Tag Archives: holidays

France Celebrates Bastille Day – And So Can You!

Bastille DayJuly 14 is the annual National Day celebration in France. The date marks the one-year anniversary of the famous storming of the Bastille and the end of the French Revolution which changed France from a feudal nation governed by a monarchy to a republic. Admittedly, there were a few sketchy years when Napolean was in charge.

Many French make a distinction between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790. As with any political change, particularly one that resulted in bloodshed and loss of life, there were hard feelings on both sides.

In 1880, French Senate Chairman Henri Martin explained why he believed France should adopt July 14th as its National Day:

“Do not forget that behind this 14 July, where victory of the new era over the ancien régime was bought by fighting, do not forget that after the day of 14 July 1789, there was the day of 14 July 1790. … This [latter] day cannot be blamed for having shed a drop of blood, for having divided the country. It was the consecration of the unity of France. … If some of you might have scruples against the first 14 July, they certainly hold none against the second. Whatever difference which might part us, something hovers over them, it is the great images of national unity, which we all desire, for which we would all stand, willing to die if necessary.”

For most French people, these distinctions have ceased to matter. Instead, the day is about parades and parties. To help the French celebrate (after all, they did help us out a whole lot during our American Revolution), here are some ideas for a kid-friendly, French-inspired picnic.

Cheese platter – You don’t have to pick fancy, stinky cheeses in order to enjoy a cheese platter with your kids. Pick what you – and they – enjoy. Ideally, try to get a variety of different cheese textures for them to sample along with a lovely grape juice.

Salade Nicoise – She may not be French but Martha Stewart is “la dame” when it comes to an American version of the famous French salad. Here’s her recipe for salade nicoise. Definitely splurge on the bottle of white wine vinegar; it makes a lovely difference!

Crepes – I love crepes either with sugar or nutella. Here’s a basic crepe recipe from AllRecipes.com you can try.

Baguette sandwiches – Take the humble ham and cheese sandwich and put it into a delicious baguette and you’re halfway to France! This easy sandwich is super kid-friendly. For an authentic feel, add cornichons, tiny French pickles, to the sandwich with either mayonnaise or mustard.

For more articles from KidCulture about France and French food, check out these links:

Soup’s On! French Onion Soup

French Food Made Fun

French Cooking Class for Kids

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Eat, Europe, Holiday, Learn

Martyrs Day in Madagascar

Antananarivo, MadagascarMarch 29 marks the anniversary of Martyrs Day in Madagascar, a day when 11,000 people lost their lives while opposing French colonial rule in 1947.

On this day, their sacrifice is remembered and honored.

Families celebrate by spending time together and enjoying activities together such as going to the movies or relaxing in a park.

Elected officials make speeches at special events and lay commemorative wreaths to honor those who died.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Cookie By Any Other Name

palmiers

Photo: Real Simple

Known as palmiers in France, palmeritas in Spanish, ventaglio in Italian, and elephant ears in English, these little cookies have a devoted, global following.

It is believed that they are French in origin, where their name translates to “palm leaves.”

They are widely available in bakeries and from companies such as Goya, but they are also easy to make – so long as you don’t try to make your own puff pastry!

Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten that was posted on www.foodnetwork.com. Try it and let me know what you think.

4 Comments

Filed under Eat, Europe

Purim Cookie: Haman’s Ears

They go by many names – and many spellings – but the Jewish festival of Purim has one standout sweet treat in this cookie.

Hamantaschen are triange-shaped cookies that can be filled with a variety of ingredients such as poppy seeds, prunes, dates, apricots, or even chocolate.

They get their name from the villain of the Purim story, Haman, who convinced the king of Persian to allow the murder of all the Jewish people in his kingdom. The Jewish people were saved by Esther, the king’s wife, who was also Jewish, although the king did not know this until she bravely came forward.

Here’s a recipe from JewishRecipes.org that you might like to try.

There are so many ways to make these cookies that the possibilities for filling, folding, and displaying them are nearly endless. Here are some ideas to get you started.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also found a great article in the New York Times about one woman’s history with Hamantaschen, and her quest to make the “perfect” Purim cookie. You might enjoy reading it here.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Food, Family, and Chinese New Year

There are few better – or cheaper – ways to introduce your child to other cultures than through food.

With so many great ethnic restaurants, it’s easy for parents to get children accustomed to foods from different countries from an early age.

However, parents may be unsure of what to order that’s kid-friendly.

In honor of Chinese New Year, which runs February 3-15, over the next few days KidCulture will provide some suggestions to help parents choose food in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

In each of these countries, people celebrate Chinese New Year by sharing good food with their families and friends – and that’s a custom worth adopting.

So stay tuned for some fresh, fun, food ideas to help you introduce your child to other cultures.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Holiday

Books About Chinese New Year

Here are some suggestions for children’s books about Chinese New Year. Enjoy!

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright, and Ying-Hwa Hu

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-lan! By Lauryn Silverhardt, Jason Fruchter, and Aka Chikasawa

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub and Benrei Huang

The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine and Sebastia Serra

 

1 Comment

Filed under Learn, Read

Global Family Fun: Celebrate Chinese New Year

A little more than a month after most New Year celebrations end comes Chinese New Year, a fantastic opportunity to teach your children about Chinese culture and recommit to all the great intentions with which you started 2011.

Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world in countries with large Chinese populations and those with a significant shared cultural heritage. Indonesia, Malaysia, Chinatowns in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as Korea, Vietnam, and Japan all celebrate the festival that begins on February 3 this year.

With its focus on family, good fortune, health, and happiness, Chinese New Year has many elements parents can adapt for their children.

For example, families in China prepare for the new year by thoroughly cleaning their homes in order to remove bad luck and make way for good fortune. However, they believe that it is very important that no one sweeps during the first few days of the new year because cleaning will remove the good luck once the new year begins.

Homes are decorated in red, the luckiest color, and adorned with intricate Chinese paper cuts. By putting up Chinese New Year decorations, you’re getting a head start on Valentine’s Day, which also incorporates red decorations.

Family visits are an important part of New Year celebrations and people usually buy new clothes. Your family can adapt this custom by planning a visit to an elderly neighbor or relative. They’ll be happy to see you whether you’re wearing new clothes or not!

Like most holidays around the world, food is a big part of the celebration. Throughout the holiday, families will share meals that include dumplings, fish, duck, chicken, noodles, and sweets.

Preparing the dumplings, in particular, is a family activity. Parents, grandparents, and children work together to prepare enough dumplings for the feast. Extended family and friends are invited so families have to be ready to feed a large crowd.

On the morning of the new year, children wish their parents health and happiness. In return, they are presented with leisee, money in red envelopes decorated with gold to signify wealth.  Children also are given oranges. The Chinese name for “orange” sounds the same as the word for luck or fortune.

Families cap off activities by setting off fireworks and some towns organize parades complete with lifelike dragons and lions. One of the most famous parades outside of China takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

One final element of the holiday is forgiveness. People are urged to reconcile with each other and welcome the new year in with peace. That is especially fitting in 2011 as the ferocious and volatile Year of the Tiger gives way to the easy prosperity and peaceful negotiation of the Year of the Hare.

Although Chinese New Year celebrations last for more than two weeks, you can be a lot less ambitious with your activities. Sharing a special dinner, cleaning the house together, or making some special decorations are all you really need to do to give your family a flavor of the holiday and teach them about Chinese culture. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Holiday, Learn

French Onion Soup

Although well-known in the United States (it even appears on the TGI Friday’s menu), French Onion Soup is actually an ancient soup that originated in France and is typically affiliated with the poor because it was cheap and simple soup to make.

This French Onion Soup recipe comes from Chef Danielle at CookingClarified.com.

Of all the soup’s we’ve covered so far, this is likely the only one my mother will make! French Onion Soup is one of her favorites. Bon appetite, maman!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Learn

Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato Soup

Today’s Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato soup is an original recipe from Chef Danielle Turner, author of CookingClarified.com.

Although Chef Danielle created the recipe, it relies on typical ingredients – corn and sweet potatoes – used by Southeastern Native American Indians.

As Chef Danielle says, “This soup is summer in a bowl.” We hope you enjoy it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Learn

Peruvian Beef Stew

Peruvian Beef Stew

Photo courtesy of latina.com

Peruvian cuisine is known as one of the best in South America. Its influences range from the indigenous people to immigrants from Spain, Italy, China, Japan, and West Africa.

Peru’s traditional staples are corn, beef, and potatoes. You could easily add potatoes to this recipe, from Cooking the South American Way, to incorporate all of those foods.

Peruvian Beef Stew

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 ½ lb. round steak, cubed

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

¼ c. white wine vinegar

2 c. beef bouillon

2 c. squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 c. frozen peas

1 c. frozen corn

3 sprigs parsley

Heat oil in a pan and sauté onions.

Add meat and brown well, about 20 minutes. Add all spices, the vinegar, and the beef bouillon. Bring to a boil, stirring to mix well. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes. Add squash, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add peas and corn and heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Learn