One of the things I love most about the Parisian culture are the “spontaneous” dinner parties at people’s homes. Our agenda’s might be full of apero’s, vernissages, parties, presentations, birthdays etc. but most of the time we leave the office saying “J’ai un diner”.
What more do we need than catching up with friends at home with good food, wine, music and stories? Among your guests there’s always someone unknown who slips in your doorway and around your friends dinner-tables there’s always new people to meet. Tops the fact that if you enjoy cooking, the french are the most grateful audience.
Here’s a quick manual to get familiar with the “concept” :
• Invite 4-6 friends and/or random people you feel like knowing better (mixing and matching is ok if you know your guests well – some parisians might also be discomforted when the group style changes too drastically)
• No need to ask – they will each bring a bottle of wine
• Make sure you have some sort of a “Dinner-Playlist” so you don’t need to think about music (Gainsbourg, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Beatles – anything lively and not too modern)
• I like to at least have 1,5 hour before my guests arrive, but that’s personal
• Tell them to come at 8:30 – They’ll be there at 9pm which is great
• Don’t be complicated about table settings – when you pick your guests well, things will go naturally
• Napkins (very annoying detail when missing)
• Make sure you plan the dinner at least one day before so you have time to get the right ingredients for your recipe. (Don’t plan too much in advance because you will have to cancel the dinner a million times until finally doing it 6 months later – Parisians live from day to day)
• Ideally, go to the market. Marché Faidherbe is my absolute favourite: loud, smelly and perfectly charming (11eme arrondissement) – Otherwise you might have to go to three different supermarkets in order to get all of your ingredients.
• Once you get home, put on some music, have some water, open a bottle of red wine for airing and pour yourself a glass to start cooking
• Take out plates, napkins, candles, forks, knives and put on a side on your dinner table
• Cook until your guests arrive (interrupt for a 1 second lipstick readjustment)
Good night guaranteed!