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A French Christmas Eve Dinner

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Hello there and Merry, Merry Christmas!

I bet you must be lounging on the couch now giving your bulging belly a good rub. Well done, darling. I have certainly done more than one’s fair share of that in the past few days, all the feasting and merrymaking, it’s Christmas spirit we are talking about!

I have a bucketload of photos and stories that I can’t wait to share on AlexandraLuella. Q and I have been busy running errands for the family, hence the lack of ChristmasDiary updates,  and I do apologise for that.  Buy some lemon, fetch some bread, pick up the oyster etc etc…. we were scampering up and down the streets like Christmas elves. 

The illuminations in Beziers aren’t as extravagant as the ones in London but I love that there are many speakers fixed around the narrow, cobblestone streets in the city centre and Christmas songs are played throughout the day. It’s those very cliché feeling that one feels like one’s in a movie – walking down the streets with Christmas lights hanging over my head, passing by brightly lit shop windows and music in the background. I mean, how amazing is that!

But there’s a need to clarify that there isn’t a day during the Christmas holidays that I don’t feel amazing, so what the music did was really double up the joy. 

Instead of blogging chronologically, I’ll jump straight to Christmas’ Eve dinner today. And we can always trace the days of the calendar in reverse after that. 

I think it’s not entirely credible to label the dinner as a “traditional French Christmas dinner” because a Yuletide meal in the Languedoc-Roussillon region is a mishmash of traditions from different areas in France and Catalonia. The sumptuous fare usually begins with apéritifs, oysters, foie gras, followed by a choice of poultry or fish as main, then finish with bûche de Noël (Yule log cake) and the treize desserts, which can be directly translated as the “13 desserts”, consisting of sweets, dried fruits and nuts, to represent Jesus and the 12 apostles. Champagne and wine, of course, flow through the courses.

Instead of having the table laden with all of these fine food in one evening, we decided to “space” them apart and had the foie gras, seared with caramelised apple, in the afternoon.  

So our Christmas Eve dinner started with oyster and some home-made mini sausage roll, followed by rock lobster.

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Absolutely cannot get over the taste of these lobsters. I mean, look at this!

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So full and fresh and fleshy and … oh I don’t know. It was just sublime. 

If you notice the figurine by the side of my glass, it’s a hand-painted terracotta santon produced locally in Beziers. It’s a folk tradition originated from Marseille after the French Revolution in the 18th century, when churches were closed down, religious worships were suppressed and nativity scenes were prohibited.

In an attempt to keep their traditions and religion alive, people set up domestic cribs in their private homes. In addition to the Holy Family, the Three Kings and the shepherds, the  Provençal landscape also includes the peasants and ordinary characters in a village life. 

Each of us was given santon with a modern twist, bearing resemblance of who we are and what we do. Mine is a girl in ponytail, with a book and a camera; Q’s a globe-trotting businessman.

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For dessert, we had the bûche, madeleine, marzipan and truffle. Everything from the home kitchen and yours truly baked the big batch of madeleine! *inserts a row of smug emoticon*

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In French, santa claus is called “Père Noël“, sometimes “Papa Noël“, which means father of Christmas. And like in every other countries, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without presents.

So here’s a peak of the big pile of jumbled up gifts, from everyone to everyone, around the fireplace. 

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No, we are not playing the spot-the-willy game here so please focus your attention on what you should be focusing. 

Before I finish, there’s one thing to rectify here:

I realise that many of my non-Christian friends in Malaysia have this wrong idea that Christmas connotes a time to party. I think this is a very commercialised and thwarted concept caused by businesses in the region. For instance, in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore, there will be nightclubs and event organisers cooking and serving up more than one’s fair share of soaker pie, fittingly named “Zouk Frozen”, “BBQ Christmas Chillout”, “Winter Wonderland Themed Party” and the likes. Don’t get me wrong, I opined no dislike to these very clever promotions because, after all, there are a lot of non-Christians who see Christmas as a great time off work slash closure to the year. So it’s absolutely fine. What I find problematic is that people actually think that Christmas is a time to party, or rather, confused Christmas with New Year’s Eve. Hence, I feel compelled to clear up the muddle water here, that Christmas is a sacred day the Christians spend in church as well as with their families. Not the tabletop of a pulsating nightclub.

Alrighty, till here I shall write today. I hope you find this post enlightening, and wherever you are, celebrating or not, I sincerely wish you all the love and happiness in this special holiday. 

Merry Merry Christmas 🙂

With love x

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