Thursday, 19 January 2012

A French Dinner Party

This was not the first dinner party I've attended in France and it's not the last but it sure was LONNNGG!

We invited JC's neighbours over for a meal (a rather tardy reciprocity). They left the kids back home so it was just the adults; food, wine, conversation. Lots of all the afore-mentioned. Oh yes, lots, this is, after all, France.

It took Jean-Claude and me half a day to prepare everything: the food, the drinks, the table setting, setting the fire for a lovely ambiance. We started with appetisers in the living room. These little delights are delicate, tiny and often bought from a shop. A popular chain of shops for frozen goodies is Picard. You just have to read the instructions on the back of the boxes to make sure you allow the right number of hours to defrost them.

One enjoys them with a flute of champagne and a lively sharing of stories. It's still difficult for me to contribute al lot to discussions but Bruno and Helene made an effort to mostly speak slower. They hadn't seen me for six months and thought I'd made enormous progress with my French. Perhaps but I'm not very objective. It always seems so difficult and exhuasting, especially as the hours go by but Bruno and helen and JC are always interesting to listen to.

I don't eat Fois gras (Ive tried it a number of times) so I had a cheesey ham pastry instead. Yummy. Any left-over fois gras goes to the dog. At present she has to take some medicines so JC wraps the pills in fois gras to disguise them - only in France!

And now on to the main course. This was one of JC's specialities. It's a rolled peice of Pork with cheese and bacon and tied up. he cooks it in a sauce containing raisins that have been soaked in Calvados (a high-alcohol liquor made from apples, orginating from Normandy) some orange juice and mysterious other things. It's spo yummy. I'm a great fan of sauces.

It was served with a puree of celery-no not the branced tyoe. There are two forms of celery in France, the usual one with long stems and another which looks like an ugly, oversized turnip. It's the later that JC uses. He puts the finished puree in little cocottes for a nice presentation. As you can imagine, I was getting rather full by now.

Plunging on into the menu, we moved on to the cheese board and a tossed salad, bread throughout everything, hours went by. We were still eating and drinking at 1.30am. Red wine, white wine, water. No-one sculled their wine. In fact I have never seen any silly drinking behaviour at any of the dinner parties I've attended. The emphasis is not on getting 'silly' or drunk. It's always on the food and company.

Helen had made the dessert. During January it's traditional to serve une Gallette des Rois. It's pastry-like with marzipan in the middle. Hidden somewhere inside is a little 'token'. Who will get it in their piece of Galette? Just so there's no cheating, the person who cuts the cake then turns around with their back to the other guests. One of the guests serves each guest a peice after the person who cut it calls out a guest's name. It's a bit like a double-blind medical trial.

The token was visible in one of the pieces though. Traditionally the person who gets it then announces who their King or Queen will be. A bit of fun. However, time ticked relentlessly, as it does, and I just had to go to bed at 4.00am and leave the others to it.

We're hosting a lunch party next. Oh my waistline!


Alison said...

4.00am!!! Magnificent! I would not have lasted that long, that's for sure. It sounds - and looks - like a great time was had by all.

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