The time to cook your old familiar recipes has come, but if you want to impress the French, you must keep in mind a few useful tips in order to avoid a major disaster…
Indeed, oven temperatures can be pretty misleading and you may have to frequently substitute ingredients. A previous American Community in France blog article, Cooking and Oven Temperature Conversions, laid out the basic rules for cooking your recipe in almost the same conditions as back home. However, mastering the actual cooking is not enough. Even with a 100% American menu, the dinner must take place within a well-defined framework. And in the country that invented etiquette, some other considerations must be taken into account:
- French tend to eat dinner later than in the US, so they may be surprised if you invite them before 8 pm.
-Don’t expect the meal to be a mere formality. The French enjoy food and having dinner is an experience in itself which may last up to 3 hours.
- Even if you want your guests to experience a 100% American dinner, they will be grateful if you include some French MUSTs such as aperitif, cheese and “digestif”…
- Don’t feel offended if your guests ask you questions about the food and the recipe. It is a good sign that usually means they’re enjoying themselves and might even consider using your recipe for the next dinner they’re hosting.
- Dinner is not only an occasion to eat good food and drink wine. The French have a passion for discussing, or rather debating, the latest news. If you don’t want to be left out, be sure to read the newspapers on D-Day!
- Your guests may bring you gifts: if they bring you a bouquet of flowers, be sure to have a vase ready for use. Should they bring a bottle of wine, it is usually considered a nice gesture to drink it during dinner or as an aperitif.
If you keep these rules in mind during your dinner party’s preparation and execution, your night is set for success.
Setting up the perfect conditions for a nice dinner will put you and your guests in the perfect mood for enjoying your American meal, which was the initial goal…
One last piece of food for thought : adding a French touch to your American recipe will help you create delicious and original dishes (like the crème fraiche and chocolate chips cookies), and might turn your dinner into a huge success !
Here are some books and guides that can also help you navigate the treacherous waters of the “mixed” dinner party.