Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Having the French for lunch

Last Sunday we had a group of French friends over for a Sunday lunch. We were, finally, returning some great meals and getting our social scales back into a better balance. Although we always look forward to doing a meal for our French friends there are two things that make me more than a bit nervous beforehand.

The first as you might expect is language. Although far from perfect my French is mostly adequate for social conversation even though my grammar stinks. No, my problem is hearing & thus comprehension. I'm hard of hearing and even though I have the latest hearing aids I still have problems; especially in noisy situations like a lunch where everybody is talking. (an unkind ignoramus recently accused me of being too stupid to program my own phone. Any of you with hearing difficulties will know that phones are exceedingly difficult. Ah well.) So, even though I literally hear what people say many times I have difficulty understanding. This is true in English and, not being my native language, even more so in French. In any case last Sunday worked well. Our friends are understanding & tolerant and we ended up having some interesting conversations. Try explaining the American primary elections system in French for example.

The second is the food. Not all of our French friends are good cooks. (I can remember one cous-cous that was ghastly!) Still they are all knowledgeable eaters and as an American I want to give them something a bit special. Sort of national & personal pride rears up. I really need not worry as the French are far too polite to say anything negative in any case, but if I'm honest I want to show off a bit. Thus I put quite a lot of thought into what to serve.

There were seven French plus us. I decided on a menu which was a combination of some old standby dishes with a couple of new things thrown in. We had:

- Various nibbles.

- A starter of pork & parsley terrine with aspic & mustard cream sauce

- A main course of tunnel boned slow roasted leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic & rosemary.

- This was accompanied by roasted roots (potatoes, carrots, shallots, turnips, parsnips and garlic cloves) and sauteed broccoli.

- A simple salad. lettuce with creamy vinaigrette.

- Cheese. Salers, St Felicien, St Augur and Blue de Brebis

- Carrot cake with fromage blanc frosting

For wines we had a Languedoc Chardonnay and a Spanish Trebillino. I brought in the Spanish wine just to keep everybody on their toes. Its a very nice wine.

In the end a very good time was had by everyone. Our friends arrived at 12:30PM and left at 17:30 PM. Five hours is pretty typical for a French Sunday lunch.

The best compliment was when our friend Jacques said that I cooked like a Frenchman. With heart. I was touched!

I'll write up some of the cooking with pictures over the next few days.

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