Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I had never missed Christmas at home. But I was 4,145 miles away in Paris. So instead I took the train to Thionville, a commune in northeastern France, where I would spend Noël with Jessica and her family.
Although I was not one of Jessica’s closest friends, her family welcomed me like one. To Strasbourg to visit the holiday markets and to try flammenküche! To Nancy to sightsee and sample macarons! Back home to warm up with raclette! By the night of December 25, I had Jessica to thank for a crash-course in local cuisine and culture. It was finally time for Christmas dinner, which Jessica said would start late and last until the wee hours of the morning. Père Noël might even stop by before the night’s end.
The servings were small but rich. In between the brioche stuffed with foie gras and compote and the oysters, there were frequent breaks to rest, to drink, to smoke and to laugh. We drank the wine I brought as a gift, and I explained how I had picked out the bottle by copying some French wine connoisseurs at the supermarket. My French storytelling wasn’t perfect, but no one acted like they noticed.
When the final desserts hit the table, I was happy and full. As I sleepily enjoyed my slice of bûche de Noël, I felt just like one of the family. In a foreign country and far from home, this feeling was nothing short of extraordinaire.
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.