We have all long ago agreeed that there are some things from the UK that expats can’t manage without. Or perhaps it was just marmite and mince pies?
So following a week of Christmas and New Year over-eating and festivities and I thought a reminder of what we have to celebrate with in France, and how it compares with its British counterpart, might be a good idea.
Our first competition is between the traditional christmas pudding and the French christmas log – the ‘bûche de Noel’.
In normal circumstances I would give the prize to the Christmas pudding, but since it follows straight after a big meal I am going to have to say the Christmas log is a better choice. Ours was exceptionally delicious. It also looked a bit like a train but that is an optional pleasure! (If truth be told we had Christmas pudding as well, but on Boxing Day instead of Christmas day.)
Second tricky choice – which aperitif to drink. I think port and sherry are the most popular aperitifs in Britain for those who don’t rush straight to the wine box or the gin and tonic, and the choice in France is just as varied – but I can’t think of anything as flavoursome as port and I can’t tolerate pernod type drinks so I’ll give the vote to the Brits.
The more adventurous in France can try an aperitif that is popular in the Christmas markets of northern France – a sort of variant of mulled wine that is made using various fruits or nuts such as raspberies or chestnuts. Ours was called Moretum and made from blackberries. Let’s call it an unusual treat but no replacement for a glass of port!
The next difficult choice is cheese. Both countries make exceptional cheeses so it is easy to come up with a good choice whichever country you live in. Ignoring the hundreds of local specialities our family is even split on whether roquefort and cantal make for a better choice of cheese than stilton and cheddar so we’ll concede a draw between the countries for the cheese trolley.
In the last and final battle for our Christmas festivities we have to turn to Champagne. More or less the same in both countries you might think, so nothing to choose between the two…
…except that the most popular champagne around here this year seems to be one being sold by a leading supermarket chain and costs about eight euros (six pounds) a bottle.
Now I’m no champagne expert but to me it tastes pretty good and at a price like that can you drink it even during a recession. So I give the champagne award to the French.
So there you have it! Both France and Britain can rustle up a perfectly good party celebration – as long as marmite isn’t a key part of your christmas experience.