Showing posts from October, 2018

Aperitif Parties?

In the last year or so, I’ve started to experiment with occasional stand-alone aperitif parties. For these, I’ve invited guests for just a couple of hours in the early evening, serving aperitif food and drinks without the offer of dinner to follow. When the party’s over, the guests go home, and my partner & I head off out to a restaurant. My friends and family appreciate a good aperitif, no matter when it’s served, and they’ve never yet declined an invitation on the grounds that the party’s too short! I admit, I did worry the first time I did it that friends would be affronted they were not invited for a whole evening. However, I found references in old etiquette books to pre-dinner drinks parties, sherry parties and cocktail parties. If it was good in the 1930s, I thought, it’ll work now. Taking a tip from those books, I sent out invitations that specified “You are cordially invited to join us for Cocktails & Canap é s, from 6:30 to 8:30.” To ensure that the pa

Doing it à la française

You’ll see from my bio in the corner that I claim to have learnt to eat in France. I lived there as a student in the late 1980s, away from home for the first time, away from my familiar culture and cuisine. Some things, like eating with a fork and bread (rather than a knife and fork) or following the main course with a salad, were noticeable immediately as different from home. My awareness of aperitif culture was more of a creeping realisation. I remember being surprised that so many customers in my local bar drank pastis in the evening, when they drank more familiar drinks earlier in the day or later at night. I just put it down to French strangeness at first. As I made friends, I was invited out to dinner more often, and it became evident that something very specific was going on. The pastis drinking was part of the preparation for dinner. I began to realise that the dining experience didn’t begin at the first course as at home, but with the introductory drink beforehand, u