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No. 94: Le Réveillon

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All day yesterday (Christmas Eve), the friendly Martiniquais were wishing each other (and us) un bon Réveillon. Le Réveillon is the huge feast traditionally following la Messe de Minuit.

Although not many of my French friends attend midnight mass, they certainly wouldn’t miss out on le Réveillon. The meal can run into the wee hours of the morning, and usually includes a pause for the older children (the little ones are already tucked in bed) to open their presents from Père Noël.

In Paris le Réveillon is not for the faint of heart (or for the vegetarian in your life). No self-respecting Réveillon would be complete without foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon, a chestnut stuffed capon, turkey, or goose, and possibly some assortment of wild game.

For some families this late evening meal is the gastronomic highlight of the entire year.

This year we stuck to our family tradition of fondue, followed by snuggling together to watch a Christmas movie (usually A Christmas Story, but this year It’s a Wonderful Life), while happily ensconced in our petite maison en Martinique.

While each region in mainland France has its own slight variation on the traditional Christmas menu (in Provence, apparently it includes 13 dessert!), the Réveillon en Martinique is made up of an entirely different menu.

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I’m lucky enough to know this because our landlords here (or our Martiniquais grandparents) were kind enough to recreate le Réveillon for Christmas lunch today. After four appetizers and five main course dishes, we all had the top button of our pants undone. The highlights of the feast included accras (fried fish and vegetable dumplings), petits patés Créole (bite sized savory meat pies, filled with langoustine, shrimp or pork), smoked caramelized ham, cooked yellow-fleshed bananas with tender pork ragu, and of course, Punch coco.

On my I-don’t-think-I’ll-eat-that-again list: Boudin noir —a fat sausage of spicy pig’s blood.

Donc, a Christmas very well spent. I am so grateful for our new friends, this wonderfully diverse country and all the marvelous encounters we have had along the way.

Joyeux Noël à toutes et à tous une bonne nuit.

Vocabulaire

Joyeux Noël à toutes et à tous une bonne nuit. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

la Messe de Minuit: midnight mass

le Reveillon: Christmas/New Year’s Eve feast, literally, eve, from the verb réveiller, to wake up, awaken, or revive.

petite maison en Martinique: small house in Martinique

 

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sarah Larson #

    Le Reveillon meal looks delicious…you are experiencing such a wonderful slice of culture there…tres charmant!

    December 26, 2013
    • Hi Sarah,
      It has been a wonderful experience. Thanks for continuing to read about our adventures and my love of France. Wishing you and your lovely family a très joyeux Noël. xo

      December 26, 2013
  2. I know how you feel about Boudin noir….but the blanc can be nice, try it with sauteed apples for a new year’s celebration!

    December 26, 2013
    • Really? I’ll try to get up the nerve to try the blanc version. I had to politely eat more Boudin noir yesterday. Maybe the taste will grow on me if I just don’t think about what it is.

      December 27, 2013
  3. I find boudin créole (boudin noir) tastier than the one we have in france, all spicy. Doesn’t boudin exist in America ?

    December 28, 2013
    • I have had boudin noir in central France and once in Paris. You are right, the island spices do make it more palatable. If I don’t think about what it is, I’m okay with it, but once my brain kicks in, I have to wash it down quickly with water (or rum punch).

      My dad’s family was from Germany and he grew up in Wisconsin, and I do remember him eating blutwurst (literally blood sausage) which I think is nearly the same. I also tried blutwurst when I lived in Germany as a student.

      At least in my part of the US (Colorado-the West) boudin would be very difficult to find.

      However, if you prefer Rocky Mountain Oysters (bull calf, pig or sheep testicles deep-fried) you can definitely get those in my American neck of the woods. I have never tried them and don’t have any plans to in the future.

      December 30, 2013

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