Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day!

Today was France's national day. In the United States, it's commonly known as Bastille Day. In France, we refer to it as "la Fete Nationale" or "le 14 juillet". There's noting much different in the way we celebrate. There's grilling involved, maybe picnics and always fireworks bien sur!!

It's been five years that I haven't been home for le 14 juillet but fortunately, Austin's French Alliance has been organizing a Bastille Day Celebration for the past 12 years. Saturday was the second time Juan and I went. Many of our friends came and it was all that I wanted for my Bastille Day: good company, music and nice food.

The lawn of the French Legation Museum was not too crowded. There were lots of children running, families and people juggling with diabolos (yes juggling. I joked that I did not know juggling was a typical French thing to do). No they were not wearing any hat with bells.

We found a spot under a tree, where we settled ourselves down, picnic style. The food was provided so all we needed to do was walk to the tables and choose between
merguez or a pate sandwiches, croque-monsieurs, cheese plates - among other things.

My heart was set on the
merguez sandwich, a spicy sausage originally from Northern Africa but adopted by the French. It's so much part of our culture now! We sometimes eat it as a sandwich, in a fresh crispy baguette, along with French mustard. Yum!!

There was a "guillotine" there. It was for people to have their picture taken by a photographer. I'm not sure how I feel about a guillotine - even fake - being displayed at a Bastille Day celebration. It seemed unusual (we don't usually have fun around a fake guillotine), but all in all it made everyone smile.

The rest of the evening was spent talking and eating - and juggling for some of us. Even though I was not in France, it was the best American 14th of July I had ever had!

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