Thanksgiving. Thoughts run to grateful colonists tapping a bountiful harvest to celebrate a three-day feast. And today, however large or small our bounty, we gather in thanks to share a feast of turkey and stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pies and all of the sides that make up a traditional family feast.
Interesting isn’t it that only a couple of letters separate fête and feast? Let’s forget for a moment the hearty cave decorators, who spread their paintings across the Dordogne as long ago as 18,000 BC. Looking toward more modern-day France, the people and the country have hosted thousands of fêtes to celebrate religious holidays, music, art, theatre and wine harvests. There has been no shortage of celebratory fetes!
And while lovely French cuisine may well be a part of each festival, it was not until September, 2011, that France held its first Fête de la Gastronomie. Naturally a genuine gala kicked off in Paris with the preparation of a giant cassoulet underneath the Eiffel Tower. The 2012 curator of the Fête de la Gastronomie, Sophie Mise, summed it up accurately – “…gastronomy is so very omnipresent that we had almost forgotten to celebrate it!”
So a new tradition was born and will be held throughout the country each year on the first day of Autumn. Chefs tap every inkling of their rebellious creativity. Schools offer special menus for students. Grand-meres prepare age-old treasures, and villages draw people into the central market to share inventive cuisine from locally-produced foods and wine. Last year, Strasbourg hosted a unique event – La Soupe des Marches – offering free mugs of soup, the recipe and the mug as a gift.
We are foremost thankful for our health, family and friends. And we are especially thankful for the many shades of France that have colored our lives.
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