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Feb 12

Mardi Gras celebrations in France and yummy recipe for Crepes

Shrove Tuesday on February 16th 2021 means that across the UK there will be people practising their pancake tossing !

But let us learn a little of how it is celebrated in France.

Origins of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a well-known event in New Orleans and in Brazil, but why is Mardi Gras celebrated in France?

Mardi Gras has a few different roots, some in Christian culture, and some in pagan culture. These days, Mardi Gras is seen as a Catholic tradition, but what people actually do on this day is quite different to what people do on other Catholic holidays. Like Christmas and Easter, Mardi Gras includes a very large meal and a gathering of friends and family, but neither Christmas nor Easter includes masks, costumes and unlimited dancing and fooling around. For this reason, Mardi Gras can be interpreted as a mix of Catholic and pagan traditions: the holiday is Catholic, and the means of celebrating it stem from local traditions.

As we know the period of Lent is the period leading up to Easter. Since the period of Lent requires Catholics to fast, or to give up certain foods if not fasting, as well as make general resolutions for oneself that require self-discipline, Mardi Gras is said to have been created for one last day of unlimited fun and eating before giving up so much during Lent. Originally, a fattened calf was slaughtered as a Mardi Gras feast; in some cultures, pancakes became a traditional Mardi Gras meal because the milk and butter had to be used up before Lent began, or thrown away.

The name Mardi Gras literally translates to Tuesday Fat (or in English: Fat Tuesday). The name comes from fattening the calf and feasting on it; Tuesday is always the day that precedes the beginning of Lent (which starts on Ash Wednesday).

While the origins of Mardi Gras in France are religious and spiritual, Mardi Gras is mainly celebrated today simply because it is fun. While many Catholics still actively observe Lent and the traditions of not indulging excessively, Mardi Gras is celebrated not only by those Catholics who are going into a period of limited indulgence, but also by the general public.

The biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in France are in Nice and in Paris. However, there are celebrations big and small all over North West France in cities, towns and villages.

So whether you observe it as a religious occasion or an excuse for a party the one thing in common is the delightful taste, when cooked correctly, of the humble Pancake or Crêpe.

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Recipe & instructions for the perfect French crêpe.

A delicious French crêpe is versatile and not only for one day a year, as we all know there is always a crêpe van at a French market and whatever your choice of topping it is a treat worth signing up for.

But a well cooked crêpe at home can add a sophisticated touch to any dinner or desert course. It may look simple, but aspiring cooks are often disappointed that their results don't turn out like the thin, delicate ones found from the van at the market or indulged in at a fancy restaurant. However, don't despair – we have the recipe and method for you to impress even the harshest of critics.

As with many things it is the technique involved that makes the difference !

So how to make the perfect French Crêpe? This crêpe recipe makes a double batch because the perfect number of eggs per batch is 1.5 and leftovers are always nice!

Instructions

Things You will Need:

  • a non-stick crêpe pan or skillet, preferably thick bottomed.
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tsp sugar (if you want a sweet, dessert style French crêpe)
  • 3 eggs
  • butter wrapper
  • large spoon or ladle
  • plate
  • thin spatula
  • eager children, hungry neighbours or friends and family

First beat the three eggs in a small bowl. Then, whisk together the flour, milk, and eggs in a large bowl until you have no lumps. Microwave the butter in a small cup or bowl for about 20 seconds. Add a few spoonfuls of the batter to the melted butter and mix well. Then whisk the mixture into the batter. Tilt the batter against the side of the bowl to make sure all lumps are gone.

The most important step to making a French crêpe is greasing the crêpe pan. Too much butter will cause burning and not enough will cause sticking. Warm the pan slightly on the stove. Using a tiny piece of butter, grease the crêpe pan with the butter wrapper. Push down very hard so that the pan slowly absorbs the butter.

Then, heat the crêpe pan to medium heat. You might need to adjust this down slightly as you cook each French crêpe.

Once the crêpe pan is heated, hold it in your left hand (if you are left handed hold it in your right hand) off the heat. Use a large spoon or ladle to scoop out a few tablespoons of batter and pour it into the middle of the pan. Quickly, but steadily, tilt the pan to swirl the batter and coat the pan as thinly as possible and form the French crêpe.

When the edge starts to firm (don't let it get brown yet), loosen it by sliding a thin spatula underneath and around the edges. Then, here comes the fun part, flip the French crêpe over (check the ceiling height first!). Cook the other side for about 30 seconds and then lift the crêpe pan and flip the crêpe over onto the plate.

Hold the crêpe pan in your left hand (if you're right handed) off the heat for about 20-30 seconds before pouring the next one. This lets the pan cool down enough so that the batter cooks less quickly when it first hits the pan and can spread more thinly.

Bask in the glory of being the best Crêpe maker in the house and try to have some left to enjoy your own perfect French crêpe!

Blog submitted by: David at Cle France.

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For everything you need to know about French property visit www.clefrance.co.uk

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Jan 27

Guide to Living in France - Post Brexit

New Guide to Living in France - Post Brexit

Now that the UK is outside of the European Union our guide is an important and informative read.

Our popular and helpful 'PDF Guides' are free for you to download.

Essential reading for anyone looking to buy a Holiday Home or Full-Time Home in France in 2021.

Living in France now? then find out what will change.

In the guide we look at how Brits can buy and live in France in 2021 and beyond.

Get Your Free PDF Guide to Living in France - Post Brexit here

Living in France Post Brexit

Kind regards, 
Sharon Evans 
Founder of Clé France.

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Jan 2

New Year's Traditions in France

French Culture – New Year’s Traditions

On this deuxième jour de janvier (second day of January), I’d like to start off by wishing everyone une très bonne année! (a very Happy New Year!) New Year’s provides the French with not one, but two more chances to do what they do best . . . celebrate!

Like most festive French holidays, New Year’s (both le Réveillon et le jour de l’An / New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) feature great food and, of course, Champagne!* Many French New Year’s feasts also feature a (or many!) big platter(s) of freshly shucked huîtres (oysters). Shipped fresh from the ports of la Bretagne (Brittany), les huîtres are a favourite of the French for the holidays

Les mois sans ‘r’

While oysters are now consumed year-round, historically eating oysters (and other seafood) in the warmer months could be dangerous for those living far from the shore (no refrigeration meant that delicate seafood could easily spoil in transport). Oysters also reproduce when the water around them gets warm (generally in mid-spring and summer months of mai, juin, juillet, et août / May, June, July, and August) and some find that oysters are not as good at this this time. These two facts resulted in a common French tradition of avoiding oysters in les mois sans ‘r’/months without an ‘r’!

New Years Eve

Le saviez-vous? / Did you know?

Le jour de l’An (New Years Day) was not always January 1st. For centuries, the start of the year varied from country to country and even sometimes by region. In parts of France the new year once started on April 1 (and some say that the tradition of le poisson d’avril dates from this period). It wasn’t until the late 16th century, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar we know today, that January 1 was officially established as the start of the new year (at least throughout the Christian world).

* While most wine-producing countries have some form of vin mousseux/sparkling wine (Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain; even France has vin mousseux produced in regions outside Champagne ), Champagne is only Champagne if it is produced in the French region of the same name.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Jan 1

Bonne année! Happy New Year!

French Question: Why is it “Le Novel An” and not “Le Nouveau An”?

We wish all of our subscribers a happy and healthy 2021.

Talking about the new year in French can be especially difficult. This is because there are two words that mean “year”–an (m) and année (f), and because both of these words start with a vowel, which can change the word that comes before it.

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What’s the difference between an and année?  Besides the fact that an is masculine and année is feminine, an describes a particular moment during the year while année describes a span of time (this is similar to the pairs soir and soirée).

Thus, you would say: C’est le jour du nouvel an (It’s New Year’s Day) using an instead of année because you are referencing a particular moment of time during the year (New Year’s Day).

If, however, you would like to wish someone a happy new year, this is over a span of time, which lasts for the entire year. That’s why you use année in the expression “Happy New Year” or bonne année.

But there’s another trick when referencing the new year, or le nouvel an, in French. Because an is masculine, the adjective typically used with it should be nouveau. However, in French, an adjective cannot end with a vowel if the following noun also begins with a vowel (for reason of pronunciation or liaison).

Thus, there is always a masculine form of a word that can be used only in front of masculine nouns that start with vowels. In this case, that would be nouvel. Nouvel is pronounced just like the feminine form nouvelle, so don’t get confused if you hear someone say le nouvel an–this doesn’t mean that an is feminine. (You can also think about the difference between the demonstrative adjectives ce (masculine), cette (feminine), and cet (masculine before a masculine noun that begins with a vowel).

Alors, je vous souhaite tous une bonne année et j’espère que vous avez passé un bon nouvel an avec votre famille!

Bonne année! Happy New Year!

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Dec 31

Saint-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve)

Le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve)

The new year (le nouvel an) is fast approaching.

In France, as elsewhere, New Year’s Eve (called le réveillon du jour de l’an) is typically celebrated with friends. It’s common to celebrate the new year with champagne and fireworks.

But did you know that, unlike in English, New Year’s Eve also has a different name? In French, New Year’s Eve is also known as le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre.

New Years Eve

But who was Saint Sylvester?

Saint Sylvester was pope (pape) from 314 to 335 AD. Not much is known about his life, although the church grew in power during his tenure, erecting such monuments as Santa Croce in Jerusalem and the old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Most of our common knowledge about Saint Sylvester is through unverified (and potentially fictional) stories about his relationship with the Emperor Constantine. One fictitious story stated that, upon administering blessed water, Sylvester cured Constantine of leprosy. Supposedly, it was Sylvester’s miracle that influenced Constantine to convert to Christianity.

The Feast of Saint Sylvester is celebrated around the world on December 31, because this was the day he died in 335. Today, many countries around the world—and not just France—refer to New Year’s Eve as Silvester, or a similar name in tribute of the ancient pope. For example, in Germany, Christian households traditionally celebrate Saint Sylvester’s Day by melting Silvesterblei (Silvester lead) in a spoon and dropping it into cold water, then divining the year ahead based on the shape of the cooled metal. In Switzerland, men dress as Silvesterklaus and ring large bells to welcome in the new year.

In France, la Saint Sylvestre is celebrated with friends, good food, champagne, and firecrackers or noisemakers. But there is one more tradition that is often reserved for this special day: le baiser sous le gui (kissing under the mistletoe). Unlike in some Anglophone cultures, where kissing under the mistletoe is a Christmas tradition, this ancient ritual is reserved for la Saint-Sylvestre in France.

Bonne année!

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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