by Paige Donner
The feast is in the first bite. I came across this phrase recently listening to a science program on the radio about how human taste buds function.
It was scientifically explained that in fact with each subsequent bite of food, there is a diminishing sensory enjoyment insofar as the taste explosion in your mouth. So in this season of joyful excess, we can reassure ourselves that the feast is indeed in the first bite.
- Nina Métayer, Executive Pastry Chef, Café Pouchkine: Start Time – 7′ 30 seconds
- Chef Ludo Lefebvre of Trois Mec, Los Angeles: Start Time – 25′ 49 seconds
As I sit here at my desk in my office in the Marais recording this, I realize that this 2018 holiday season here in Paris will go down in history as the Yellow Christmas.
This month of Saturday protests of the GiletsJaunes, the Yellow Vests, here in Paris have marked the season with closed shops and whole shopping districts such as the Champs Elysées, Saint Germain des Prés, and even here, in the normally bustling Marais, shuttering their doors and boarding their windows.
Even as I write this, a parade of protesters are marching in the street just below my window.
But perhaps the timing is truly right on message, because when many of us can celebrate a time of plenty and abundance, with joyful family members, lots of good things to eat and drink, and happy times all around, it’s important to remember that for an ever-growing segment of the French population, indeed the world’s population, this is not necessarily the case. Not during the holidays, and not during the rest of the year.
This is what we have come to call the Working Poor. People who don’t sit idly by or accept handouts but in fact put in full work weeks and still cannot make ends meet for themselves or their children or their elderly dependents.
This holiday show, then, is dedicated to all those mothers and fathers and adult children of elderly parents whose desperation has brought them to the streets of Paris these past weekends to demonstrate and protest in what can only be called a desperate cry for help.
As we raise our glasses and forks in good cheer this year, let’s generously remember all those who may be less fortunate than ourselves.
Another theme of this show is traditions.
As an avid listener of US Public Radio, I heard interview excerpts and snippets following the Thanksgiving holiday of people in the US who eschew the traditional holiday meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and what we call “the works.”
And while there is no obligation to respect the traditions of your own country or your adoptive country, I do feel that there is great value in upholding traditions and that this can offer a kind of anchor to our ever-increasingly fragmented society.
Culinary traditions are a big part of culture. They play an important role in cultural identity. That’s something I’ve learned quite well here in France.
To this effect, I interviewed one of France’s top young pastry chefs for this show. Here in France, the Christmas Cake, le bûche de Nöel, plays a central role in the traditional holiday Christmas meal.
One of the themes for Chef Nina’s 2018 bûche de Nöel:
* MORE PHOTOS OF Nina Métayer’s Christmas Cakes on Instagram @PaigeFoodWine *
As such, the country’s talented pastry chefs put great thought, creativity and love into their cake designs, often planning them a year in advance, as we hear Nina Métayer, of Café Pouchkine, explain to us. She’s been singled out as one of the Top Under 30 culinary stars to watch by the French media. She is the Executive Pastry Chef of Café Pouchkine, which is owned by a Franco-Russian family.
The next talent we hear from for this Christmas and holidays 2018 show, is a Los Angeles based French chef; Ludo Lefebvre. He tells us how his childhood memories of the Family Christmas meal here in France are even more vivid than his memories of what toys Santa brought him. His main talking point is that very French sense of the Art de Vivre.
He emphasizes that enjoying a holiday meal is mostly about spending time with friends and family, where any sense of hurry or watching the clock is thrown out the window in favor of spending quality time with one another.
He has shot to fame with his fabulously successful Trois Mec restaurant and also his cooking shows Ludo Bites America and now Ludo à la Maison. As you’ll hear in this telephone interview, Chef Ludo hails from Burgundy and has strong and fond memories of the traditional family Christmas meals he enjoyed as a child.
One more interesting tidbit to pass on for this holiday season, is that for the first time ever, Americans are spending more on eating out than on their groceries. So, to this effect, in the show notes, you’ll find links to Holiday Meal Kits that can be delivered both here in Paris and also in the US. Note that in keeping with American traditions, the link for that meal kit includes a honeybaked ham, and the link to the Paris meal kits includes delivery of fresh oysters by Maison Rostang.
Wishing all of you, listeners and friends and family, a peaceful, joyous holiday season, full of love and good cheer. May food be the fabric of our harmonious coming together and the commonality that binds us as human beings, each one of us a child of God.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Joyous Blessings this Holiday Season
Café Pouchkine Paris & Pastry Chef Nina Métayer, Executive Pastry Chef
Chef Ludo Lefebvre
Holiday Meal Kits Delivered
USA – Cracker Barrel https://crackerbarrel.com/order-online/holiday-meal
Paris – Maison Rostang Oyster Kit recommended by Marie Claire https://www.marieclaire.fr/reveillon-services-livraison-domicile,1246215.asp
Americans Spending More On Eating Out Than Groceries
AND truth be told French chansons (#music) are some of my favorites. Here is some French holiday listening pleasure: https://www.talkinfrench.com/christmas-songs-free/
And Garou: Joyeux Noel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVe-znmgL7Q
Music by Jingle Punks thanks to Youtube Audio Library, Free of Rights.
Deck The Halls
We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Paris GOODfood+wine intro and outro music by BenSound, Groovy Jazz.
Production and Sound Editing by Paige Donner
Merci Beaucoup to all who helped make this show possible!
Wishing you and all of Earth’s Children Peace, Love & Joy this season and for 2019
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