cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas In Paris

3 bottles and the Bublé, with a bit of church hoppingMy first Christmas alone was not as terrifying as I had imagined it to be, for without familiarity and any real purpose, what resulted was not a Christmas at all, but rather just an evening of food, drink, and fun passed in the company of a friend. The foyer residence I live in decided quite belatedly to inform its inhabitants of their one week eviction for the holiday period, as such i was faced with the dilemma of homeless wandering with a budget, forced (and gravely lucky and indebted) to depend on the good graces of others. Laden with all possessions meriting any value (qualitative or quantitative) I began my homeless hopping at another foyer. After a rainy day of street strolling and a solo-night at the movies (Golden Compass is quite good actually) to not burden my hostess with my presence, I returned to a patch of linoleum floor around one in the morning. Nights two and three welcomed me into the warm charming apartment of an American friend, where our Christmas Eve Réveillon was passed in quite a jolly--and festive--manner.

I arrived at T's bearing the classic French Receillon: the Bûche de Noël, and wine. The Bûche de Noël, an edible Yule Log cake, is a traditional holiday dessert found in nearly every French speaking country (including Quebec, yes I did say country, what of it). The cake is generally a Genoise sponge cake baked flat and rolled tight with a form of jelly or frosting. My culinary student amigo a Paris, G-mo (G has already been taken) informed me of details of its exact preparation, and was helpful in scrutinizing the many, and aided in finding the perfect Bûche under 50euros. My bûche: coffee flavored butter cream with a chocolate Italian gel ribboning through the bark lines, adorned, comme d'habitude, with small figurines depicting father Christmas and Tannenbaums and you classic plastic saw. T enjoyed it immensely--well, I will tell you the frosting was good.

Accompanying our Buche was three bottles of wine, a bit of foi gras, dried fruits, apples, biscuits, and an entire jar of pickles singlehandedly consumed by yours truly (images of my family and their beloved pickle plate were circling through my tet) All the while accompanied by the immortal brilliance that is Michael Bublé's Christmas album, and the France 2 presentation of dubbed Polar Express, the evening was all cheers and tears. No tears, per say, no. But for we the two, that small consciousness of being without a loved one on Christmas was present. Christmas is Christmas if only for its passing accompanied by someone you love, pardon to those of the holidays religious persuasion, but as non religious myself, and T's faith to Judaism, our Christmas was two friends together for a winter evening celebration.

On Christmas the day of, we partook in a church quest for discovering those hidden gems of Paris off the beaten tourist track of Notre Dame, and what better day for Church hopping than Christmas when all would be open and warm as the remainder of the city lay closed and gray. Our our journey didnt take us far--not outside of the 4th and 1st, as one need not go far in Paris to find an ancient Eglise, for they are numerous and found in back alleys and corners in abundance. Our first was lay down the road, T's apartment is located on St. Denis, at the M Chatalet, the exact arterial heart of the city and metro system. Les églises: Saint Méry in the 1st, St. Gervais-St. Protais in the 4th, St. Paul-St. Louis in the 4th , and the Eglise St. Germaine L'Auxerrois, also in the 4th. The abundance of Saints is a dead give away, if I may say, of a constant reminder that one is fully plunked in the heart of Catholic land. Though I may not be of the Catholic faith, my dear Jesuits at Gonzaga would be proud to know of my recognition of two of the churches as Jesuit by symbolism and decor. Score one for Mallory.

Of the many holy houses visited, St. Paul- St. Louis, was sought out particularly for its secret of a relatively unknown Delacroix affixed to the wall and strolled under and by without even the slightest of glances at its being the offspring of a great French master. Well, you have been spotted. An amusing conversation with a Church curator enlightened us on the other paintings of the very Renaissance Jesuit church, another heart warming moment of in which my accent is not questioned, and my ability with the French language is not laughed at. The days spent out there are the lessons, not those inside the classrooms.

Paris rained chilly droplets on her Christmas day, signaling to her residents her desire for their retirement to drawing and living rooms to lazily pass the afternoons and evenings in lazy and beloved company of friends, family, books, television sets, and if you know and care about me at all--multiple tea pots. Forget not the viewing of my beloved film, Love Actually, which I sadly admit has passed my eyes 4 times in this past week. Christmas in Paris has passed, and I have survived, if anything, to appreciate those Christmases passed and to be passed with family. What is next on the nomadic wandering week--well a train to Lille of course.

A bientôt

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