May in France is a month of statutory holidays. Today is another one, and I have frankly lost track if it is something to do with the Catholic calendar (Ascension or Pentecost maybe?) or one of the World Wars or some kind of “reward the workers” thing.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Like the rest of France I am going to take the day off and admire the gorgeous wisteria blooming everywhere instead of working.
Last week I asked what you thought could possibly be contained in this box:
And the huge majority of your answers were completely on the right track.
I was frankly a bit surprised – not because I underestimate your intelligence in the least – but because for me the word Nabuchodonosor always conjures up a bizarre image of a beret-wearing, wine-swilling French dinosaur.
The box did not contain a dinosaur though, as you clever readers figured out.
A Nabuchodonosor was first and foremost one of the Babylonian kings thoughtful enough to bring incense and myrrh and all that jazz to Baby Jesus in the manger (bingo, Karen).
However, for reasons unknown to me at present, the name was borrowed in French wine and champagne circles to denote a bottle that contains 15 Litres of these heavenly beverages.
This BIG bottle is going to be used for decoration in our Beaune wine cellar (more on that later this week)…
Let’s take a peek inside the box:
Ta-Dum! It’s like the Titanic of wine bottles, isn’t it?
It is more than half the height of Camille.
And a wee bit taller than Clem, who viewed it as competition (maybe a fourth child?) and tried her best to knock it over to smash against the stone veranda.
Luckily for us and the wine cellar she didn’t – that would have been a lot of glass shards to clean up before she started feasting on them.
L’apéro is a sacred moment here in France. It is that wonderful moment when you can sit down, kick back, and enjoy a lovely drink of something nice.
This was a evening ritual with Charlotte in Normandy. Franck, Charlotte, and I would feed the seven children, put the two littlest down to bed, get the others settled doing something and then ahhhhhhhhh
…it would be our time to gear down, chat, and get ourselves in the right mood for dinner.
What you drink during an apéritif can vary widely: anything from basic wine to champagne to kir to pastis. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic either – apple juice is just fine. In Normandy we did things the traditional way and sat down to a bottle of chilled Normandy cider and slices of local sauccison every evening before dinner.
The main thing is to take a moment to sit down and savour that particular moment in time. The French have always been good at this practice, but there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be too.
And on Monday I will answer yesterday’s Burgundy quiz!