A French Christmas
Dec. 16, 2014 Pau, France: Christmas traditions in France include the Gallete des Rois and the Buche de Noël.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
For my family and me, one of the great things about living an expat life has been the combining of our own holiday traditions with those of our adopted country. Our first year in Pau in the Pyrenees-Atlantic department of Aquitaine, France, was spent with another expat family who, like us, had decided to stay in their new home country rather than race "back home" to meet up with family scattered all over the place.
So we celebrated Noël and Christmas. Noël is the French word for Christmas and comes from "les bonnes nouvelles," or "the good news," as in the good news of the coming of Christ. My friend and I divided the mainly food-related work between us. She got to search for a turkey, and I assembled all the sides, including cranberry sauce, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts—a must-have for any British Christmas Day lunch.
Raw cranberries and sprouts can be found in most French supermarkets these days, but parsnips? They're animal fodder, right? No, they are divine when roasted with a splash of orange juice and are almost, but not quite, impossible to find in France at Christmastime. I persuaded the owner of the local fresh produce store to snag me a kilo on a trip to Spain, where they are more common. While I struggled with the veg, my friend searched and searched for a decent turkey from a local farmer. At first, all she found were long-legged, athletic-looking numbers; not a succulent breast among them. Finally she got what she wanted, paid the farmer, and made a date for collection of the bird...plucked, merci beaucoup.