Thursday, December 24, 2020

France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-four, the thirteen Christmas desserts of Provence

French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-four the 13 Christmas desserts of Provence
Advent day 24 a Blanc de Blancs dry white and a biere de Noel

Advent day twenty-four, Thursday 24th December 2020

The last doors on our advent calendars have been opened and my Blanc de Blancs dry fizzy white and Adrian’s Biere de Noel are chilling in the fridge, and the calendars themselves are out in the cardboard recycling. 


They have certainly been good fun, although I do feel a bit of a lightweight as I have a third of my bottles still to drink. This does mean though that there will be a nice bottle of something fizzy to toast us at breakfast tomorrow, as well as a bottle each for our Christmas Day picnic, not forgetting some in the fridge for the evening. I got a lot more variety from my wine selections than Adrian did with his beers, but, with the exception of his biere blanche, which had no aroma and tasted of dishwater, I think all of his other beers had much more flavour and nose than most of the wines. While there was nothing wrong with any of the wines, there was nothing exceptional about them either, but I will miss the excitement of opening the calendar each morning.


There has been an overriding theme to the handwritten messages in the Christmas cards we have received this year, with “what a year!”, “let’s put 2020 behind us” and “here’s to a better year next year” being just some of them. While 2020 has been a year of highs and lows for us, losing our 22 year old nephew, six months with no work or possibility of furlough for Adrian, and not being able to travel to visit family in the UK, certainly being pretty low points, there has also been a lot to be thankful for. 


French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-four the 13 Christmas desserts of Provence
A 2020 family portrait

These two (nutters) make me smile, laugh and fill my heart with joy every day. For three pretty independent adults, who pre-Covid-19 were used to our own space and an often-solitary existence, I think we have coped pretty well being locked down together for most of the year and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 


We have had more quality family time than we’ve ever had and enjoyed some fantastic experiences as we seized every opportunity to get out and live. This time last year we had no plans to visit Nice and the Cote d'Azur, which we did in June (thanks to Lou Messugo), for the first time in ten years, and then we topped the holiday with an awesome cycle up Mont Ventoux. In August we spent a week in the Pyrenees, our days filled with more epic cycling, good food and stunning scenery. We also managed to squeeze in one last adventure to lose ourselves in the golds and autumn colours of the Lot and Cahors vineyards, just before lockdown came back in October. Cycling makes me feel alive as it gives me the chance to push my legs and lungs to the max, whatever the weather, or location.


I am approaching year end in a happy and relaxed place and will treasure these memories made in 2020 forever. All would be well with my world if it wasn’t for the end of the UK’s transition period, prior to leaving the European Union, looming. Who knows what 2021 will bring? It may or may not have the total shock of the world shutting down due to a pandemic, but it will have very real challenges for many millions of innocent victims of a disastrous political decision. 


France Trivia advent calendar, day twenty-four, the thirteen Christmas desserts of Provence

This evening families in France will be celebrating Christmas and as we have no lockdown, curfew is suspended for the evening, and so long as we are sensible and keep to a maximum of six adults per gathering, there are no rules to obey. There are many traditions associated with the Christmas Eve meal, but if you are lucky enough to be celebrating in Provence, you will have to ensure you leave room for all thirteen desserts they serve. Tradition says there must be thirteen sweets served, for Jesus and his twelve apostles, and each guest at the table must take a small bite of each one. Luckily they are not the hearty and stodgy type of desserts favoured by the Brits at Christmas, instead the French prefer a selection of walnuts, dried figs, dates, different types of nougat, raisins, oranges and mandarins, marzipan biscuits called callisons, an orange flavoured fougasse (olive oil flat bread) and candied fruits. It might make the mincepie and satsuma that I’ve planned for tomorrow seem a bit tame, but my mincepies do contain dried fruits, candied fruits and walnuts so we’ve almost ticked all the boxes.


Thank you for reading along with our lockdown daily diaries this year and I hope you have enjoyed the France Trivia advent posts. I wish you all a merry Christmas and hope you will be able to join your loved ones, either in person, or online. Stay safe. 

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