New Year’s Eve is a big night in France when you wish the world ‘Bonne Année’ – it’s much more boisterous and roisterous than Christmas. New Year’s Eve dinners start early and finish late, long after the clock has struck midnight to call time on the past 12 months and usher in 2019.
It’s the most important ‘fête’ or ‘feast’ of the year. Which brings about a bit of grammatical insight – wherever you see a ‘circumflex’ (little hat) over an ê or ô it means the letter ‘s’ has been removed. Hence feste or feast becomes fête and hostel becomes hôtel.
But we digress. This being France the feast, called ‘Le Reveillon’, is exceptional. There will always be oysters and around New Year the French markets will be full of wicker baskets of douze douzaine (so 144) oysters – a singularly English number in a metric world. Make sure you bring your buddies and share!
There will normally be langoustine or, better still, homard (lobster). There may well be foie gras and certainly in Burgundy snails stuffed with garlic butter.
There will certainly be champagne to start, then vin blanc with the seafood, then vin rouge to go with the confit of duck or beef or sanglier (wild boar). As you would only expect the cheese to finish the meal is a masterpiece. In Burgundy ‘Marc’ would be the preferred digestif.
You’ll also encounter several New Year French foibles. Most tables are dressed with small cardboard tubes and rolled up balls of tissue paper which you fire across the room at your dinner companions like a pea-shooter. What’s French for bizarre? You may well ask!
Sadly, with Papillion and Nymphea nicely settled into their winter moorings, we never get to prepare or share a Reveillon dinner – although Chef Jo may well draw the line at having to work on what really should be a night off. Anyway, tomorrow our thoughts turn to 2019 and a whole new cruising season. We hope to see you on the canals – but for now ‘Bonne Année’ and a very happy New Year to you and yours.