I haven’t ever been to Paris, but I like to pretend I have. My love for Parisian-esque interiors—cream walls and over-the-top moulding, beaten-up furniture and ritzy antiques—is as strong as my fascination for French pastry, French cooking, and their way of eating. It is tradition to graze, not gorge: a plate of cheeses, light crackers, pastry, fruits and thin-cut meats is how to lunch. I haven’t ever tried wine, but the rest of the list I can assert to its ability to pleasure the palate.
The holidays are a prime time for grazing. My Nana and Papa loved nothing more than to eat, and I can remember the excitement of opening the front door to the dining table covered in fruit trays, and plastic tupperware containers lined with cookies and bars. Thankfully my mother has inherited that tradition, and a few days before Christmas meant a trip to town to stock-up on baking ingredients and candies. The table is covered in glassware filled with chocolates: chocolate-covered almonds and soft chocolates, caramel clusters and thin mints. My brother and I popped a few cups of white chocolate in a double-boiler, adding peppermint after melted, for white chocolate peppermint bark. My Nana’s carnival square recipe is always a favourite, so that was made next; Nana’s no-bake brownies after. Nuts and bolts, another Nana recipe, was roasting in the oven. For lunch I had a salmon fillet topped with lemon-pepper seasoning, and fine Oka cheese on crackers.
That afternoon mom finished her oatmeal cookies, and on Christmas Eve we tackled the bulk of the baking. Peanut butter cookies, Nana’s melting moments shortbread cookie recipe, and an apple pie. I made a chocolate peppermint cake, which I have high hopes for.
This morning, Christmas day, was met with restrained excitement. We slunk downstairs, I stole a shortbread cookie from the kitchen, and by the tree we went. My favorite gift was a copy of A Kitchen In France by Mimi Thorisson, and a pair of Nixon headphones in grey. Breakfast was grand, but so late I’d call it brunch.
I do believe our family would be more happy with food rather than gifts, and I don’t see any reason why that isn’t a fantastic idea. Tonight we will have our traditional Christmas day meal of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, steamed vegetables, dinner rolls and crescent rolls. To be honest, I’m just waiting for dessert.