Snapshot #1: FOOD
We had a great visit with our friends. Highlights included Dean cooking raclette on Christmas Eve. What is raclette, you ask? Merely a quick way to die happy.
First you make mashed potatoes with lots of garlic, cream and black pepper.
Then you put a bit of olive oil in a frying pan, and add slices of raclette, which is a type of French cheese. I suppose it is somewhat similar to a brie. You let it melt. Then you pour it over the potatoes. Eat it with some kind of pork product, and a green salad to cut the richness of it.
It is sooo good.
THEN, just to keep the good French customs going, we had a buche de Noel. For those of you poor people who have never been able to sample this wonder, it is incredible. Ours was “fort en chocolat,” made of a layer of cake, chocolate mousse filling, dark chocolate ganache, I don’t know. I wish I could accurately describe it to you. Imagine creamy dark chocolate melting on your tongue. Incredible.
Christmas morning, we came back to American traditions and had baked French toast with fresh local strawberries. Oh wait–guess that part’s not traditional. Sure was good though!
Snapshot #2: HOMELESS
The story of the first Christmas includes some homeless people, seeking for a place to stay, giving birth in a stable. This year, we decided to emulate them. Well, not in EVERY detail. But we heard just before Christmas that this place we’re living would be even more temporary than we were hoping–we need to be out January 20th. That put a bit of a spin on our moods, as you can imagine. But in the week since we got this news, we’ve seen a couple of possibilities. One was on the beach–can you imagine how nice that would be? It’s in budget too. Of course it would take us at least 40 minutes to get the kids home from school…
Snapshot #3: CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
Ilsa and I and her little friend decided to go to the Christmas Eve service. We were on time, which meant we got roped into participating. We trooped up front to light the Advent Wreath, and Ilsa and I both did readings. Hers was in French. Mine, thankfully, was not.
She and another girl walked down the aisle lighting candles, and I loved watching her stop at each pew, her face intent in the light of the tiny flame, framed by her long hair, as she leaned her little candle towards theirs. We sang Silent Night like this: verse 1 in English, 2 in French, 3 in German, 4 in Spanish, 5 in Arabic, and 6 in English again. Phew!
Snapshot #4: LES CADEAUX
Our guests left before noon, and as soon as they were gone we started opening presents. Shopping was a bit challenging this year. They say you can find anything in Rabat, and they are almost right. You can find name brands; Cartier, LaCoste, Estee Lauder, Guess. You can find cheap Chinese knock-offs, and a staggering variety of colourful, locally-made goods. What is missing is the in-between, the level of Old Navy and Target.
We got Elliot a black leather jacket, locally made lambskin, soft as butter. He looks very cool, and he wanted it, but not as much as a drum set. On the other hand, homeless people in general don’t buy drum sets–especially not those who might end up in an apartment. Although this might be a good way to meet the neighbours.
Snapshot #4: CHOCOLATE
Knowing we had guests coming, we bought a box of truffles. Then a friend gave us a purple heart filled with chocolates. Then my Moroccan friend brought us boxes of Lindt and Ferrero-Rocher. Then my children bought me chocolate.
So why did I still make fudge?