Now I can say « Bonne Année ! » to everyone because it's January 1. It's now twenty-twenty — and may that number inspire us all to develop a clearer view of what the world needs to do if it is to survive in these troubled times. I guess all times are troubled, and I'm glad to have lived long enough to see another new year dawn.
Last night, we were invited to a réveillon — a new year's eve dinner party — for the first time in many years. Our neighbors from Blois, the daughter and son-in-law of the people who used to come so often to their house in the country outside Saint-Aignan, invited us and a dozen of their family members and good friends. The conversation was lively and the food was both copious and delicious. It was all very informal as far as dress and protocols were concerned — relaxed, in other words.
After finger-foods (hors-d'œuvres) and a glass of local bubbly to put everybody at ease and in the holiday mood, the dinner started with oysters. Both raw oysters on the half shell and oysters baked in the oven just lightly, for those who prefer them that way, were served. The second course was foie gras de canard on toast with a sweet-tart onion jam as an accompaniment. Then we moved on to scallops — coquilles St-Jacques — some cooked well-done and some just barely heated up in the oven, to satisfy every taste preference.
There was so much good food, in fact, that I'm having a hard time remembering exactly what it all was and what was served in what order. I remember the vegetables were purees of both spinach and celeriac (céleri-rave). There was a cheese course, and then a dessert plate for each of us that included a scoop of ice cream along with several small sweets and cakes.
Dinner lasted from 7:30 to nearly midnight. All the courses were fairly small, with just enough of each special holiday dish to tickle the palate without overwhelming the stomach. Most of the guests we have met at one time or another, usually at outdoor summer parties thrown by the neighbors. Last night, wine of course flowed freely. We weren't driving — all Walt and I had to do was walk across the street to get back home. The other guests were all, I believe, spending the night over there. The house is not huge by any means, but the upper floor (the loft) is a kind of dormitory with about a dozen single beds guests on occasions like these.
Tasha was invited and was very well-behaved all evening. She didn't bark once, and she enjoyed the nibbles different people slipped to her under the table as we moved through all the courses — I'm sure she especially liked the foie gras and the cheeses. The neighbors, M-L and J-P, have a dog, and he was there too. The two canines get along well.
I didn't take my camera, so there are no pictures. That's to protect the innocent, of course. Again, Happy New Year to all. I cooked a pot of black-eyed peas overnight in the crock pot for our New Year's Day lunch. In my culture, that's supposed to bring us good luck for the whole year. Let's hope it works.