Saturday, December 27, 2008
Putting the "No more!" into "Noël
The Strasbourg city tree on Place Kleber. Ours looks just like this, trust me. Photo by Stefan Hamm.
Hope everyone had a merry Christmas, or, failing that, enjoyed your day off with friends and family. Amynah and I stretched our Christmas out over three days, though our social obligations are continuing.
On Christmas Eve we invited over a small group of friends to treat them to a Canadian-style Christmas dinner. All of our guests were international researchers at Amynah’s institute, and none celebrate Christmas normally (thus why we were fairly certain they’d be around for dinner).
We aimed to put on a feast: garlic mashed potatoes, two different kinds of leeks, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce and not one but two chickens (one spiced with tandoori, made by me, one “whitey style” made by the only person around here that would call something “whitey-style.”)
The guests, about to tuck in
Most of the food was not entirely new to the group, of course, except for the stuffing. Lama, who speaks more French than English, asked what the word for this would be – I had no idea, and so we just called it “Le stuffing.” The dinner was a success, in the sense that everyone finished the evening clutching their stomachs, eyes glazed as their digestive systems commandeered all reserve energy to cope with the protein avalanche.
Of course, we then had dessert, which consisted of a cranberry tart made by Amynah, egg tart thingies made by Qi and some sort of delicious Syrian crepe-marzapone confection brought by Lama.
We woke up at roughly 10 AM the next day, having been awake until 2:30 AM cleaning up the mess (I’ve no idea how my Mom, making at least as much food pretty much on her own, managed to do so without leaving so much as a speck of evidence of having done so in our kitchen). We exchanged our presents, and opened a few gifts that my parents sent, the highlight being a pair of underwear I’d left at their place this past summer.
We then headed to lunch at David and Danielle’s in Kehl. We opened Christmas Crackers, a British tradition that was a first for me (inside mine: a miniature roll of tape. You won’t shut me up that easily, Beeson’s!) Then we enjoyed another massive feast, the centerpiece of which was an enormous leg of lamb.
Everyone now suffering badly from seasonal over-consumption, we rolled ourselves back across the border to St Thomas’s Church, an ancient stone heap whose amazing acoustics had been enjoyed by Mozart and Nobel-winner Albert Schweitzer, who raised money for his hospital in Africa by holding concerts here. This time, it was hosting a concert of gospel-style Christmas music, sung by a woman from North Carolina, and Marcel Loeffler, a blind maestro of the accordion. I’d wanted to see a concert in this church since coming here and I was not disappointed: when Lisa hit a high note, the entire space was filled with flawless, beautiful sound.
Lisa and Marcel doing something considerably less seasonal
Yesterday, we reverted to our more usual Christmas traditions: watching Bollywood movies in our pajamas. I think that’s how Jesus would have done it, don’t you?