Monday, July 15, 2013

Feasting in France

It is rare that ex-pats get invited to the lavish food marathons that take place in France a la "Babette's feast".... but the lore is there and most of us know that this is common.  

 Many French holiday meals or even weekend family meals take on the same "forever" quality that our own Thanksgiving meal is known for.  It is not uncommon to attend an evening meal that starts at 6pm , and goes on until 3 am, with many courses being consumed one after another. 

 Sometimes, I've heard the whole thing starts all over again for breakfast or the following meal.  It is considered a shame to be a "party pooper" and exit the festivities early.  No self respecting Frenchman would dare do so.  So in for a penny.....

Yesterday , Monsieur and I were invited, along with 20 other guests, to partake of a rare Chinese/French barbecue....... which I would say surpasses even the ordinary French " grande bouffe".  
Protein galore, baby back ribs

The setting was a fine house and garden , there was only one child,  charming 4 year old, Hippolyte, and an epileptic bulldog (They have to bring him everywhere because of his malady) named Fiston who was twice pulled off of the barbecue.  

    The first course around the pool was Sangria, fois gras toasts and marinated salmon.   

After all had introduced themselves and oiled themselves with Sangria, we sat down to an immense table in the shade and were served a half  lobster each. 

 That singular treat was followed by beef kabobs, and carrot salad.  

After a time, came platters of lamb and these were served with bowls of rocket leaves with an Asian vinaigrette. 

Rocket salad

Next came the baby back pork spare ribs.  By this time I was seriously pacing myself while enjoying the conversation on all sides.    With that course, came bowls of Chinese noodles.  Whoa. 

Beyond my umpteenth glass of rosé,  Champagne was poured and several home-made lemon tarts were produced from the kitchen.     This tart was quite delicious and my favorite pastry.   I couldn't refuse a slice.

Then to honor the French, all but four of us,  out came an enormous wheel of Camembert with baguettes.  By this time I was abstaining, as you may well imagine, and drinking water... but not so the others who helped themselves to pie sized slices of cheese.  

But that was not all.  Dark red cherries, chunks of watermelon, and nectarines were then served along with traditional sesame seed/ peanut candy!   And lots more champagne.  We continued thus as if programmed and I can't say it was too difficult. 

To finish the going into it's 7th hour, came home-mixed "Limoncello",  more champagne  and coffee.  (Limoncello is a common after- dinner drink that most people here in the South make each year from their local bitter lemons. )  

My claim to fame at this point was to start the group singing "Le Marseilles" the French national anthem!  Brother Roge taught me to sing it at a young age one summer when he gave the local kids a French class.   

It is always a show stopper and everyone is astonished that I know the words as I do.   The host had us standing up and raising our glasses throughout.

 But after all, it was Bastille Day and a feast of these proportions deserves a rousing song.  It was  an excellent way to spend an afternoon. 


  1. It sounds like it was an incredible event.


  2. "I'm glad you had a good time. Sangria with fois gras and salmon? Beef kabobs, carrot salad, lamb and rocket, spare ribs and Chinese noodles? Rose wine, red wine, then champagne with lemon tart? Camembert and baguettes followed by cherries, watermelon, nectarines, sesame peanut candy? And more champagne? Limoncello, champagne, and coffee. After all these hours of gourmandise you launched into the Marseillaise? And you didn't invite me?


  3. oh Bruce, you crack me up! If it were my gig, we could have sung drunkenly together.