Friday December 31, 2010 – early morning January 1, 2011
Le Jour de l’An/New Year’s Eve, Gleizé/Villefranche-sur-Saône, France
Happy New Year to all! I hope you all have a wonderful 2011, full of health, happiness, and whatever your hearts may desire. Thank you all for making my 2010 fabulous – let’s hope 2011 is the best yet. I am so glad I started this blog in 2010. I write to post pictures of my travel, to give my family and friends back home a little glimpse into my new life, but more importantly to remember. This New Year’s Eve was certainly one to remember.
I brought in 2011 with a réveillon.
DEFINITION. A réveillon in France is a long dinner party, held on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
ORIGIN. The name of such a dinner comes from the French word réveil meaning, waking.
SIGNIFICANCE OF NAME. Participation in a réveillon involves staying awake until midnight and beyond.
I spent New Year’s Eve with a colleague, his family, and 4 other wonderful French families in Villefranche-sur-Saône, a Lyon suburb about 20-30 km north of the city. Twelve adults, nine children. The children brought in the New Year with a Harry Potter movie marathon. As for the adults, well, it’s easier to go chronologically.
8 pm: Arrival. Mingled a bit, introductions, did some last minute food preparations.
9 pm: Sat down around the couches for the aperatifs and finger appetizers. We had salmon tartine over toasted bread, a salmon pate, homemade ham croissants, a beets and peach marmalade mini-salad, all served with the choice of spiked punch, white wine, or champagne.
10 pm: Moved to the dinner table to get serious and to start the real food, aka the “entree.” The French word “entree” actually means appetizer. The first entree were trays of oysters and smoked salmon with white wine and bread.
10:45 pm: The second entree was foie gras (two types, one with pistachio in the middle, one with peach marmalade and pistachios), also with a specially paired white wine and bread.
11:30 pm: The plat was served. Plat is the French word for our main course. We had ostrich filets with a gratin dauphinois (sliced potatoes and cream, baked), with red wine and bread. Ostrich tastes like beef and is a red meat just like beef.
12 am: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! After going around and doing the bises to everyone (especially obligatory at this time), the ladies burst out into an impromptu dance party inspired by some techno American beats.
12:30 am: Back to the table for the beginning of the dessert courses. First up is the traditional cheese platter with salad, bread, and white wine.
1:30 am: Time for the actual dessert- bûche glacée. Basically a French “Yule log” but made of ice cream instead of mousse or cake batter. We had two kinds of buche- a three chocolate buche and a raspberry buche. It was decadent.
2:15 am: Nougat and clementines.
3 am: Time to go home and sleep off all that we ate.
French culture is amazingly decadent when it comes to food. It really should not have come as a surprise to me that the holidays in French have luxuriously long dinners or lunches, but for some reason I was still startled when we finished our main dish around midnight. We stayed awake, we ate, we laughed, we drank. For 5.5 hours. What a way to bring in a new year.
Bonne Année à vous!