Friday, January 1, 2016

Joie de Vivre, Personified

This Christmas, I went back to my roots. 

Some of my cousins from France were vacationing in the U.S., so we all gathered for a holiday family reunion. They are such a lovely bunch of people. Inside and out, and in between. I mean it. Every single one of them. And they enjoy the hell out of life. They personify a joie de vivre that is infectious. 

While the French, in general, have a passion for food, we Gochtovtts are epicureans to the very core of our souls. Our lives revolve around it. Our lives depend on good cheese and crusty bread. And wine. 

The men spent a lot of their time cooking delicious food. 

Holy Mother of Cheesus.
Speaking of cheese. I'm going to share with you this secret recipe I recently learned from these fine people.

Here are the ingredients:

Brie and Marscapone

Olive tapenade and black truffles.
My cousins used a truffle tapenade, but I couldn't find it in Fort Wayne.
So I improvised and used whole truffles and olive tapenade.
I happened to have truffle salt, which I'd received as a gift last Christmas, from a friend who really gets me.
It was perfect to season the marscapone cheese mixture.
Once you have the ingredients, it's easy:

1. Mix the marscapone with two to three tablespoons of olive tapenade and two very finely chopped truffles.
2. Add truffle salt (optional).
3. Cut the brie length-wise and spread the marscapone mixture in the middle.
4. Voila!

It's the best damn cheese you'll ever taste. I promise. (Serve it at room temperature, or I will cut you.)
And if you have to choose between paying your electric bill or buying a jar of whole truffles at The Fresh Market, choose the truffles. You won't regret it. It tastes great in the dark.

Live your life.

The U.S. cousins.

That's a hell of a lot of Gochtovtts.

I love this moment.


Yo, what's happening here?
We went on a Christmas day hike.

Cyd told us today that her wish didn't come true, even though she blew out all the candles.
She wished it would rain cats and dogs. Seriously. 
Cyd, the birthday kid.

Look at all those French people on a bridge. 

This is the adult table. It took a long time to serve everyone. 
I was going to take a picture of everyone sitting at that giant table, but by the time we sat down for dinner, I had lost my camera. In other words, I was drunk.

Back in Indiana, I got to hold my newest American nephew. My ovaries cried with joy and love. 
After the long 12 hour drive back to Indiana, we were all tired. The kids were tucked in but Cyd kept getting out of bed. After the third time of getting her back to bed, I gave in and layed down next to her. She said, "Thanks. This is what I needed."

She laid her head on my shoulder and I asked her if she needed a pillow so she could be more comfortable. She said, "No. Your bones are fluffy.  Your bones are made of cotton." My little Cyda is a poet. A POET.

The moral of this story is we should strive to enjoy the moments that make up our beautiful life. Prepare food with love. Be kind to people. Splurge. For the love of all that is good in the world, splurge when you can. You almost always can.

New Year's Day smoked salmon eggs benedict. 

Peace out.