More on Parisian Dining In

Jean-Loup Chiflet wrote a very amusing essay about dining with friends in Paris which appeared in Saturday/Sunday’s Madame Figaro for Oct. 28/29. Entitled “Help. I’m dining in town!” was a description of a typical ‘upper crust’ dinner. Believe me I was pretty surprised to discover that the Parisian artistic milieu doesn’t appear to get high marks for its at home soirees. Chiflet lamented the late arrivals of guests, the bowls of peanuts and lukewarm champagne, the predictable main course – roast pork and prunes, the predictable conversation – as flat as the souffle.
A good home cooked meal is appreciated by Parisians even moreso than an invitation to dine out – but it takes some careful consideration. I figured out the time involved. Most of Saturday to do grocery shopping. Which included – checking out three butchers on Rue Daguerre to find out who had the best looking and most reputable beef: We chose the butcher shop at #29 Rue Daguerre (Donne) Te. 01 43 20 24 78. The origin of their beef is listed 71 Parthenaise cat – Gensse.
“I don’t think Charolais has enough fat,” said the butcher.
We picked up the scallops and huge Madagascar shrimp at the fish market on the walking section of Rue Daguerre.
Then it was off to the confiserie near Metro Gaite on Avenue du Maine where we bought mokka, chocolate and citron tarts. The bread came from Rue de l’Ouest. The wine came from our stash tucked under the bed.
Then it was off to the florist to pick up a bouquet for the table setting.
If you include the time spent washing dishes after the event (36 dishes, 27 wine glasses, 63 cutlery items) which took about five hours to wash without a dishwasher) we’re talking about 15 hours to put a decent meal on the table (and that was with a lot of help from our guests!). If you are reading this in the States, you might say well why bother?
In a word, if you really care about the people you’ve invited, nothing is too good and you take whatever time is necessary to do the best you can to create an enjoyable dining experience for them. Of course, there’s no guarantee for memorable conversation (which was one of M. Chiflet’s complaints) but I consider the night memorable if we’ve been able to laugh a little. In our case, the evening was marked by the announcement of a new baby in June. (I had been saving a bottle of Chambolle Musigny for just such an occasion.)