2 November 2010

A French Dinner Party

Just a picture - not the real dinner !

I can’t recall being to one before. I’ve been to loads of dinners where there were French people present but Saturday night, as far as my memory serves me, was the first time we were hosted by a French family. After eleven years in France, that’s not bad!

Our hosts are probably not typical French people however. She was an English teacher, whilst he worked for an American company and they spent some time in the UK whilst he was on assignment, so they both speak excellent English. We’ve met them quite a few times at a mutual friend’s apartment and we had them over at Le Brin last year when things didn’t quite go to plan as a chair collapsed at dinner and two of my four bottles of best French wine turned out to be corked (read about it here:  http://tomsfrenchblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/abigails-party.html) so it was nice to see them again when we all got together in Cagnes on Saturday night.

Now, before I continue, this is not a criticism of our hosts, merely an attempt at describing the differences between what I assume was a fairly typical French dinner party and what the ‘Brits’ do.

The first thing which struck me was our host offering us port and whisky as aperitifs. He also had kir which most of the ladies chose but it seemed strange that a glass of wine wasn’t on offer. Is this normal?

Then it was the hostess’s turn with the canapés. Whereas we’d normally find a few nuts and various nibbles, possibly even including some foie gras on crackers or toast in a Brit household, not wishing to detract too much from the main meal, the range of appetisers produced was staggering – smoked salmon blinis, duck paté on toast, scallops in a sauce of some kind, minced tuna (I didn’t partake of either of these being a bit of a fish dodger), then it was a sort of cauliflower and egg concoction with crispy bacon bits on top – and this was just the appetisers!

It was at this point that I noted that wine still hadn’t been served and I came to the conclusion that whilst we all associate a French dinner with glasses of the finest French wines washing down the food, it didn’t work out that way – the single glass of whisky, port or kir served as an aperitif ages before was all that was offered in the hour before dinner was presented.

Thereafter, dinner was quite predictable in that a starter (pumpkin soup), main course (duck), cheese and dessert were served as you would expect, but all with very little wine. In fact only two bottles of red were opened (no white was offered despite me taking some) for a total of eight guests which is surely below average? It is compared to Le Brin where a bottle per person seems to indicate the type of guests we have over!

And just as I was trying to digest the last of my food without my usual intake of wine, coffee was provided, and of course no milk was on offer. It seems that our French hosts did not make any allowances for British tastes - the six guests were all British.  

In conclusion, if this was indeed a typical French dinner, then I would much prefer to go to a Brit one every time and not because of the quantity of wine served – it would have been nice to have been offered a choice of white wine somewhere along the way and maybe a digestif at the end and of course, milk with my coffee.

Ah well. Maybe I’m just being picky. But the company was great! 

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