Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Holiday break

Merry Christmas to all !
No, the beautiful dinner table photo was not taken at my place but in the lobby of Avignon's Town Hall (free entry) where you can see a display of the traditional Provencal Christmas dinner : le gros souper (the big supper) is a pre-Midnight Mass dinner set with three tablecloths and three candlesticks which ends with a ritual number of 13 desserts symbolizing Christ and his 12 apostles. The 13 desserts are made of:
- Nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts
- Dried fruit such as raisins, dried figs and apricots
- Quince paste, candied fruit, jams
- Fresh fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, mandarins, melon or oranges specially saved for the occasion
- Two types of nougat (fudge), soft white and hard black,
- The pompe à huile or fougasse (a pastry made with olive oil).
All thirteen are served at the same time along with cooked wine, which represents Jesus himself. For good luck the guests must have a little bit of everything.

I am not originally from Provence so we didn't have the 13 desserts. I wonder how many families here still do? Anyway, wherever you are and whatever the menu, I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas. I will be taking a holiday break for a few days. See you soon!

Joyeux Noël à tous ! Non, la photo de cette belle table n'a pas été prise chez moi mais dans le hall de la Mairie d'Avignon (entrée gratuite) où sont exposés une grande crèche et un décor de Noël provençal traditionnel. Le Gros Souper, pris avant la messe de minuit, était servi sur une table recouverte de trois nappes et décorée de trois chandeliers . Il comportait traditionnellement treize desserts dont la liste, malgré des variantes, comprend toujours :
- deux sortes de nougats, blanc tendre et brun dur
- des noix, noisettes, amandes
- des fruits secs tels que raisins secs, figues séchées, abricots secs, dattes
- de la pâte de coing et des fruits confits
- des fruits frais conservés spécialement pour l'occasion : pommes, poires, raisin blanc ou noir, clémentines, oranges, melon
- la pompe à huile ou fougasse (pâtisserie à base d'huile d'olive)
Tous les desserts sont servis en même temps et chaque convive doit manger un peu de tout, ce qui lui portera bonheur pour toute l'année.

Je ne suis pas d'origine avignonnaise et nous n'avons pas servi les treize desserts. Je me demande combien de familles aujourd'hui poursuivent la tradition ? En tout cas, où que vous soyiez et quel que soit le menu, j'espère que vous passez un joyeux Noël ! Je me mets en vacances pour quelques jours, à bientôt sur la toile !


tut-tut said...

Merry Christmas to you!

Bill said...

Well I did have 2 pieces of Pumpkin Pie today. Not sure I could hold out for 11 more! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Olivier said...

les 13 desserts de noël, c'est très important et en plus il y a une régle très précise. Trés belle l'illumination de Noël, elle a un cote rétro, j'aime beaucoup.
J'espère que tu as bien profité de ton 1er noël à Avignon

Olivier said...

Pour les dates je veux bien j'adore ça ;o)

oldmanlincoln said...

Oh my . That table setting is magnificent. I would love to be seated there to enjoy that meal and that wine. Oh my; it is beautiful.

Gregory Sey said...

Moi je veux bien suivre la tradition mais alors je ne manger que le (les) desserts!

Maxime said...

Bonnes vacances Nathalie, et à l'année prochaine, à moins que tu ne sois rentrée d'ici là !

bv said...

No worries, I am not originally from Provence but having lived there for a while, I can tell you the "13 desserts" is a tradition I've kept very strong, wherever I do celebrate Xmas...

First time for a while we are not celebrating all together New Year Eve on the Bay...

All the very best for 2008!

Deslilas said...

Joyeux Noël de Scanie.
God Jul från Skåne.

Ehiie said...

Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année à toi !

Sally said...

Good grief - 13 desserts! Even Ben would have trouble with that lot!

d. chedwick bryant said...

My father's mother was from the Alpes Maritimes region of France and she always served 13 desserts--my mother kept up the tradition to please my father, but I have not. I don't possess the same sweet tooth they had!

Kate said...

The table is VERY elegant!! But, I'm not sure that I could handle 13 desserts. Your top photo is very festive. Happy New Year to you and may all good things happen, including joy, health, and much happiness.

Rauf said...

Lovely picture of the dinner table Nathalie !
Free Entry
Free food ??
i'll eat everything Nathalie, Anything sweet, i am there.
I had lots of cakes, and local sweet dishes. We have hundreds of them, thousands perhaps (no Joke)

Hope you had wonderful Christmas Nathalie
Happy new year to you and the family.

claude said...

Très belles lumières de Noël à Avignon et très belle table de Fête. J'ai eu la même idée, J'ai photographié la mienne mais elle n'est pas si jolie. Bonne Année 2008 Nathalie !

Ruth said...

Amazing how there are always new traditions to learn about. I had never heard of the 13 desserts, thank you for explaining. It must be fun to find creative ways to cook these ingredients up in new recipes.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

April said...

A wonderfully laid table, great picture and sooo many desserts. Good tradition as well. But who can eat all this?? ;-)

Bergson said...

13 desserts il y en a2 de trop pour moi ;-)

joyeux Noël !!

whyioughtta said...

Can you spread the 13 desserts out over a few days? If so, I've had a very Provencal Christmas.

Happy holidays to you. Lovely table.

Anonymous said...

Très jolie table, on a envie de s'y asseoir et t'attendre que l'on nous serve un peu de bon vin, mais pas trop...

le Pierrot said...

Pardon, je ne suis plus anonyme, mal cliqué...

Pod said...

salut madame!
je pense a toi quand je suis mordu de le plage avec une derriere enflamme!

GMG said...

13 desserts? I thought the incredible 8 we had at home were already a treat. Have to reconsider... ;)
Wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2008!

le Pierrot said...

Nathalie, tu m'as gardé une part de gâteau ?

Mme Benaut said...

I could happily partake of such a delicious supper Nathalie but my favourite would have to be le nougat, blanc tendre.
Cooked wine sounds rather intriguing.
Hope you are enjoying your break.
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2008.

Ming the Merciless said...

Belated Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family.

So how do I get invited to the dinner at the Avignon Town Hall? :-)

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