Life is Different Here: French Weddings; and Big, Stuffed Burgers!

We’re off house hunting again, 3 days this time.  The contract for our house has finally been signed (only took 6 weeks) so the panic is official.

Since one of my favorite themes is “Life is Different Here” let me tell you (once again) about French Weddings:

It’s summer!

The streets and roads have been filled with honking cars and the night skies with fireworks.

No, it’s not the World Cup or Tour de France or even gas-price protests.

It’s Wedding Season!

Wed200 We were invited to the wedding of our neighbor’s daughter shortly after we moved here, or should I say, part of the wedding.

Weddings here happen in many parts and one can be invited to one, more or all of it.

There is the civil ceremony (which is the actual marriage);
The blessing of the marriage in church;
The toast in the local hall;
The reception/lunch;
The reception/dessert; (yes, one can be invited just for dessert)
And, finally, the dance.

Oh, and if one is invited to the dance one may (or may not) be invited for The Soup.

We were invited to the blessing, the toast and the dance.

It was, as expected, different to the typical U.S. wedding.

There was no Wedding Party as such: no bridesmaids in matching dresses, groomsmen in tuxedos, etc.

The bride had a proper, lovely white wedding dress and the groom was in a ‘morning coat’ – quite dashing.

A young aunt of the bride had on a long dress and appeared to be a witness along with  the brother of the bride but there was no wedding processional up the aisle.  The whole group – family, friends, bride & groom, just milled into the church together.

On the way out the bride & groom hung back a bit and then walked out of the church door through a flowered arch held up by their friends.  That was followed by the family photos in the church doorway.  And that was it – very informal with lots of kissing and laughing and no wedding planner with 6 inch thick spiral book in sight!

We skipped the toast as our French ‘small talk’ was exhausted by this time and it was barely noon.

We met up with the wedding party again at the dance.  They had all had the Toast, the Lunch, the Dessert, and, I’m sure, copious amounts of wine and probably a nap.

The dance, again, was unlike what I am used to.  There were no tables for people to sit at, have drinks, chat and watch. One was expected to dance!  And everyone did.

The bride dutifully came over to greet us, receive her 4 kisses and congratulations.

There was a live band that was quite good and an open bar outside.

About 2 hours into the dance we had ‘la brioche’….yes the bread.  A huge brioche, weighing about 15 kilos I am told, was brought in on a large wooden platter with handles – about 4 feet across.  The bridle couple held it above their heads and everyone, starting with the parents danced under it.  Then the parents held it, then the aunts and uncles…Apparently it brings good luck and long marriage to hold the brioche and then to dance under it.  (Later it was cut up passed around on trays).

Then Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs appeared;  Snow White being the bride’s brother very fetchingly decked out in a short dress.  The ‘best man’ is always in charge of the entertainment at the dance and there are always skits, normally expounding on the virtues/foibles of the newly wedded couple.

There were several costume changes and skits done by the group – we hadn’t a clue what was going on but there was lots of loud laughter, loud stomping, high kicks and wild dancing.

We left about 1:30 – and were invited for onion soup at the bride’s parent’s house – for 4:30.

The onion soup is a long tradition: in the old days, when the young couple would still be living with the parents after they were married,  they would be sent off to consummate the marriage while the family stayed at the dance.  After an appropriate amount of time their friends would go to the house with a kettle of onion soup to ‘wake them up’.  Then the rest of the party would come to celebrate and finish the soup.  We skipped that, too although we heard everyone else arrive – and leave (It was the farmer that lives behind us)

The next day the parents hosted a small lunch for 100 family members….and the wedding was officially over!  Stuffed Burger

Speaking of summer…. how about a giant burger?

Big, Stuffed Burger….. for 2

12oz (350gr) ground beef (mince)
1 onion
2 tsp olive oil
3 tbs dry bread crumbs
1 tbs ketchup
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2oz, (60gr) sliced or shredded cheese I use Colby
If cooking on the barbecue: wire grill-basket or onto a mesh grill pan
If cooking in the oven: baking sheet

Chop onion and sauté in olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until golden, about 7 minutes. Oil grill basket or baking sheet. Divide beef in half. On plates or waxed paper pat each half into a thin patty, about 6 inches in diameter.  Giant Stuffed Burger Put the ‘bottom’ patty in the grill basket, pan or on the baking sheet. Mix bread crumbs, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard and garlic powder and immediately spread over 1 patty to within 1/2 inch of edge. Spread fried onions on top of bread crumbs mixture and cheese on top of onions. (It gets rather ‘high’ but it works) Flatten the second patty a bit more and carefully put it on top and work the edges together with your fingers to seal. If using the barbecue grill for 8 – 10 minutes over medium-high heat, carefully turn and grill another 8 – 10 or until done. If using oven bake at 400F for 35 – 40 minutes or until done.
Hint: when cheese starts oozing out the edge I consider it done. Remove to platter, cut into wedges and serve.

This time I’m going prepared for our house hunting adventure.

I’ve put the Wellies in the car.

And my stick.  (As in walking stick – useful for agitating long grasses to scare snakes and for sticking in dark corners of cellars.  House hunting in France is not for the faint-hearted)

11 thoughts on “Life is Different Here: French Weddings; and Big, Stuffed Burgers!”

  1. I nearly cry when I read about the Snowwhite and 7 Dwarfs!!! You crack me up :D. What a funny post!!! It seems that the French know how to have fun on weddings! Hilarious!!!!
    I wish you luck in the house hunting. Here in Spain prices are going down, are you sure you don’t want to take a look? You would have tones of things to laugh at too!!! 😉

  2. Bonne chance on the house hunting front! Sounds like you will need it! Are you willing to give us a sketch of where in France you are hoping to relocate and what you are looking for?

  3. You had me smiling right up until the walking stick and snakes YIKES!!!!!
    Great looking burger though. Thanks for sharing.

  4. That’s very interesting about the wedding traditions over there. Sounds like a fun experience. Also, that’s a very (in a Samuel L Jackson voice) tasty burger!

  5. Tanna, one does have to have some stamina… But the 80 & 90 year olds were all dancing up a storm!
    Lydia, it was long… It was very quiet around here on Monday.
    Nuria, if only it were that easy. It’s a bit more challenging for us Americans to move around Europe.
    Zoomie, we are looking a bit further south in Aquataine.
    TBTAM, it’s much more relaxed… and NOT all about the bride!
    Ruth, but they’re not poisionous…. mostly…. That’s why the Wellies.
    Heidi, we’re closing in on one…
    Mike, I should have qualified all that with it being a country wedding – not city!
    Thanks, Orange Beach

  6. It is so intersting to hear about other wedding customs. I suppose that being invited to this and that no one is left out entirely. You can have the dinner and dance with only your closest friends and family. In the meantime I will have one of those giant stuffed burgers:D

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