Sunday, 27 March 2011

A typical French celebration

Last evening we were at a 20th birthday party.

It was F, one of my eldest son's friends. They started as a group of 3 friends, from the age of 14 when they all went to Spain on a school trip, then as time went on that group grew. There were always girls in the group but now there is just one left. She organises them all and always buys the birthday presents - sound familiar?

my son is the last on the right and the birthday boy is second from the left.
Here it seems as though the 21st birthday is not the big one but the 20th. I cannot find out why but E's friends are all celebrating this year.
The party was held in a local Salle des Fêtes, like a church hall. The invitees were mainly family with friends of F and some of their parents. 
When the 'kids' all became friends so did the parents, so we have been getting together for over 5 years now.
We arrived just after 8 o'clock and had apperitifs, local sparkling wine with either cassis (kir)or just the wine.
Then there loads of nibbles, tiny quiches and pizzas along with crisps and savouries.
We worked our way around saying hello to everyone, - 2 or 4 bisous ( kisses on the cheek) Depending on which part of the country you live in or are from you will either give 2 kisses, one on each cheek, or 4, 2 on each cheek. In our region we are 2, but this does take a while getting round everyone. 
Then when you meet someone you have to remember to either use vous or tu (YOU). Vous is the more formal and respectful use of you and tu is used for friends and people who know each other. Complicated?? not really you just have to remember which to use. Check it out on internet - you will find much better explanations than mine.
About 9 o'clock we sat down, there must have been about 40 of us all together, the wine was put on the tables and the food was brought out.
Here is a picture after everybody had eaten - sorry I forgot to take one before the plates were emptied.

There was a rice salad, a potato salad and tabouleh, this is a salad traditionally made of bulgur, finely chopped parsley and mint and usually some finely chopped peppers. There was also dried cured ham, rillons (these are large 2 " cubes of pork belly normally with bone in, that have been cooked very slowly in their own fat and left to go cold.)  and paté. Also, as on any good french table - cornichons (small gerkins), mustard and mayonaise and lots of bread
MOH and I went back for seconds and sat waiting for the dessert, forgetting that we were in France!
The wine for the evening was all from a local vineyard. First there was a white sauvignon and a rosé. 

Over an hour later the serving table was cleared and the main course was brought out!


There was a large platter of very rare roast beef and a platter of pork, with bowls of ready salted crisps.
The wine was a local red.

By now it was midnight and we were getting a bit tired. 
The serving table was cleared and out came the cheese- a local goats cheese, a brie, a camembert and hard cheese - comté. At the same time as the cheese there were large bowls of salad - lettuce with a strong vinigrette.
A different red wine was put on the tables.

Then F got up to thank everyone for coming to his party and started to open his presents. 
His mates had bought him a set of juggling balls that you set fire to, and a pair of gloves! Luckily they had not given him the stuff needed to set fire to the balls because he had had a fair bit to drink by this time, but he could still juggle.

At one thirty the cake came out. A beautiful chocolate and praline cake, that was carefully cut into the right amount of pieces and handed out.

F and his Dad went round the tables, one on each side and poured the sparkling wine at the same time for everyone.
 Not long after, the people next to us went to get their coats, so we were able to follow suit.

We got home at 3 o'clock, after a lovely evening.


Knatolee said...

That cake looks divine!

sawn61 said...

Sounds like all had a wonderful time.

two bones and a bagle said...

Sounds great but by 3 am I would have been seriously flagging.

Diane said...

That looks like a great party. I didnt know they celebrated 20 instead of 21. Hope you were not to tired today. xxx
PS - I bought my firepit in Asda last year for £20 but I was going to make my own with a metal bin lid and bucket. its much warmer than a chimenea. xxxx