Monday, January 07, 2008

In The Midst of Winter...*

Even the south of France has its winter look.

What’s more, the new year blew in on a wind from the east that whipped through the Alps to slip into something cooool on its way here. As it slammed into town, howling through the little rues, it joined forces with a loosely organized rainstorm that made for several days of wind and sog.

Night after night throughout the quartier (neighborhood), old shutters not firmly fastened could be heard banging and rattling against their ancient stone walls, trees were bent low over puddled inner courtyards and the cats of Provence cried out in the dark. Quite a tumultuous welcome for this brand new baby year.

Being blown to bits were the plants in the courtyard, my new haircut and the tarps at the marché. This mischievous wind has blown my thoughts asunder as well. So it’s "potluck" today, dear readers. I had intended to make this short and sweet and stick to a new year’s greeting for 2008...and then that wind kicked up and my thoughts got tumbled...and, well...then the king cakes showed up in the town’s boulangeries and suddenly I had a new year’s post that was going every which way!

Hang on to your hats (and anything else not nailed down!) and just go with me on this one.

As the lights and greens of the holiday season are being pulled down from our little rues and the silver lavender fields are being frosted white, the Gateau de Roi, or king cake, arrives to celebrate Epiphany. There are two types offered. Last year, La Fourchette brought you an introduction to one of these annual delicacies and its tradition. This year it is only fair to shine the light on the “other” little gateau.

Made with brioche, it is a ring, symbolizing a crown, with the same bean/king combo baked inside. Same tradition, same rules...different cake. I’m a brioche lover so this is easy for me: Make mine brioche from here on out! Topped with candied fruit and seriously grand sugar crystals, it is sometimes studded with candied fruit on the inside as well. Me, I prefer the simple brioche, keeping my candied fruit to the top only...but to each her own.

Enjoyed as a dessert to end a winter meal (and see who will be bringing the next cake while the season lasts), or as a little something to nibble with tea as the morning light breaks open a new works. It’s not exactly the salads that I crave after the holiday feasting...but it’s all good.

The "sujet" or charm buried in the first cake of the season this year was not a king but that of a boulanger! Bravo! A petite reminder to appreciate those who bring us our daily bread!

As for 2008, starting with a clean desk and a revised system for organizing and tracking all of my projects has me feeling quite optimistic about the year ahead. Actually, if truth were told, I always feel optimistic about a new year. 2008 is simply the next year about which I feel optimistic. After the high energy of the holidays, I look forward to the early hours of the new year for reflection. A bit of clearing of mind, body and spirit. An opportunity to start with a clean...plate!

I send to all of you my best wishes as we step gently into this new year together.

May we go into 2008 with a sense of fearlessness...

...feet on the ground and heads in the clouds (just enough to stay in touch with our dreams!)...

...and may we keep our forks ready to dig into all that comes to greet us in 2008.

I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

Bonne année,

* In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus


Anonymous said...

Although we don't often, make that hardly ever, post be assured we eagerly look forward to each months edition. It's like recieving a breath of France as well as keeping us conected to a lovely "french" lady. Love, Ira and Charlie

la fourchette said...

charlie and ira, why thank you! and thanks for reading whenever no matter how often you are able to drop in. (and that's *weekly*, by the way...whew! who knew I could keep that up...but it seems to be happening!)

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