buses or cargo truck-blocked highways, and naturally minimizing work hours? Aah, la vie en France.
A little insert, during my short stint at the Embassy, not only did I observe French non-working holidays but my national ones, too. Yeehahaha.

Below is a list of French holidays for those thinking of planning trips here.  Please keep in mind the heavy circulation of highways, full trains and planes (including some closed restaurants and shops) during the following dates.

Public Holidays

1 January :   New Year's Day (Jour de l'an)
1 May :         Labor Day (Fête du premier mai)
8 May:         WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945)
14 July:        Bastille Day (Fête nationale)
15 August :   Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)
1 November:    All Saints Day (La Toussaint)
11 November :   Armistice Day (Jour d'armistice)
25 December:    Christmas Day (Noël)
26 December**:    2nd Day of Christmas

*Movable  Feasts             2009     2010    2011     2012      2013

Good Friday**                 10 April  2 April   22 April  6 April  29 March 
Easter (Pâques)              12 April  4 April   24 April  8  April   31 March  
Easter Monday               13 April   5 April  25 April  9  April    1 April       
Ascension (l'Ascencion) 21 May   13 May  2 June    17 May    9 May       
Pentecost(la Pentecôte)31 May  23 May 12 June   27 May    19 May       
Whit Monday                  1 June    24 May  13 June  28 May    20 May      
*Movable because these feasts are dependent on Easter dates which are determined by complex calculations. Check this link for more info.
**Celebrated in Alsace and Lorraine

           Thanksgiving 2009  best leading actor wins! our bio chicken produce(minimum of 81 days free range) was awarded a silver medal by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Fishing. This is dedicated to our recent viewing of Food Inc.

Now to revert to last night's Thanksgiving meal, I managed to prepare it all by myself like a good housewife (phew!) inlcuding hours worth of packing and moving of boxes out of our apartment.

my successful chorizo vegetable harvest stuffing. here's the recipe which I tweaked.

stuffed lemon, garlic chicken roast. merci  food network.

In the spirit of giving thanks, we toasted to a blessed 'harvest', the best of health to family and friends, bountiful love and a happy home.

 2009 Thanksgiving meal. pas mal (not bad!)

      I got lucky choosing a 2006 Cotes de Provence for only 6,60 

And special thanks to you, Villa Jean Godart, our  home of memorable firsts, enjoyable feasts and comforting escape from the cold city, you will be missed!

cheers to our humble abode 2007-2009

to our squeezed up meals in the kitchen: maximum of 4 adults

to visiting friends for apero-diner

to baked lemon pies and our seasonal flower kids

19 November 2009

My Friendly Boulangerie

I live right next to a bakery, as in directly adjacent, sharing-walls-kind of close. And as I type this, I am hearing dough-pounding noises starting as early as 6am, 5 days a week, but for some insane reason, I am totally unbothered. I find it amusingly....French. There could be people like my husband, extremely noise-sensitive (seems like most French are) who will file a complaint--he really did--but as for myself, I ask: where else could I wake up to the smell of butter or see from my window a long queue of morning customers itching for their sweet pastries or baguette for the day? Only in a place called France. I could be wrong but who cares, I am happy to have this bakery next to me, as my friendly, noisy neighbour.

18 November 2009

Apartment Hunting in Paris

Finding an apartment in Paris is a major pain. For over three months, my husband and I have been on the prowl, checking out rental classified websites like se loger, explorimmo and pap.fr which fortunately permit us to visit units sans charge (rejoice!) In other cases, as with one real estate agency we visited,  a downpayment of 400 euros was required just to have access to their roster of apartments and logically, you would assume some sort of guarantee as well, right? Ha, that would be wishful thinking.

Is this horrid apartment game of “search-find-wait-rejected” a harsh reality in France which we must learn to perfect or are we victimized newbies playing with the wrong strategy?

         at a recent visit across the street of UNESCO, former workplace

11 November 2009

A Bag of Trucs (not tricks)

In my last entry I encouraged and did my share of in-store hibernation from (pre)winter wonderland chills and as a result of doing so, here are some trucs (things) which caught my eye.

It wants to shake you up when your food is cooked! Hands down to the kitchen body-shaking timer.


06 November 2009

Freezing Frenzy in Paris

What do you look forward to in Paris at a time of sporadic showers, cold weather and gray skies? No, not depression, but I assure you there is a way to cope with Autumn/Winter chills and even enjoy it!