01 January 2010

Bonne année, et surtout bonne santé

Now I can say it — Happy New Year. And above all, good health.

That's what people say to me in Saint-Aignan. And they never say it before January 1. Somehow, saying Happy New Year before the new year has arrived is seen as jumping the gun. It's what you would call a superstition, I guess.

Yesterday New Year's Eve food: fresh oysters from
Marenne d'Oléron down on the Atlantic coast

We've been busy getting ready for our New Year's Day meal, which is a cassoulet. That's a southwestern France dish of white beans with duck or goose, pork sausages, and sometimes lamb and fresh pork too. My version this year is duck legs, Toulouse sausages, and big white lima beans.

Giant white lima beans for today's cassoulet

Since we don't have the standard French New Year's Eve dinner, which often lasts into the wee hours, we can deal with a meal as heavy as beans, poultry, and pork on New Year's Day. But I think we are out of the mainstream. Many people around France are spending the day recovering after last night's feast and festivities.

For apéritif snacking before dinner today, pitted prunes wrapped
in smoked meats — thin-sliced duck breast above, bacon below

Of course, what is the mainstream in France? People here have told me, often emphatically, that France is a country of individuals, not groups. Be yourself. Don't follow the crowd. Don't stand in line but rush the door. Dress the way you want. Don't be afraid to be different. Chacun pour soi !

Here's that thin-sliced smoked duck breast. This is what
I mean about living out in the country but
having all the conveniences.

Uh-oh. I got carried away. Whatever. There's an element of truth in that insistence on individualism. That's why I'm here. Plus the food. And the quiet rural life in a place with all the conveniences of modern times.

I hope that you are happy where you are and that you will have a happy and healthy 2010.


  1. Luckily we had oysters too from Maine flown into E Fl market!!!
    good but not as good as those we had from the stands up in Normandy-Brittany 4 yrs ago!! a nice Sancerre went very well also!

    would love to try your smoked duck breast also and cassoulet is another must have for us occasionaly

    Unfortunately after this weekend, we start the South Beach diet again to hopefully shed 30 lbs before our May trip to France.

    we wish you a great 2010

  2. Happy twenty ten to you and Walt. It's cold here today, but nary a snowflake yet.

    Diets are starting here next week also. Ugh.

  3. rain, mist & for here in VA so a dreary start to the new decade but leftovers galore & a fresh pot of new orleans red beans for plus tard....that smoked duck sounds excellent....cheers

  4. Ken , Walt et Callie

    mes meilleurs voeux pour une bonne et heureuse année 2010, pleine de santé, bonheur et prospérité ,accompagnée de quelques bonnes bouteilles et petits plats

  5. Happy New Year from Sidney (Illinois). We are freezing here today (5 degrees with -2 windchill), but it is sunny and beautiful inthe woods. The deer are hanging around and we have two 10 point bucks visiting!

    Life is good.

  6. Dale, Happy New Year to you. I think you are going to have a nice trip to France in 2010.

    Evelyn, it's so cold here, but no snow... not yet, anyway.

    Melinda, a very happy new year to you and yours. May 2010 be a great year.

    The Beaver, bonne année, bonheur et bonne santé en 2010. Merci de laisser tant de commentaires intéressants.

    Harriett, do those deer come right up to your house. I bet they are magnificent. Actually, this morning out in the vineyard, I almost got run down by a deer. I heard it galloping before I even saw it. Then Callie took off lik a shot after it. She didn't catch it though. Happy New Year to you and Tom.

  7. Where are you? Missing your posts

  8. My blog goes on at Living the life in Saint-Aignan as it has for more than 4 years now.


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