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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Now we just need some snow and the month of December to actually start!

sunny 9 °C

Well, the Christmas season is officially in full swing here! At the beginning of November, they started setting up the Christmas market in the biggest square downtown, the Place de la Révolution. It opened this week, so of course ¬Nicolle and I had to go check it out. On Friday, we went downtown at about 6pm, which is already well past sunset (it feels like it starts getting dark around 4:30 right now, which is super bizarre on the days that I get out of class at 6:00…). The entire downtown area was lit up, with lights on trees and hanging decorations in all of the streets. I hadn’t really noticed it during the day, but each street has a different design traversing the buildings at intervals. Also, last weekend, someone went through and painted most of the shop windows with cute little winter scenes. Seriously, all that is missing is a good snow, and the centre-ville will become a place of wintery/Christmasy magic!


And the market was awesome – some booths are dedicated to generic wintery things, like hats, scarves, and sweaters. Others have decorations – tree ornaments, wreaths, etc. There are a lot of gift-oriented booths, too, with jewelry, expensive jellies, champagnes, an entire booth dedicated to foie gras in a variety of shapes, sizes, and seasonings, etc. At the back are more “concession”-style booths making paninis, sandwiches, crêpes, vats of poêlée (literally “frying pan of…” but in this case it is a very Franc-Comtois mixture of potatoes, onions, sausage, cheese, and probably some other yummy stuff all continually sautéed together in a giant “frying pan” that really looks more like a shallow horse trough, apple cider (here it has alcohol…I’m intrigued!), churros (that made me laugh), poirée (apparently a cousin of apple cider made with pears – definitely gonna have to try that, too!). But what caught our attention was the giant stand selling vin chaud (hot wine) which we had heard is a fall thing here, not unlike our cider/eggnog obsession in the US. So, of course, we both got some – Nicolle, the white “with spices”, and I the red, spiced with cinnamon. It smelled great, but was wicked hot, so we danced around blowing into our cups for a few minutes, watching all of the kids running around and being adorable (they moved a big carousel from one of the other squares into the market, as well as having some other kid-oriented booths and a man dressed up as Père Noël). Finally, it was cool enough to take a sip, and it tasted vaguely of the acid that clings in your throat after puking. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed. Nicolle had a similarly negative reaction, so we exchanged sips. I’m almost sure that the white wine actually was puke-acid. It was ten times worse! But mine became delicious by comparison, so I was able to finish it with no problem…I was also helped by a shrieking child who ran into me, causing some to splash out on the street…

After the market, we headed to the other end of the centre-ville (our real motivation for going downtown was to go to a crêpe restaurant – something that had managed to escape us both over the first three months here – aside from the surprisingly delicious church basement crêpes of September, however tainted with awkward it was. See Post #9 – « Food, Churches, and Food in Churches! »). On our way, we passed by the School of Letters right as Claudia was leaving. So we sucked her in, too! The restaurant “La Boîte à Crêpes” was a cute little place that only served crêpes, but had an immense selection. I think we took about fifteen minutes to decide. I decided on the “ratatouille”, which came with cheese, bits of ratatouille (roasted veggies in a tomatoey sauce), and a fried egg on top.


For dessert – of course we ordered dessert – I got a crêpe filled with Nutella and topped with coconut shavings and a scoop of coconut ice cream. Both were wonderful!


This last week was also “Beaujolais Nouveau Day”, an interesting phenomenon that I still don’t think that I quite understand fully. Apparently, Beaujolais nouveau is a very young wine that is only fermented for a few weeks, and it is only produced once a year and all released onto the market on the same day – the third Thursday of November. So the CLA held a tasting, with the wine, some cheese, and bread. A little bizarre to go up to the cafeteria in between classes to grab a glass of wine, but I’m not going to complain! It was actually probably one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted, with a very deep fruity flavor.

My weekend was made when I received a package slip in my mailbox late on Friday afternoon. I hurried to grab a bus to the post office before they closed for the weekend, and spent the ride back to campus daydreaming about what could be in this hefty box from Sioux City, Iowa (from my grandparents). I soon discovered that it contained, along with a note saying “Here’s your Thanksgiving turkey!”, a box of Twin Bings. For those of you for whom this means nothing, Sioux City is the home of a company called Palmer Candy who, in the 1920s, invented a candy bar that is made of two balls of cherry nougat covered in a mixture of broken-up peanut pieces and chocolate.


You either love them or hate them – there really is no middle ground. I have given a few of them out to friends (partly just to see their reactions) and the general consensus is “Oh wow, the outside is delicious!” (I think that the peanut-chocolate combination is a relatively American phenomenon.) But then it quickly turns into “What the hell is this fluorescent pink stuff?! How can you call this ‘cherry’, and why would you ruin the good thing that you had going with the exterior?” More for me, I guess! (Thanks again, Muti and Pa!)

In school news, I have all of a sudden left super-chill, hardly-any-homework land. This weekend, I wrote my first legit, five-page paper in French! It definitely sucked up my whole weekend, but it feels like a pretty significant accomplishment (only slightly hampered by the fact that I know it is going to get torn apart by my professor for grammatical errors…)

Also, the other night I watched a movie called OSS 117, a spy-spoof starring Jean Dujardin (the star of The Artist and a pretty popular actor in France). It was absolutely hilarious, and I highly recommend it!

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everybody!!!

Posted by NKammerer 12:50 Archived in France Tagged thanksgiving crêpes papers marché_de_noel vin_chaud christmas_decorations beaujolais twin_bings oss_117

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I recently had to go to the mall and was also bombarded by Christmas. However, I must say, the Christmas market looks like a much more pleasant way to celebrate Christmas in November. Your crêpes make me want to make (and eat) some, though I feel if I had the time to whip up a batch of crêpes, I might as well try my hand a one of the recipes you've sent. At this rate, maybe I should just wait until the summer and we can have a French baking adventure together! I was going to use my winter break to try some of the recipes, but that time seems to be going elsewhere :D (It's less than a month away!!!!) I also have to agree with your friends on the Bing front :) <3

by Vinnie

I've noticed many of your food pictures are half eaten to show the inside, yet the Bing is sliced in half. Is that because once someone starts, you can't wrest the Bing away for the picture?
Love you!

by Dad

As usual, your comments were so vivid that I could taste what you were describing - not good when it's hot wine puke!

It's interesting that it's not only America that starts decorating for Christmas really early. The village looked wonderful.

Enjoy your potluck tomorrow!


by Judy Trout

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