Saturday, 11 January 2014

Et bonjour 2014!

I was so organised and efficient in the first couple of days of the year that I wrote the majority of this post in that time, leaving just a few finishing touches to do.  However, I then learned that a very good friend of mine, who lives in Australia, had been admitted to hospital with a mystery infection.  Within a day or so, he was in Intensive Care fighting for his life.  It didn't feel right for me to update this blog at that time so I left it.  Thankfully, the hospital was able to identify the cause of my friend's illness and I am happy to say, he has now recovered.  This then, is the post, as I wrote it over a week ago!

Well we had a fabulous start to the new year and I find myself feeling very positive as I write this. Danny and I have not made any resolutions but we want this to be a year in which we get ourselves organised! We spent a good half hour on New Year's Day discussing all the things we hope to achieve in the coming months. Weather permitting, we can now say that work on installing the pool will start next month! But we have other projects in our minds too. Oh nothing major but there is the utility room to plan and decorate and a potager (kitchen garden) to construct - if that's the right word! Danny wants to build a cover over the now open area where he chops wood and to incorporate a wood store for the cut logs. Then there's the chicken run, covered eating area.......gosh, it goes on and on!

But back to how we started the new year.  As expected, we had a quiet New Year's Eve just watching TV. Danny spoke to each of his sons and I spoke to my brother and some friends who don't have the Internet. Still nursing my cold, I only had a couple of glasses of wine but even that made my head hurt! Fortunately I felt fine the next morning.  We had been invited to friends for lunch on New Year's Day and we spent several hours over a fabulous meal. This culminated in a traditional French finale - Les Treize Desserts - thirteen desserts!

Originating from Provence, this is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve when the family return home from Mass, having eaten the rest of their meal prior to going to church. There is significance to the desserts with some being 'must haves' and others down to the family's choice and taste. To begin with, the number thirteen represents Jesus and the twelve apostles. As to the specific dishes, firstly, there are les quatre mendiants - the four beggars - representing the four mendicant monastic orders.  These are represented by raisins, walnuts or hazelnuts, dried figs and almonds.  Then there are dates, representing food of the region where Jesus lived and died. There would be two types of nougat, to represent good and evil; nougat blanc and nougat noir au miel, the latter made with honey. There will also be fresh fruit of the season.  Our host provided nuts and raisins, dates and nougat together with chocolate truffles, marzipan, clementines, palmiers (thin sweet biscuits) and brioche sucré aux fruits confits.  I understand it is traditional for guests to eat a piece of each of the desserts and I was happy to oblige!!

Obviously all this was 10 days ago now and in that time we have been doing the normal everyday things we do!  I will try to catch up with another post in a few days, but I was mindful of the fact that this 'started' post was sitting here und I wanted to finish and publish it.

À bientôt