Best of January

Rue André Antoine

How are things? I hope this fresh new year is smiling its freshest, brightest smile at you already. That’s how I feel myself!

• This month, I went with my father to see the exhibition about René Goscinny at the Jewish Art and History Museum in Paris. His name may not ring a bell, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his work.

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Winter Vegetable Curry

Winter Vegetable Curry

Photography by Céline de Cérou.

Do you want to hear one of the least publicized benefits of working from home? You get sick less often.

Not only can you choose to stay in when it’s cold and drizzly and icky outside (pyjamas optional), but you also spend less time in crowded public transportation, shake fewer hands and kiss fewer cheeks (in French office environments, it is common to kiss your close colleagues hello when you come in in the morning), and touch fewer shared coffee pots and bathroom door handles.

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Vegetarian Batch-Cooking for Winter: 1 1/2-Hour Prep, 6 Easy Meals !

Vegetarian Batch-Cooking for Winter

In addition to planning my menus, I have been doing more and more batch cooking these past few months.

The idea of batch cooking is to block out time one day of the week to prep or cook a bunch of ingredients in advance, which you can draw from and combine for low-effort homemade meals the rest of the week.

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What To Do Instead of a Detox: A Gentler Way to Start The Year

We’re just a couple of days into January, and already you are being assailed by messages of diet this and detox that.

And certainly, you will feel the pull. Who wouldn’t? It’s everywhere, and you feel a little food-ed out from the holiday celebrations. But. There is more than one way to handle this feeling, and I’d like to offer an alternative to self-punishment.

Instead of diving head first into group guilt, self-loathing, shame, restrictive eating, imaginative cleanses, and the inevitable backlash they breed, consider directing these vast (VAST!) amounts of time and energy and brain juice toward making peace with food and with your body.

It’s revolutionary.

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French Holiday Recipes

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Christmas is just a few days away (not to stress you out or anything) and I was shocked to realize that, in fourteen years of Chocolate & Zucchini, I have never offered an actual post outlining how to host a French holiday meal.

So whether you’re seeking to add a little Frenchness to your holiday celebrations, attending your first bona fide French holiday meal this year, or even hosting one (gah!), let me break things down for you, and suggest some winning French holiday recipes.

Christmas and the New Year

French families get together for a Christmas Eve dinner (le réveillon de Noël), and often there’s a second meal for Christmas Day lunch (not breakfast or brunch), either with the same cast or with a different part of the family.

Christmas is largely celebrated in the home; most restaurants are closed that night for staff members to celebrate with their own family. It is considered an intimate occasion reserved for family members and close family friends, so if you are a guest from outside the family, it’s a big deal. Presents are opened either after dinner on Christmas Eve, or in the morning on Christmas Day.

The French New Year’s Eve (le réveillon du Nouvel An) is often celebrated with friends rather than with family, and it is more of a grown-up occasion. If there are small children, they will be tucked into bed early or allowed to collapse on some couch, but the party is not about them. (Sorry kids.)

Some people go out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t know who they are and I wouldn’t want to go with them. In my circle, we are more likely to have a special dinner at someone’s house, and possibly go out later, or just push the furniture and party at home*.

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