Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Feliç Any Nou / Happy New Year / Bonne Année


cava 1Cava is Catalan champagne. Of course, since the Champagne Wars ended and France won, I am legally obliged to say that cava is not champagne, but is a Catalan sparkling wine.

The most famous brand of cava is Freixenet [fray-sheh-net] though any Catalan person you ask will tell you that it’s the worst one. This is true. Freixenet is exactly like Budweiser: they have a huge marketing budget, 100% market saturation and no one really likes it. Much like Bud’s Super Bowl commercials, the annual Freixenet ad is covered in the press and is a genuine TV Event. The year that Martin Scorsese came off his Oscar win for The Departed, he directed their holiday ad. It was an Incredibly Huge Deal in Catalunya.

cava 2

“The taste of Barcelona” is actually traffic and dirty water, so this is truth in advertising.

We always had Freixenet for holiday meals at my house growing up, presumably because it was the only Spanish champagne that my mother could find. I have kept the tradition up and feel particularly subversive buying a Catalan brand in France, but I gotta represent when it counts, not just when it’s fashionable.


Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

4 thoughts on “Feliç Any Nou / Happy New Year / Bonne Année

  1. That is hilarious, although I did buy a bottle of it for brunch today (it was on sale, I will admit) and it wasn’t as good as the bottle of Fairway-brand prosecco we toasted to at midnight, or as good as the Moet Imperial we’re enjoying right now. But I keep thinking to buy it because they are a sponsor of Jose Andres’ Made in Spain and when I watch it I’m inundated with the liberal-guilt version of advertising: the sponsor messages before PBS programming. In any case, I will continue to usually resist and focus on the better cavas instead.

    • Celebrate the French way: buy a good bottle of bubbly to start the evening and as people get progressively drunker, start pouring the lesser quality stuff. No one will notice and you’ll still be helping line Jose’s coffers.

  2. Ah, we had the champagne debate at our house this New Year’s too. While our family was in France drinking real champagne, my husband and I were in California drinking “sparkling wine” made “in the style of champagne.” I kept calling it champagne regardless and it started quite the heated debate!

    • I think eventually “champagne” will fall the way of things like asprin (Bayer trademark) and Kleenex. It’s a compliment to the French culture that their product is the ur-wine and that everyone calls it that. Except the Catalans who do distinguish between cava and xampany. Because they’re pains in the butt.

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